What are my options with a dead external drive?
October 10, 2009 5:05 PM   Subscribe

Stupid computerfilter: I didn't back up, and now the external drive seems dead. Options?

I have a 150GB acomdata external hard drive ... not sure how old it is, really, but it's lasted a hell of a lot longer than I think is reasonable to expect. I bought an iomega to replace it, but when I moved I lost the cables. Today, I found the cables, and was planning on doing a backup tomorrow.
Unfortunately, sod's law has struck and I have a dead drive. There is no discernible spinning when I try to boot the drive, my OS is not mounting the drive...
I've scoped out a few other AskMe's, came up with Data recovery on the cheap. The freezer trick is out, as I really do not want to ruin the drive before I've exhausted all other options. Gillware seems to be a fairly good, not-local option, are there other options I should consider?

  1. I am pretty sure this is a mechanical failure, not a logical failure.
  2. Professional data recovery services are expensive. I am currently unemployed and would prefer to avoid professional services, but willing, depending on a reasonable price.
  3. The power supply seems fine, but I don't have another one to test with.
  4. I'm using a dual-boot Windows XP / Ubuntu 9.04. I have tried mounting the drive in both systems and windows recognizes there's something there, but cannot start it.
  5. When I boot the drive, there is no spin, no noises unless I put my ear to it. Putting my ear to it gives me a high-pitched click, then two identical, lower-pitched clicks ... spindle motor not running, I'm guessing.
So, I think I have two options:
  1. Open the case and tinker. I would really, really rather that I didn't have to do this, but I'm happy to try if necessary.
  2. Take it to a recovery service and hope they aren't going to charge a grand.
Querying the hive for next-to-last-ditch options and suggestions.
If I have to take it to a recovery service, can any of you recommend a reliable, cost-effective service in the Atlanta, GA area?
posted by neewom to Computers & Internet (6 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: I should note that I don't care about the drive itself and plan to ditch it as soon as I have the data off of it (if that is actually possible at this point).
posted by neewom at 5:15 PM on October 10, 2009

OnTrack has an office in Atlanta, IIRC.
posted by aheckler at 6:00 PM on October 10, 2009 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I would definitely recommend removing the hard drive from the external enclosure and trying it connected directly to your motherboard (via its native SATA or IDE, with power, obviously,) before anything else at this point. Beneath the cover, you have a run-of-the-mill desktop or laptop hard drive, and enclosure controller board failure is common.
posted by biggity at 6:24 PM on October 10, 2009 [2 favorites]

You should probably hire a lawyer, T-Mobile is really pissed at you.


I've personally used Ontrack. They're great.

Also might be worth putting the drive in a different enclosure. That occasionally works.
posted by effugas at 7:38 PM on October 10, 2009 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thank you! I have it hooked into an old computer now, and whaddayaknow, it seems to spin fine with a different power supply. I'm pretty crap at hardware.

effugas - O no! Does that mean Catherine Zeta-Jones is going to come after me?
posted by neewom at 7:51 PM on October 10, 2009

One of my sons experienced a similar problem with a five year old Maxtor drive. As in your situation, the drive turned out to be fine once we tried a different power supply.

There's definitely a lesson here.
posted by imjustsaying at 1:38 AM on October 11, 2009

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