Repairing a Hard Drive from Hardware Errors
Hardware errors represent much more difficult problems when diagnosing and recovering a hard drive. At best, you may be able to retrieve your data, but repairing a hard drive is often too expensive over the alternative of simply buying a new one.
Hard drives contain a series (usually 2 to 4) disks or platters on which computer data is stored. A small, efficient motor spins the disks anytime the computer is turned on. This motor, like anything mechanical, eventually wears out and no longer spins the platters. Replacement of the motor is possible but typically not worth the effort. In addition, opening up a hard drive voids the manufacturer’s warranty. If the drive is still under warranty, you are better off arranging for a Return Merchandise Authorization (RMA) with the manufacturer than attempting to repair the motor.
While the motor spins the disks, a small yet powerful magnet moves a series of arms across the platters to allow the drive to read and write data. Sometimes this magnet becomes stuck in a position precluding the heads on the end of the arms to make contact with the platters. The result is a drive unable to read and write even though the data is safe and secure on the platters.
One method that works to dislodge the magnet is to drop the hard drive from a height of about six inches on its broadest side to see if the magnet disconnects from whatever is attracting it. Of course, this method may damage the drive further. It is a last resort if the drive is out of warranty and the data on the drive is available somewhere else like on a backup drive.
There are companies out there that specialize in recovering data from a faulty hard drive. They do not repair the drive, but instead remove the platters and recover the data using a special machine capable of reading data directly off the platters. This service can be quite expensive so proper backups and a lengthy warranty are your best defenses against such an expense.