Thursday, September 27, 2007

Data Recovery Part III - Almost done!

Well - after my last supremely wonderful post that simply pwned the problem, I get home last night to do some more fiddling and take some pictures (below) and find the "fixed" drive no longer accessing. Figures. In typical Adam-fashion, I had over-engineered the solution and it turns out it is much simpler than I thought...

Before I get to that though, here are the steps I took to swap out the PCBs and why I, once again displaying the supreme arrogance expected of me, thought it was a good idea:

1. Check that the two drives are identical by comparing model numbers, if they're not identical, this is likely to fail like Ms. South Carolina answering a question:

2. Now, check the part numbers on the PCBs (since even two identical model number drives can potentially have slightly different components) - not the serial numbers, the part number should be printed on the board itself and not on a sticker:

3. With all numbers matching, you should be able to swap the two circuit boards and expect them to work with each other. With that in mind, unscrew the boards (you'll need to make sure you use the right screwdriver here, the screws are a little soft and these particular ones needed a star-shaped bit of size T8):

4. Screw removed, carefully lift the PCB from one edge and peel slowly off the grey sponge, be careful not to tear the sponge:

5. Note the contacts on the PCB:

6. And the contacts on the Drive housing:

7. Now just switch the two boards and screw back down. Operation complete!

Now - when I first did this, the "broken" drive was recognized and I thought "sweet! now I can image it, restitch and get my data again!" but as I mentioned earlier, when I double checked last night, the drive was once again not recognized. Nice.

However - and here's the clever part - I found that squeezing the drive housing and PCB together (after mounting of course) gave me the access I needed!

And there you have it - a much simpler solution and no real need for removing the PCBs! Especially since I checked the "broken" PCB on the good drive and it worked fine! Take a closer look at the contacts on the PCB - see how they are slightly corroded? I think this is the point of failure on this drive and squeezing them together makes a better connection and allows the drive to access properly. Of course, it could be something completely different like squeezing the boards together makes the computer gods happy... but I prefer my way!

Caveats: The above steps were not necessary for my recovery, but if they will work for you, you should still follow standard procedure and ground yourself and your surface before working on anything relating to computer hardware. If you're even slightly unsure about any of these steps - DON'T DO THEM! I am not an expert, but I've worked with hardware long enough to be able to attempt something like this.

Warnings done - back to the fun stuff next posting! As always, here's your video for the day!

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