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Tips and Tricks for Fixing Broken Hard Drive Power Pins

written by: •edited by: Simon Hill•updated: 12/11/2010

Finding that one of the power pins on a hard drive has come loose and detached itself from the drive housing can result in a useless storage device - these tips will help you repair the drive long enough to rescue your data.

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    How is Your Hard Disk Powered?

    Repair Broken Power Pin on Hard Drive with a Hairpin In your PC you will find one or both of the two types of hard disk drive – PATA and SATA.

    The PATA (Parallel ATA) drives are connected to the motherboard using the ribbon-like IDE cable and will feature a Molex connection to the computer power supply (PSU). Meanwhile SATA (Serial ATA) drives feature a different, device-specific SATA connector for data and another for power – but if you don’t have a SATA power connector from your computer’s PSU you can use a Molex connector.

    This level of compatibility between the two types is very useful and permits the use of new drives in older computers. However, despite the wide use of Molex, it can prove unreliable. Extension cables and splitters can often come apart inside a computer as the ambient temperature causes connectors to distort, while the Molex power pins on hard drives and optical drives can be easily damaged, necessitating repair.

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    Repairing a Hard Drive Power Pin

    There are two ways of repairing a broken Molex connector pin on your hard drive:

    1. Solder a wire extension.

    2. Use a hairpin.

    However, before going to town on any of these, you should check which hard drive power pin it is that has broken. There are four pins in total, but if the missing pin is one of the middle two the chances are that the drive will still work.

    Extended use of the device wouldn’t be advisable though – so take whatever steps are necessary to remove data from the drive before installing a replacement.

    The following steps assume you have powered down your PC, removed the hard disk drive and that you are working in an anti-static environment.

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    Solder a Wire Extension

    The first fix you might try is to solder a small piece of wire between the seating and the separated Molex pin. This obviously requires you to know the whereabouts of the pin, or else you will have to find an old hard disk drive to source another loose one.

    A narrow soldering iron is required for this due to the size of the components, and you should only attempt it if you are experienced at soldering. Note that failure to successfully connect the wire to the pin to the hard disk drive with the wire might result in the hard drive being damaged when you connect the Molex cable.

    Remember to insulate the soldered cable.

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    Repair Broken Power Pin on Hard Drive with a Hairpin

    An alternative means to repair a broken power pin on a hard drive is to find a suitable replacement that can be used short-term.

    This isn’t a recommended route to success and should be attempted only if the other method fails.

    A small lady’s hairpin or clip can be manipulated into acting as a suitable replacement for the original pin, and this can prove vital if you need to retrieve data from the disk drive.

    With a suitable pin found, push it gently into the area where the original pin was seated, using a little force. You might opt to disconnect your power supply and your hard disk drive from your motherboard before testing, but once reasonably secure, connect your Molex cable and power up.

    If you successfully power up the drive with this method, the first thing you should do is save all your data to a new location; the second thing you should do is bin the drive.