Exciting Hard Drive Data Recovery Option

by admin on Aug 18th in Hardware Issues, Troubleshooting

Having been in computer repair for nearly 25 years, the most difficult thing to tell a client is that their hard drive is toast and they lost all their data (because, of course, they didn’t have a backup).  In the past, I have been able to use some excellent software that allows me to recover data that they thought was gone forever, but anytime the drive made a strange clicking sound, or wouldn’t power up, etc., my only recommendation was to send to a clean room (which costs a MINIMUM of $700) to try to recover data.

A client recently handed me a hard drive with the most recent backup being 2012…not good…he claimed the computer recognized the drive, but couldn’t access the data.  Normally, that is a good sign.  What he didn’t tell me is that the drive power cycled every 30 seconds…so I could copy a single file at a time…seeing as it was a 1TB drive, this could take a while…

I considered doing a ‘platter swap’, which is very risky and you basically destroy a new drive to obtain the ‘host’ for the old platters.  After researching online, the platter swap was scrubbed, and instead I went with a PC board replacement…which while sounds easy, it requires the removal and replacement of the BIOS chip from the old board to the new board…and my soldering skills are crude at best.  Following the very vague and poorly written instructions from HDDZONE.com, I purchased a ‘hot air gun’ (from Amazon for about $70) to use to de-solder and re-solder the chip.  I practiced the process on some old boards with surface mounted chips and found it to be a pretty simple process.

After receiving the replacement board, I swapped out the chip, copied the hard drive to another drive for safety sake, and was able to recover ALL the data!  Since the replacement boards run only about $40, this is a great way to fix ‘hardware’ issues with hard drives.  HDDZONE.com has boards for nearly all makes and models of drive, and their list of ‘problems’ that a replacement board can fix is very informative…I think back to many clients that I probably could have saved their data if I had known this process!

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