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Repairing an External HDD

by Kurashiki / January 24, 2006 8:36 AM PST

I have an external HDD that I bought a couple years ago. I used it without problems until one day when it just stopped working. For some reason, it does not seem to be getting any power. You plug it in, turn it on and nothing happens.

It is no longer under warrranty so it will probably cost more to fix than than to by a new one. In fact, I have been told so by a local computer shop person.

I am leaning towards just buying a new one but I do have a few questions first that maybe someone here can answer.

1. Is is possible to try and fix this myself? Any advice to give before I take of the case and starting screwing around?

2. There was still a lot of data on it before it stopped working. Is there any way to retrieve this data?

3. What is the best way to dispose of an external HDD so that none of the data can be recovered assuming that the HDD is dead and it's time to move on? Besides the obvious smashing it in to a billion pieces is there a simple way to "erase" this data?


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Today I saw a nice segment on Drive Savers and ..
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / January 24, 2006 8:59 AM PST
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by Kurashiki / January 24, 2006 9:25 AM PST

As always thanks for the info.

I am not sure what you mean by " new housing". Is it possible to remove the memory part of an external HDD from its case and then install it into another case?

Is there anywhere that on the Web that gives instructions how to do this?


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Surprisingly easy. Ever use a Philips?
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / January 24, 2006 9:34 AM PST
In reply to: Thanks
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External drive failure
by VAPCMD / January 24, 2006 9:28 AM PST

If the hard drive is no longer under warranty and you want to recover any available data or test it further ... remove the hard drive from the external enclosure and install it/hook it up in a desktop system as a secondary, not a primary bootable, drive. It may be the case that the hard drive is perfectly good but the enclosure electronics have simply failed.

Once you've got it out...if it doesn't spin up, you can either send it somewhere for further data recovery which I always hear is $$ or disassemble the drive and destroy the platters.

If it spins up ...perhaps you might be lucky enough to copy some or all of the data off. Once you get everything off .. then run the hard disk mfgs diagnostic. If the drive tests OK ... I'd wipe it or zero it and use it as a spare.

Re replacement ...unless you absolutely positively need hard-drive portability ...get yourself a bare hard drive and install it internally in the computer case if possible. It will cost less and should last longer because it less prone to accidental-inadvertent damage. If not, just buy another external but by all any means.... never never ever put your only version of important data on a single hard drive...especially an external hard disk drive. It should always be backed up on another hard drive or CDs, DVDs, etc., With the prices of today's hard disk and CD drives...there's really no reason not have one to back up your important data.

Let us know how this turns out.


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A few more questions
by Kurashiki / January 25, 2006 10:36 AM PST
In reply to: External drive failure

Thanks for the information.

I went to a computer store and checked out cases for hard drives. They are not too expensive so I may go that way.

However, before I do so I have a few questions about your reply.

I did not know before but I am now assuming that the case and the actual HDD are pretty much seperate things. I do not actually need the case to make the HDD run. Is that correct?

Are all HDD basically the same kind of thing? When I go to a computer store and see both external and internal HDDs, am I basically looking at the same thing? The only difference is that one has an external case and one doesn't.

Now, let's assume that I get the memory part of the HDD out. Is there any other way to power it up to see if it spins without either attaching it to a computer or buying a case? I just bought a new computer and I am worried that if I take the cover off and start poking around then either (1) I will void the manufactures waranty and/or (2) screw something up.

I still have my old computer which basically became unusable because of a HDD problem. It had a small HDD to begin with (only 12GB) so I am not sure if I can or even should try to hook up a 120GB HDD to it. Can I do something like this just to test whether the drive is working or not?


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by VAPCMD / January 25, 2006 1:49 PM PST
In reply to: A few more questions

Don't bother getting another external enclosure until you find out if your external hard disk drive is OK.

External hard drives are nothing more than internal hard drives enclosed in a small enclosure with some electronics. The thing about enclosures is they may not work with your drive especially if it's a larger hard drive 250 - 500 GBs. I use the external har drive enclosures made by Adaptec ACS-110 which recognizes HDDs up to 1,000 GBs.

Re checking out your drive....just attach it ..PPOWER only to see it it spins up. If it doesn't spin up...thats probably pretty much it. If it spins up...then you could consider adding it your old system for further testing.

Re opening the case....that shouldn't void the warranty but see what they say anyway. For testing the drive intially...the old system would probably be fine for that. If it does spin up'll need to attach it to a system that will recognize it and allow you the opportunity to get your data off.


