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Why did a good whack fix my (assumed) broken hard drive?

So I thought for certain the hard drive on my old desktop G4 was dead. Upon startup, I was getting the "whirr CLICK whirr CLICK whirr CLICK whirr CLICK" sound, followed by the flashing question mark on my screen. Out of frustration, I gave the HD the ol' Fonzie: I whacked it good three or four times. I am now typing this on said computer. What happened? [more inside]
posted by item on Nov 21, 2005 - 25 answers

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