4 ways to repair a physically damaged hard drive

4 ways to repair a physically damaged hard drive
4 ways to repair a physically damaged hard drive

If a computer crash is bad enough, it's a disaster when your hard drive dies. This usually means destroying your data with no hope of recovery, unless you have made a backup. But is your hard drive really out of order or only partially damaged? It is possible to recover data provided that you use proven methods. Either way, if you do the operation yourself, you will be acting on your own responsibility in all cases. You will use your information at your own risk and only as a last resort, before deciding to dispose of the disc or recycle it if it is truly unusable.


Method 1 of 4: Check the condition of the drive

Fix a Physically Broken Hard Drive Step 1

Step 1. Check the failure

Make sure the drive is really bad by checking for items that might prevent the system from recognizing it.

If your disc is making a loud continuous clicking noise, stop and go to Part 2, your disc is indeed inoperable

Fix a Physically Broken Hard Drive Step 2

Step 2. Check the hardware connections

This is the best thing to do at first and if the problem is really there, this is the fastest and cheapest repair you can get.

  • Make sure the computer is plugged in securely. If your cat has pulled on the plug or the power cable is defective, nothing can work.
  • Open the computer cover. Are the IDE or SATA data cables inserted correctly? Check that they are snug in their place and that no pins are bent, broken or damaged in any other way.
Fix a Physically Broken Hard Drive Step 3

Step 3. Perform a visual check

Sometimes the hard drive is not the cause, but rather the drive controller, which is the electronics under the drive. In the event of a power surge or component failure on the controller, your drive is no longer able to function simply because it is no longer receiving instructions.

  • Look for signs of possible damage, such as scorching or scorching. If you find any you can let out a small sigh of relief, it means you have found the suspected culprit and in most cases it can be fixed relatively easily.
  • If you need to replace the circuit board, search the Internet to find replacement parts available for your make and model of hard drive.
  • When you have the new part, remove the old electronic board. You will see 5 small screws to remove, don't lose them!
  • Carefully take out the old disc. Do not touch any metal parts on the new board, as static electricity could "burn out" it before it is even put into service. To eliminate electrostatic charges, you can either wear an antistatic wrist strap or touch a bare, grounded metal object. The interior of a plugged-in computer usually does the trick.
  • Insert the new card, making sure it is firmly in contact with the drive, then replace the screws.
  • Reconnect the drive to the computer and then turn it on. If your hard drive works, congratulations! It may be a good idea to back up your data at this stage, however the repair should hold.
  • If that doesn't work, see the instructions below.
Fix a Physically Broken Hard Drive Step 4

Step 4. Check if the drive is recognized

If everything is plugged in correctly and nothing appears to be faulty on the controller PCB, go to Windows Disk Management Utility, BIOS, or Mac OS X Disk Utility to see if your hard drive is not recognized in any way.

Method 2 of 4: Know your repair options

Fix a Physically Broken Hard Drive Step 5

Step 1. Make a decision

A quick Internet search for "spare parts for hard drives" will direct you to various options.

Fix a Physically Broken Hard Drive Step 6

Step 2. Do a search on Google

Write hard drive spare parts in the Google search bar and you will get dealer addresses. Make sure you find parts that match the model of your drive. It is easier to find spare parts for older models than for newer models.

Fix a Physically Broken Hard Drive Step 7

Step 3. Do it yourself

The good old-fashioned System D method is to do the repair yourself using spare parts sold by specialist companies, assuming that replacing the disk controller will fix everything.

While it's true that it can actually work, there is still a great risk: As the electronic components of controllers are increasingly calibrated for specific models of drives, there is no guarantee that the replacement will work. However, it is by far the cheapest solution

Fix a Physically Broken Hard Drive Step 8

Step 4. Call in a professional

This is another option to get your drive working again or at least to recover your files (which is ultimately the most important).

  • The turnaround times can be faster than the System D method and the chances of success a little higher, however this comes at a cost and not less.
  • You can expect to pay two or three times as much as the price of a new hard drive, so you'll have to weigh that cost against the value of your data on the drive.

Method 3 of 4: Perform the repair yourself

Fix a Physically Broken Hard Drive Step 9

Step 1. Read this carefully

Read all instructions completely carefully before proceeding to make a decision that is best for you. Some of the methods are only available when you have nothing more to lose, and your attempts may work just as well as destroying your hard drive, surely and permanently.

Fix a Physically Broken Hard Drive Step 10

Step 2. Perform a physical test of the drive

Hold the disc in one hand and rotate it firmly back and forth to check for any suspicious noise during operation. If you do not hear any noise, the likely cause of the failure, and especially if it is an older hard drive or a drive that is unusually warm to the touch, is a blockage in the control head. reading or the axis of the platter. In this case, you can consider the following maneuvers.

Fix a Physically Broken Hard Drive Step 11

Step 3. Warm it up

Preheat a home oven to the lowest temperature for about five minutes, then turn it off. Place the hard drive in the oven for two to three minutes until heated through.

  • Remove the disc and repeat the first step. If you still can't hear any noise, go to the next step. If, on the other hand, a difference is heard, reconnect the disc to the computer and listen if it spins correctly with the normal noise indicating an activity of the read head. If at this point everything looks okay, try to access the drive and transfer your data to a known good hard drive.
  • If necessary, reheat the disc and then, holding it in one hand, bang it hard against a hard surface. It's a last-ditch attempt, of course, but it can help free the head from a possible blockage.
  • Repeat the first step. Do you now hear a movement of the head? If so, reconnect the drive to the computer and try to access it.
  • If you can hear a regular “click” punctuating the movement, the head may be free on its axis and no longer blocked. Check that there is no clicking sound by rotating the disc gently in a ninety degree back and forth motion. This would be a sign of detachment and deterioration of components inside the drive, failure beyond the scope of this article.
Fix a Physically Broken Hard Drive Step 12

Step 4. Freeze the disc

Freezing the disc is another more controversial option. This is a last-ditch attempt and may only work for a very short time while you recover your most important data. But if all your other efforts have failed, you have nothing more to lose by trying.

  • Place the disc in a freezer bag and remove as much air as possible. Put the hard drive in the freezer for a few hours.
  • Reconnect the drive to the computer and try to access it. If this does not work immediately, turn off the power, remove the hard drive, and then bang it against a hard surface, such as on a table or on the floor. Reconnect the hard drive and try again. If that works, back up your data and then throw the disc away. Otherwise, you can bring yourself to call a professional.

Method 4 of 4: call a professional

Fix a Physically Broken Hard Drive Step 13

Step 1. Get all the advice you need

There are many companies that offer to repair hard drives at a generally high cost. Before reaching for the wallet, find out about their references. Seek advice in online forums, contact them directly to find out if they have been in business for a long time and what their percentage of success in data recovery is.

  • Find out about their guarantees and prices, both in the event of success (which will be more pleasant for you to pay) and in the event of failure. Check whether it is worth the risk of failure.
  • You might not be too willing to pay for a payback that didn't happen, but on the other hand, it is normal that the hard time spent trying is made up for.

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