Argh! Siezed hard drive

Anyone got any tips for freeing up a hard drive that’s siezed?

I noticed a couple of days ago that the HD for my home PC was really really hot - burn yourself hot.

I waited for it to cool down, removed it from the PC, got a new HD, and took it into work to transfer the contents to the other disk. Plugged it in, and it isn’t even spinning up. There’s a little ‘click’ when it starts, but apart from that nothing, and the computer can’t see it.

The systems guy here currently has me freezing the thing in the icebox - he says that might shrink any metal causing problems to allow one last spin wherein I can copy everything. If this should fail, does anyone else have any techniques for accessing the data?

(Being a smug git, I of course have everything of value backed up elsewhere. However, my wife, who is an aspiring novelist, hasn’t. This is Very Serious. :eek: )

If it was too hot to handle it is most likely that the main bearing(s) have siezed.
Depending on the particular drive it may have a simple sleeve or journal bearing which requires oil lubrication. Ball bearing seldom sieze.
All of which leaves you with two choices,
First choice at no cost is to toss it and forget it.
Second choice is to ship it to a data recovery service. They claim to be able to recover data from almost any HD. NOT cheap!
Condolences to your wife. Twas a hard lesson on back up on floppies>

The ABSOLUTELY LAST resort is to remove it from the machine and rap it on a table top. Don’t pound it down, just a single sharp rap. If that don’t do it, it’s toast.

If freezing it doesn’t work (I hope you wrapped it well before putting it in the freezer), I’d say a professional data recovery service is your only real option; I certainly do not recommend opening the drive yourself, as you might inadvertently damage the platters and prevent the pros from recovering the data; the good news is that the data very likely to be intact on the platters; it just needs getting out, but this involves opening the drive under clean room conditions.

I’ve just been told that a single HD recovery might cost me 5,000 yoyo. Oh deary me.

One other thing on the freezing attempt; when you plug it back into your machine to attempt to recover the data, detach the IDE cable for the optical drive and find the molex power connector with the longest available cable - this should enable you to hang it right out of the PC case and you could even stick it in a plastic bag, then sandwich it between a couple of freezer blocks, to keep it chilled as long as possible.


Guts. For. Garters. :frowning:

Did you try what NutMagnet said? If Data Recovery isn’t an option, you’ve got nothing to lose by gently rapping it on a table, or even dropping it straight down (lay it flat, parallel with the table or ground) from 10 inches or so.

Will try that last-ditch attemt now.

And I realise I spelled “seized” wrong. :frowning: :frowning:

And “attempt”. :frowning:

I just plugged it into another computer as a slave drive, and it appeared to spin up… but the computer then wouldn’t boot, or even let me get into the bios.

If it’s a BIOS enumeration problem, it could be a failed drive self-test (depending on your BIOS) or an inability of the BIOS to determine and certify its properties.

*nix operating systems don’t use the BIOS. You would lose nothing by booting to a *nix version. There are several available for free download as a series of floppies or (much better, if you computer supports it) a CD image. Knoppix is one CD image, which has been spoken of highly. Booting to a Knoppix will put you in a full Linux OS and quite a few recovery utilities (The *nix Command Line Interface isn’t terribly different from DOS, especially compared to some OSs I’ve used; the GUI isn’t too different from Windows.)

You can also Google “stiction” for more tips, but freezing and the occassional rap (by various methods) are the most popular techniques.

Good luck!

I’ve tried it in 4 computers (two Compaqs, two Dells) running Windows, and booted from a Ghost floppy to no avail.

I have Knoppix too at home, but no idea at all how to use it - I loaded it up, but from there I’m stuck in the home directory. I can’t seem to get anywhere to see what peripheral drives there are, or indeed anything else on the computer. I’m a Unix dummy.

If the thing spun up OK, but wouldn’t read, it’s possible that the heat has fried the electronics; it might be possible to replace just the drive controller - typically these attach to the drive itself by one or two (rather delicate) flat printed connectors. Of course, you’d have to replace the controller with one from an identical drive - I have a small pile of different redundant drives here and I suppose there’s a nonzero chance that one of them might be the same as yours - if you post the drive make and model and I’ll take a look - if I’ve got one the same, you can have it.

For all that, I don’t think it spun up at all - it was just really close to a disk that did spin up.

Oh God.

Still post the make and model; if you can find an identical drive; a data recovery company might find it easier (i.e. cheaper) to put the platters from knackered drive X in place of those in working drive Y…

OK then, cheers. It’s a Western Digital ‘WD Caviar’ (yeah right) 13328 cylinder (though this info has a little red sticker over it), Enhanced IDE Hard Drive, 15 heads, 63 spt, 6448.6 Mb. It has a Compaq sticker on it that says “replace with Compaq spares”.

I don’t have one of those in the pile, but there might be one inside a redundant machine in the junk heap; I’ve got to leave the office now, but I’ll check on Monday…

Clutching at straws, but have you tried it back in the original computer again?

Tried it every which way. Still dead.

I broke the news to mrs jjimm. She was very understanding, and though she lost some notes and synopses, everything else she’s written was either backed up or on paper. I’ve lost some design work and some music, but nothing I can’t replicate.

I’ve written it off. Thanks for all your advice anyway.

My ‘helpful’ colleague told me to leave it with him over the weekend and he’d fix it. He didn’t touch it. (He also said earlier “you don’t need to install Windows on the new disk - I’ll give you a ready-made disk image”. He didn’t.)

 Since it's buggered why not expose it to a strong magnetic field, like the table on a surface grinder. That should wipe it clean, Don't forget to de-mag and use Trumpet oil to lube the bearing if it's stickey