Help! I dropped my external hard drive!
November 30, 2005 10:31 AM   Subscribe

I just accidentally knocked my Lacie firewire external 250 GB hard drive on to the carpeted floor. When trying to reconnect the drive, upon turning it on, it makes a sort of siren like sound.... am I screwed? Or is there a chance that this data will survive? Any thoughts would be appreciated.... Thanks.
posted by Gankmore to Technology (10 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: yeah, it was running when it fell and no i couldn't access any files.... just the siren noise.

oy vey.

thanks for the feedback.
posted by Gankmore at 10:49 AM on November 30, 2005

Hard drive warranties used to be two years but I think recently that the manufacturer's have switched to one year warranties. If it's under warranty, go the manufacturer's web site and get an RMA. Just say that it simply stopped working. If you get a "return to manufacture authorization" and have a credit card, they will ship the replacement drive to you immediately and you can put the broken one in a box and return it to them. All with a few days.

If you need the data that's on the drive, and it's truly broken, then you'd have to go to a data retrieval service that pulls the disk out and costs a lot of money. But it's possible.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 11:11 AM on November 30, 2005

I had a LaCie that I knocked over onto my wood floor too many times. Surprise surprise, it eventually stopped working. I was able to recognize the drive and see the files and even copy to it, but getting anything off the drive took forever and caused many crashes. So I was between the "none" and "severe" levels of damage.

My point here is that a friend suggested I throw it in the freezer for a few hours. I did, and was able to grab files off of it no problem, until it thawed again. I have no idea why it worked, and you need to resign yourself to possibly losing it all forever, but it's worth a shot as a last-ditch effort.
posted by p7a77 at 11:15 AM on November 30, 2005

EB: I just bought a Seagate with a 5 year warranty. One manufacturer switched from 3 to 1 year, and got railed by hordes of online geeks, and went back to 3 years. Just casually perusing Newegg, most seem to have 3 year warranties, while a few have 1 or 5 years.

Is the siren noise like a mechanical noise (i.e. fans) or a beepy computer kind of sound? If it's the latter, the enclosure might have detected that the drive failed and it's letting you know. In which case, I think you're probably screwed. Might want to try a few corrective "drops" from a few inches to see if you can unstick something in the drive, perhaps. Or take out the hard drive and hook it directly to a computer, which will have more diagnostic power than an external enclosure.

With a running hard drive dropped several feet, even onto carpet, I think you're going to see a pretty high mortality rate.
posted by knave at 11:18 AM on November 30, 2005

Oh yeah, I second the freezer trick suggested by p7a77. Note that you may only get one chance to retrieve your data after freezing the drive, and then the drive will probably be a paperweight.
posted by knave at 11:19 AM on November 30, 2005

The 'siren' noise is a dead giveaway. Your hard drive is now probably farming. It's called farming because the head gets knocked out of alignment and touches the platter, leaving little furrows in the surface. The platter is irreperably damaged in this process, as is the head.

The freezer trick normally works if there is a broken trace on the board becuase it causes the material to constrict and potentially close a gap, it won't do anything for a drive that's farming.

It's dead, Jim.
posted by WinnipegDragon at 12:27 PM on November 30, 2005

Hard drive warranties used to be two years but I think recently that the manufacturer's have switched to one year warranties.

As noted above, many Seagates have 5-year warranties.

One of the peculiar things about many drives sold now is that while the retail versions often have short 1-year warranties, the identical OEM versions often have 3-year (or more) warranties. So if you're willing to forego the enclosed ribbon/cable, install disk, and pretty box you can usually get much longer replacement coverage.
posted by meehawl at 1:22 PM on November 30, 2005

i feel with you
was it one of those that stand upright with little standing feet?
i swear they had the idea to sell them like that just to make people knock them over ..

if you can't get files off the hdd even when connected directly to your puter, then definitely try "corrective whacks", soft shaking and light drops, and the freezer (don't let it get wet)

usual oem hdd warranty is 3 years again
posted by suni at 2:02 PM on November 30, 2005


You may also be able to take the thing apart and place the drive into another external exclosure - you can buy these for about £20. But, I've got to say that this sounds screwed. Sorry.
posted by blag at 3:48 PM on November 30, 2005

Your data is not lost forever... Your drive may be, but your data is almost undoubtedly NOT.

Shock doesn't make magnetic storage vanish, unless it's intensely severe...

You will probably have to pay a service like OnTrack Data Recovery an asston of money to get the data off your platters, but if the data is that important to you, it can be done... I believe it came to $550 when I had to revive some data from the dead, which sounds insane, but the data on there was definitely that valuable.
posted by twiggy at 4:33 PM on November 30, 2005

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