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There are various ways a Hard-Drive could fail. Some of the major issues seen in a failing/failed Hard-drive are listed below:

1. Drive doesn’t spin.
Any of the following could be the reasons causing this issue:
▪ Failed Heads Assembly
▪ Failed Motor
▪ Failed Printed Circuit Board Assembly (PCBA)
▪ Corrupted Firmware in ROM
▪ Spindle motor seizure
▪ Head stuck in the disk platter

2. Drive makes clicking noise when powered on.
This might happen due to one of the following reasons:
▪ Failed Printed Circuit Board Assembly (PCBA)
▪ System Area Damage/ Firmware corruption
▪ Degraded Head
▪ Disk Platter Damage

3. Drive seems to work fine, but is not recognized by the computer.
This might happen due to one of the following reasons:
▪ System Area Damage/ Firmware corruption
▪ Read/write head failure
▪ Read instability

4. Drive works and is recognised by the computer, but cannot be accessed and freezes the computer while trying to access the data.
This might happen due to one of the following reasons:
▪ Degraded Head
▪ Bad Sectors on the drive
▪ Read instability

5. Data is partially missing although the drive works fine and can also be accessed.
This might happen due to one of the following reasons:
▪ File system corruption
▪ Read instability
▪ Damaged sectors

The data from failed Hard-drives can be fully or partially recovered if the magnetic coating on the disc plater is not completely damaged. Some of the above mentioned Hard-Drive failures and their recovery procedures are discussed below:

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1. Failed Head Assembly
This issue is caused due to either physical or electrical failure on the head and sometimes the failure of preamplifier also causes this issue.
This can be fixed by swapping head assembly from a compatible donor drive in a cleanroom environment using various specialized tools. A donor drive is a drive which is similar to the one that needs to be fixed and can be used for swapping the internal parts.

2. Failed Printed Circuit Board Assembly (PCBA)
This issue could be caused by a burned fuse (or a shorted TVS diode), failure of one of the power converter components, a failed motor controller, or another failed component.

This issue can be fixed by Locating and replacing failed components or by Finding a compatible board from a donor drive, moving the Flash ROM chip from the patient board to a donor one, and moving that donor board to the patient drive. For the drives with embedded Flash ROM, the ROM contents should be copied from the patient board using PC-3000 UDMA.

3. Degraded heads
This issue is caused due to Physical or electrical issues with one or more heads of the heads assembly and might cause the partial to complete loss of data.
This issue can be fixed by locating the degraded heads using PC-3000 UDMA . If just one or two bad heads are identified, imaging can be processed on the good heads using Disk imager softwares, so user data that is located on the good heads is recovered. If too many heads are bad or the entire heads assembly is failed, then the heads need to be swapped using a compatible donor drive.

4. Corrupted firmware in ROM
This Problem can be fixed by Repairing ROM contents by using PC-3000 UDMA.

  1. Heads stuck to the disk platters
    When the drive is powered off unexpectedly and there isn’t enough time for the heads to move back to the parking zone before the platters stop spinning, the heads might get stuck to the disk platter.
    This problem can be fixed by opening the head disk assembly in a cleanroom environment and manually moving the heads assembly back to the parking zone.

6. Damaged disk platters
This issue can be fixed by recovering the platters and swapping the head assembly. But, In most cases drives with damaged platters are unrecoverable, because this leads to an almost immediate failure of the heads assembly, so even if a head swap is performed transplanted heads might fail after the swap.

7. Spindle motor seizure or a failed motor
This is caused due to various reasons jamming the motor bearing , which prevents the drive spindle from spinning.
This issue can be fixed in some cases by unlocking the motor bearing. However, in most cases the entire disk assembly needs to be swapped to a compatible donor drive. This is considered to be one of the most difficult cleanroom operations.