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December 4, 2009 3:04 PM   Subscribe

My Iomega external hard drive died... Any chance of getting it going again? Or getting the drive(s) out and into another case?

It's an Iomega HDD2H, 640GB, silver case, and I'm pretty sure it's two 320GB drives in a RAID 0 configuration. (Specs are hard to come by for this, sadly.) The case has four screws attaching the outer enclosure that mainly serves to provide feet, but the inner enclosure holding the ddrives defied my initial attempts to open it -- no apparent screws or other modes of ingress. I found a suggestion to try another external power supply with it and happened to have an exact twin that came with another drive -- but no go.

I'd rather rescue the data somehow and have a hard time believing the drives themselves are the problem; it seems more like a power issue. But even if I could get the drives out, what are the chances I could use another RAID enclosure (which I happen to have) and retrieve the data?

Lastly, yes, it's out of warranty, and Iomega quoted a minimum $900 to get the data back. Yikes!
posted by rleamon to Computers & Internet (8 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
What happens when you try to turn it on? Do the drives make any kind of noise?

A standard rec is to put the drive in a freezer for 24 hours, then try powering it on.

I cannot advise as to how to get it out of its casing. But I imagine you offer a computer guy $50 or less to do that for you.

(In future, consider buying internal hard drives and buying separate enclosures for them -- this makes switching them in and out easy.)
posted by meadowlark lime at 3:09 PM on December 4, 2009

Your instinct to remove the drives and put them in a new enclosure is a good one. Try the freezer thing mentioned above, it does occasionally work for some people. Otherwise, get out the screwdriver and take the enclosure apart. Find the model number of the hard drive(s), then go looking for the same model on the net. You might have to get to the level of taking the platter itself out and remounting it, but it's still going to be a lot less time and hassle than sending it to a data recovery service.
posted by sophist at 3:44 PM on December 4, 2009

I'd attempt the transplant before the freezer. The freezer is closer to a last resort, and you can usually hear when the drive is having a mechanical problem. If you do end up trying it, watch out for condensation issues. (Wrap it in a Zip-Loc bag.)
posted by thejoshu at 4:27 PM on December 4, 2009

Thanks. Sophist, there's a scarcity of info on the web about this unless my Google Fu happens to be deficient. Meadlowlark lime, I did that (internal drives + enclosures) and have had a Spotlight issue but otherwise that's definitely the way to go. I'm thinking NAS or home media server next....
posted by rleamon at 1:35 PM on December 5, 2009

Sure. Looking into it further it seems that moving the platters themselves to a new drive is impossible without special tools. What can be done, and is much easier, is to move the power supply, controller or motor from an identical working drive to the dead drive. There is a thread here referencing your Iomega drive. Tons of comments about fixing drives in general here, although the original article seems to be missing. Also, a great series of lectures on hard drive data recovery on youtube from a professional at drivelabs.
posted by sophist at 2:39 PM on December 5, 2009

Get it to a professional data recovery outfit. Pay them to take care of it. This doesn't necessarily mean forensic clean-room super expensive recovery (which is much cheaper these days, BTW). Many won't charge unless they can recover data.

Unless you really don't care that much about the data - avoid the freezer tricks and all that jazz.

From your description, it sounds like a power problem rather than a disk problem (raid-0.. what were you thinking though.... that's double the chances of total failure)
posted by TravellingDen at 8:51 PM on December 5, 2009

Sophist, I had seen that thread and tried the second power supply -- no go -- I don't get any sign of life from the drive at all (no light, no sound)... And TravellingDen, the drive came configured as Raid 0, I assume -- but not having gotten into the housing itself I'm just guessing that it's two 320GB drives in there. This week I'll try surgery on the case to see if I can get it open. Thanks yall!
posted by rleamon at 5:30 PM on December 6, 2009

For the sake of possibly saving someone some trouble down the road, this is how I recovered my files. (Currently recovering them but tested on one of my files and it worked great.)

1. Buy a two-bay USB drive dock (the kind you stick a raw SATA drive into); these cost around $40. I bought mine at Fry's but you can find them at Newegg, et al.

2. Install the two drives from the RAID 0 array, connect and power on. Do not allow the OS to format them, of course!

3. I downloaded R-Studio for Mac after looking at similar tools for Windows (I am running VMWare Fusion and originally thought there weren't any Mac-compatible tools such as R-Studio until I saw their Mac version). You can try this out for free and buy it if you find it works. It was $85 USD ($79.99 in Canadian dollars).

4. Set up a Raid 0 virtual raid device with a 128MB stripe setting (which I found on one of Iomega's support forum posts); I think the default stripe setting is 64MB. You drag the names of the two drives in the dock into the virtual raid device. Supposedly the order you place them in makes a difference but I apparently got it right the first time.

5. Perform a scan of the files and save the scan file onto a different drive (of course).

6. Even though the scan seemed not to find anything while it was running, when it was done (about five hours for 600GB), a deviced called "Recognized0" was in my list of volumes. On that I saw my folder structure and files.

7. After selecting ("marking") the files I wanted, I chose "Recover" and am recovering the files to a separate external drive.

Considering Iomega was quoting $1800 to recover my data, the time and cost to figure this out was worth it -- total cost was about $125.

Oh, and for the record, purchasing a similar enclosure that supports RAID0 and sticking the drives in there did NOT work. Apparently the controller logic can be different even if the chipset etc. appear to be the same?

Thanks for your help everyone and I hope this saves someone some time, trouble and data down the road...
posted by rleamon at 1:51 PM on February 8, 2010

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