Unintelligent Hard Drive Enclosure design?
November 13, 2005 3:39 PM   Subscribe

I screwed up and plugged the wrong power supply into a hard drive enclosure. After the sickly smell of fried electronics wafted up to my nose, I freaked out, unplugged everything, and disassembled the enclosure. The electronics controlling the enclosure? All fine. The hard drive, not so much. One of the IC's on the drive's controller PCB is fried. My question -- is this normal design for a hard drive enclosure? It seems to me that if the enclosure recieves incorrect voltages, it would be common sense to design some failsafe idiot-proofing to keep said incorrect voltages from reaching and frying the drive.

I'm really at a loss as to why this wouldn't be the case... can someone enlighten me? In the meantime, I've searched the archives and learned that professional data recovery is out of price range. I'm going to try the "Swap out controller PCB from identical drive" method of DIY data recovery, so any tips in that regard will happily be accepted.

For reference, it was an OWC "Mercury Elite" enclosure.
posted by adamkempa to Computers & Internet (7 answers total)
Just saving money. Fewer parts is always cheaper. What supply did you plug into it? I mean, if it was 120V or something I guess you might expect to overwhelm some circuit whose nominal purpose is protection - semiconductors often fail short, but with enough power everything eventually fails open.

Are there any electronic components connected to the power supply jack at all, or is it just a straight wire directly to the hard drive connector?

I can't really offer any advice about doing the PCB swap beyond simple good practice. Make sure you have a nice open work table, with the appropriate tools near. Be very careful, go slow. Be deliberate, plan what you are going to do, then do it. Ground yourself...
posted by Chuckles at 4:14 PM on November 13, 2005

You're talking about an external hard-drive case, right? Adding a circuit breaker would certanly add cost.
posted by delmoi at 4:19 PM on November 13, 2005

Ack, the same damn thing happened to me except I didn't make any mistake - the cheap made-in-China external housing simply chose to fry my hard drive. I'm still trying to get my hands on a twin so I can try the PCB swap too.

(Why is it that so many parts on the shelves at local PC stores are nasty, cheap-looking, no-name crap? I knew I was gonna get burned somehow, someday.)
posted by Tubes at 4:43 PM on November 13, 2005

Same thing happened here to the same brand/model of enclosure, although I wasn't the dimwit that plugged in the wrong PS (it was a contractor we hired).

We ended up having to go to a data-recovery place, and they just bought an identical HD, swapped the PCBs, and copied the data off the drive with something like OnTrack, although when pressed for details they tried to make it sound much more complicated and mysterious. I guess they have to try to justify their exorbitant fees somehow...
posted by mrbill at 6:34 PM on November 13, 2005

This past summer at work we went through three bad Western Digital external HD enclosures. In all three cases the power supply or electrical/wiring between the power input on the back of the enclosure and the circuit inside went bad. The HDs themselves were fine and we put them in different enclosures. We have since purchased four Maxtor external hard drives and have had no problems.
posted by vkxmai at 6:38 PM on November 13, 2005

Every one I've ever bought simply patched through the power right to the HD. I've often worried about how good that is, but now I'm starting to think maybe I should do a backup...
posted by hoborg at 6:59 PM on November 13, 2005

Generally, they come with an external power supply, and it's in that external power supply that the extensive voltage regulation and protection and stuff is.

So if you plug in the wrong power supply, you bypassed all the protection.

Not the most robust design possible, but in the world of computer periperals, price has a much larger impact on sales volume.

My only tip for swapping out the circuit board is probably obvious - ask the seller for the serial number of the supposedly identical drive, so you can ensure it is in fact an identical model, not just the same size/brand/style.
posted by -harlequin- at 1:22 AM on November 14, 2005

« Older Why can't I play dvd's?   |   Should I chargeback my attorney? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.