What causes Hard Drive Failure of the No Spin up Variety?There are typically three basic causes for a hard drive failing to spin up. These are:
- Electrical damage to the printed circuit board (PCB).
- The seizure of the data platter motor.
- The read/write heads which normally float above the surface of the data platters crash into and subsequently adhere to the platters themselves preventing them from spinning.
To Deal with Each of these Hard Drive Failure Causes in Turn
Electrical Damage to the PCB Causing Hard Drive FailureThis will typically take one of two forms. Where there has been a voltage spike or some other problem with the power supply to the hard drive itself then typically there will be blackened or obviously damaged components on the PCB. You will often find that this damage presents itself as a short-circuit to the computer’s power supply unit and consequently when you switch the computer on it will immediately switch itself off again (sometimes accompanied by an entertaining sound and light show of bangs and sparks).
Alternatively you may find that your computer remains switched on but there is no sign of life at all from your hard drive. In these circumstances it is more likely that the chip on the PCB which controls the data platter motor has suffered damage. Where this is the case you will commonly find that the motor control chip gets very hot when power is applied.
In terms of mitigating the hard drive failure and regaining access to your data, there is not much which can be safely done without expert intervention. Unfortunately buying an identical printed circuit board will almost certainly not regain access to your drive. The reason for this is that there is firmware information stored on each PCB which is unique to that individual hard drive. It will be necessary not only to obtain an identical PCB but also access to the specialised equipment which will allow the transfer of this firmware from the original to the donor PCB.
Hard Drive Failure through Seizure of the Data Platter MotorThe data platters inside the hard drive sit on a spindle which is rotated by a motor built-in to the chassis housing. This motor is in turn controlled by the motor control chip on the PCB referred to in the previous section. The bearings of this motor are especially vulnerable to impact damage. One of the most common outcomes of an external hard drive being dropped is the seizure of this motor. Once these bearings have become seized the platters cannot be spun and then of course there can be no access to the data on the platters.
Where this has happened, the usual data recovery response is to carry out what is commonly referred to as a “platter swap”. In this procedure a closely matching hard drive is acquired, the platters are physically moved from the seized hard drive to the donor drive along with the read/write head assembly and the printed circuit board. The success of this procedure will often depend upon the severity of the impact that originally resulted in the drive becoming seized.