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Guide: Open hard drive surgery - It Lives!!!!
Written by Gizmo   
Sunday, 13 May 2007 21:00
Article Index
Guide: Open hard drive surgery
Identify the bodies
Expose the guts
Extract the vitals
It Lives!!!!
All Pages
Key Parts

Uh, oh.  The platter won't come out because it can't clear the spindle.  Hmm... that means the heads have to come loose.  This is not a fun operation, but it turns out that we don't have to completely remove the heads.  If you look at the picture again, you'll note that the parking carrier is held in by a screw.  It turns out that with some care, the screw can be removed and the whole assembly moved downwards far enough to get the heads clear of the platter.  Depending on the drive model, you may actually have to remove the carrier as well.  If you do, the heads are going to come together due to the spring tension of the head actuator arms.  I've found that the best thing to do is get a piece of paper to slide between the heads before you remove them from the carrier; this provides a cushion to keep them from smacking each other.  Getting them back apart is a trick, though; I generally use a pair of wooden toothpicks for this.  The problem is that you have to be VERY gentle; too much pressure and you'll distort the actuator arms and the heads will no longer fly over the platter correctly.

Now that we've got the platter out, we just need to extract the platter from the other drive, and then insert this platter in its place.  As the second drive is virtually identical to the first, there's no need to detail that operation here.  In addition, assembly is pretty much the reverse of disassembly, with the addition that when you put the platter back in, you need to try to get it as free of debris as possible.  I used a can of compressed air to blow all of the debris off the bottom surface of the platter before inserting it into the drive, and then again on the top surface after inserting the platter.

So, control board swapped, platters swapped.  Before we actually put the cover back on, we'll go ahead and spin the drive up.  This will allow the drive to spin any fine debris off the platter without having to chance it getting trapped inside the drive.  Once the drive spins up, we put the cover back on, shut down, and finish bolting the cover down.  (I don't do this step with the power on, because I don't want to take any more chances with the drive than I have to.  It's safer to put the screws in when the drive isn't spinning.

Presto!  Bingo!  Power the drive up in the computer, it finds the drive and says there is something resembling real data on it.  Cool!  Stick it back in his laptop, and it boots up to his desktop, good as new.

So there you are; a buddy's career is saved, you are a hero, and it only took a couple of hours.

Of course, you do want make sure to lecture your buddy about doing regular backups of sensitive data.  :)

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