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naked cables
by lrlewis / January 26, 2006 9:31 PM PST

Might be worth it to you, might not. But there are "cable kits" that will allow you to connect an internal drive via usb. This is not a full blown enclosure, just cables and a power adaptor.
More at:
Google: IDE Drive to USB 2.0 Adapter Cable
VARIOUS prices.

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by Kurashiki / January 26, 2006 10:26 PM PST
In reply to: naked cables

Thanks for the info. Never knew about that. I will check into it.

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Like I said
by VAPCMD / January 31, 2006 1:06 PM PST
In reply to: Thanks

. . . unless you need the portability ... you'd be far better off mounting the HDD internally if there's any'll work there too.

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It worked
by Kurashiki / January 28, 2006 7:48 PM PST
In reply to: naked cables

I tried your suggestion and it work. I went out and bought an IE Drive to USB 2.O set up and once I hooked up my HD to it, I was able to access the data.

However, since it is not in a case of any kind, the drive does get kind of hot after a while. Is this something I should worry about?

Also, the green circuit board on the drive is exposed. Should I try and cover this or is it ok as is?

Thanks again

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It worked
by CompNut / January 28, 2006 11:23 PM PST
In reply to: It worked

DO NOT COVER the hdd with anything other than an enclosure. I'm glad that you found the cause of your problem, you should go and buy an enclosure... the cable you got is made for testing and data recovery in a temp basis NOT for normal use since it leaves the hdd moving parts and board exposed to dust.
The heat that you notice is normal... all moving parts produce heat... an enclosure if made of aluminum is designed to dissipate the heat evenly, other enclosures have a fan. They are cheap ($15 and up) and if in the future you get a larger hdd, all you have to do is open the enclosure and replace your present hdd.

Just my 2 cents, hope they're of help.

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Where you can get ''naked cables''
by Lynn Miller / January 31, 2006 2:12 AM PST
In reply to: naked cables

This is fantastic. I just a couple of weeks ago disassebled an old computer and removed two hard drives which I hadn't been able to access for a couple of years, plus I have an external hard drive that had suddenly quit on me. I'm pretty excited to think that I may be able to get back my old data for a few bucks.

I did the google search, and searched a couple of specific sites and found what I think is the best probably the best available option out there at
There's a pretty good description of the product and there are several rave reviews from satisfied buyers. Apparently this will adapt to a variety of different drives including CD drives. Adapter plus shipping came to $21.26. I can't wait to try it out.

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Repair and disposing of an External HDD
by Cad_1.0 / January 27, 2006 12:40 AM PST

I don't know anything about repairing a HDD of any kind, but I dispose of mine by burning and then soaking in sulfuric acid (battery acid).

Don't give me any guff about the enviroment, destroying my data is more important and the enviroment.

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Repair and disposing of an External HDD
by CompNut / January 27, 2006 3:29 AM PST

You did mention that it may be an electrical problem... if that's the case, then the enclosure is gone (buying a new 1 is cheaper than fixing), it's a very small investment (around $30) that keeps your data safer than when you use an hdd internally (I'm refering to the system hdd). It's also good to find out if the problem is in the hdd or as in your case it may be elsewhere.
Putting an external hdd together requires no degree in rocket science... connect 2 cables, 4 - 6 screws to hold the hdd in place and more screws to close it. That's it. Some of the things you should know ahead of time when putting an external hdd together... you can't rush things, make sure that the enclosure is compatible with your drive's kind and size, you would need xp sp1 or higher if you intend to use an hdd larger than 137G, set the jumper to master, format (maybe partition)it and give it a letter (you should reboot after that and then make sure that indexing is turned off.
As for disposal... all electronics contains large amounts of lead, mercury and other goodies... you should NEVER throw them out with the garbage nor burn them... but you should format using dod 8 sweeps or better and in case you're a bit paraniod, open the case, remove the cover, with great care wrap the rest inside a newspaper and a bag and using a hammer smash the disks... send all (except porcelain/glass and newspaper) to the recycle place where you live.

Just my 2 cents, hope they're of help.

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Disposing of a HDD
by rwhpi / January 27, 2006 2:27 AM PST

Although I don't have the answer to repair of an HDD, I can add my personal experience on disposal of one.

Forget using the chemicals. Simply take a sharp drill bit and safely drill some holes through the case, until the bit penetrates the disk. At least you won't have to worry about the government citing you for an EPA violation for metal shavings -- at least not yet, anyway!

R.W. Hicks

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