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  1. #1
    Senior Member roddy_boy's Avatar
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    Default Laptop hard drive dead

    Hi all,

    I turned my laptop on yesterday and encountered an error - "Hard drive not detected, please check connection and try again" or words to that effect. I removed the hard drive and connected it to another laptop using an external case - USB connection. The HDD is not recognized by Windows on this PC at all, the light comes on on the external case, and the HDD makes a sort of "dit dit dit dit dit... dit dit dit dit dit" noise over and over. Platter does not seem to be spinning. Can try to record the sound if that would be useful in any diagnosis.

    Anyway, I tried the freezer trick last night, didn't make a difference at all to the symptoms.

    My next step is to maybe have a go at pulling it apart and fixing the internals. I've had a look at a few ideas, and it's likely either the PCB or platter mechanism. Does anyone have any good ideas for how to diagnose which component is broken?

    I have a backup of most of my data, but have been lazy and there's a few photos on there which I hadn't backed up so all my summer trips, etc are still on there. Only about 10GB and all located in one folder so only need to get it working for a few minutes!

    Any tips would be awesome!

    HDD info:

    Seagate Momentus 5400.4, 160GB, 8MB cache, SATA, 2.5" laptop drive. Model number ST9160827AS. Seagate Data Sheet.

    Thanks

    <3 Roddy

  2. #2
    Senior Member fred_fish's Avatar
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    Default Re: Laptop hard drive dead

    I think you will have to rely on the memories you have of your summer trips.
    ... and be more vigilant with your backups in future.

    Treat it as a write-off, as that is pretty much the case based on your descprition, unless you want to spend $$$$.

    Otherwise, by all means, pop it open and have a fiddle. I have been pleasantly surprised to find lost data coming off an open drive after a "manual adjustment" by me. This is very unusual though and almost always with those symptoms, the data is gone.
    Last edited by fred_fish; 27-05-2012 at 05:10 PM.
    Gathering of the storm
    And the winds are blowing wild
    Sweeping over cross and creed, country, colour and child

  3. #3
    Senior Member roddy_boy's Avatar
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    Default Re: Laptop hard drive dead

    Cheers Fred,

    I'm not just going to chuck it out without having another crack. At the very least I'm going to open it and see if I can get the platter spinning by giving it a bit of a flick, however hoping to get an idea of how to diagnose whether the PCB may be the problem before I try this. If it's the PCB, it should be pretty easy to swap it out (assuming I can find a working drive for not too much money!).

  4. #4
    Soaring like an Eagle gary67's Avatar
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    Default Re: Laptop hard drive dead

    See if a linux live CD can see the data, I sometimes have found a linux distro can see what windows cannot. Doesn't always work but worth a try

  5. #5
    Senior Member roddy_boy's Avatar
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    Default Re: Laptop hard drive dead

    Thanks Gary, I might give this a crack, although the drive isn't even spinning so not sure it'll help.

  6. #6
    Senior Member roddy_boy's Avatar
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    Default Re: Laptop hard drive dead

    Just found this guide, and at Step 1.1.7:
    7Try to dislodge the actuators.
    Power the drive down.
    Slap it on a table on one of its side edges. Do this fairly gently – perhaps hard enough to crack an egg. If the fault is the actuators that actually move the head back and forth this might break it free enough to actually become "unparked" and hopefully allow you to recover your data once the drive will spin up.
    Note that if you do this with the drive spinning, it may destroy the drive.
    This achieved something! The drive now spins up and makes some funny noises... Still not detected by Windows so will try Gary's Linux suggestion. Any ideas of a good distro I can run from a USB drive, and whether I should try with the drive plugged into my laptop and boot into Linux, or boot in on this working laptop and connect the drive by USB?

    Cheers!

  7. #7
    Soaring like an Eagle gary67's Avatar
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    Default Re: Laptop hard drive dead

    Just out of interest where you been the last few months?

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Laptop hard drive dead

    Freezing harddrives is a very temporary fix. Long enough to get a few files back. Problem is once the drive thaws out it's usually stuffed for good.

    See: http://lifehacker.com/5515337/save-a...-freezer-redux

  9. #9
    Senior Member roddy_boy's Avatar
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    Default Re: Laptop hard drive dead

    Ah lame cheers icow... Tried the freezer one last night before trying anything else (it's the only method I'd heard of, who thought smacking the thing on a table could be good for it?!!?), hopefully it hasn't stuffed it completely. I'm trying power pulsing it now, then might try freezing it again, or the Linux distro...

    At least I know it's not the PCB so I can stop trying to hunt for one online/trademe!

    Gary - I got a girlfriend is what happened, believe it or not!

  10. #10
    Senior Member fred_fish's Avatar
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    Default Re: Laptop hard drive dead

    I'd suggest ddrescue to make an image as quickly as possible of any recoverable sectors. (It's on sytemrescuecd as well as some other bootable disks).
    Then you can try any data extraction from the image.
    Gathering of the storm
    And the winds are blowing wild
    Sweeping over cross and creed, country, colour and child

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