Damaged USB hard drive

I use a little Toshiba Netbook most of the time, with an external USB 2.5 inch Toshiba hard drive, which was perfect until I dropped the drive, which no longer works.
The Netbook tells me my USB device is not working. Plugging into a desktop gives the same result. The little light on the drive illuminates initially, then goes out. I uninstalled all USB drivers and let them reinstall 'just in case', but no change.
Are these things repairable?
--
Graeme


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On Sun, 09 Nov 2014 19:19:07 +0000, News wrote:

Just in case it is the enclosure and not the drive, take the drive out and connect it internally to your desktop. That is, connect it as you would any other disc drive into a desktop. You can leave it hanging free - you don't have to fix it into the chassis.
If it starts up O.K. then you know the enclosure is at fault. You may even just have a bad connection and re-seating it within the enclosure may fix it. However if it still doesn't run then it is borked, and AFAIK drives are not repairable after physical damage.
Cheers
Dave R
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They can be if the connector has got damaged by the drop.
Whether its worth is is a separate matter tho with drives so cheap.
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On Sunday, November 9, 2014 7:39:55 PM UTC, David wrote:

+1
NT
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Its possible you have just broken a connection when you dropped it and that is why it doesn't spin up anymore.
Those 2.5" drives are pretty rugged, but can certainly be permanently irreparably fucked by dropping badly enough.
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On 09/11/2014 21:02, Rod Speed wrote:

Maybe an SSD would be more resilient.
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No maybe about it but you can still see damage to the electrical connections etc with a badly designed drive which doesn't restrain the components enough so say the pcb gets cracked by the drop etc.
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On 09/11/2014 19:19, News wrote:

Check out this video. If you have the problem described, it's not repairable, but you might be able to get it going well enough to recover most of the data.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v
Y7BniaRXg
It's a long shot, but it sounds like you have nothing to lose.
Cheers,
Colin.
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That isnt relevant to a dropped hard drive.

Makes a lot more sense to check if something broke outside the hard drive itself in the enclosure instead.
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On 09/11/2014 23:01, Rod Speed wrote:

Isn't it? I have a mental image of the drive landing on its edge with the heads flopping out of the parked position and jamming into the platters.
How do you think the drive in the video managed to get into the state it was in if it wasn't a mechanical impact?

Obviously opening the drive is a last resort after you've checked everything else...
Cheers,
Colin.
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No.

That doesn't happen with 2.5" drives, the heads are latched very securely indeed when parked, just because they are so easy to drop in the things they are used in.

That doesn't happen either, essentially because there is normally only a single platter and there is no way to get jammed because it has to be able to traverse the platter in normal use.

That is normally due to the way the platter is coated seeing the heads stick to the surface as the coating deteriorates.
You don't see much of that at all now because the heads no longer land on the surface when the drive stops, they are retracted and latched off the latter instead now.

And you should be able to hear if the problem is that the heads are stuck to the platter as they were with this drive. That gives that very characteristic noise you heard in the video. When the problem is that the motor has died or is no longer getting power anymore due to the connector coming off when it was dropped, or due to a break in the power connection to the drive, it doesn't sound anything like that, you just don't get any noise from the motor at all.
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Power loss and failure to park heads, followed by a standard case of head stiction - heads stick to the platter if left in that state for a long time. It even happens with disks which park the heads on the platter anyway.
His method of trying to shock the heads loose is wrong. If he had done it by rotating the drive about the disk axis in one hand (arm aligned with disk axis) and stopping it by thumping it against other hand (something soft), the interia of the platters would break the stiction, and without exceeding the max g-force on the drive. Bashing it on the bench relies on the much smaller interia on the heads, exceeds the drive's max g-force, and will liberate trapped dirt inside the drive, besides being less likely to work.

I've done it for demo purposes - i.e. not on a drive where I want the data. You often get loads of bad sectors after doing so, and this is much more likely on a modern higher density drive.
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Andrew Gabriel
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On 10/11/2014 00:53, Andrew Gabriel wrote:

I see. I'm surprised they can't park in the case of a power loss. I'd have thought that would have been fairly easy to achieve.

I'd agree there. Seeing how hard that one was was stuck though, I don't think even the platter inertia would have been enough to free it up, particularly if you're not allowing yourself to stop it against something hard. It looked as though it was jammed really well.

Indeed. There would have been bad sectors even from the original sticking, let-alone after graunching it free again. As a usable drive it was already toast, but he claimed the bulk of the files could be recovered after unsticking. That's a much better outcome than just writing off all the data along with the drive.
Cheers,
Colin.
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They do. Its far from clear why that didn't happen with that one given that he said it was from a laptop.

It is, particularly with a laptop that doesn't see power just vanish unpredictably like it can with a desktop system.
That's not true of the external drives tho.

Not jammed so much as stuck.

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Not really, its probably internally damaged. Some are pretty resilient, but a drop to a hard floor usually buggers them. You ought to be able to get another drive for it, which may be cheaper than the whole thing, kind of depends whos drive they use inside and if its a standard interface. I'd doubt if the usb to drive part is broken myself, its going to be the mechanical part. Was it very old? Hopefully no important data on it tht was not backed up some place. brian
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Actually, IME it's a cheap if not cheaper to buy a complete new unit than buy a bare drive.
I've had more than one USB HDD enclosure fail where it was something to do with the enclosure's electronics rather than the drive itself.
But as has been said, only way to tell is to take out the drive and try it in a desktop, or connected with a usb to sata drive cable (a few quid on ebay/amazon)
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They hardly ever aren't anymore with external drives.

The problem can be the usb to drive part has been broken by the fall, just because the drive itself isnt that well constrained in the housing and is the heaviest component in there.

That varys. I have quite a few multi TB drives that I mostly use in a docking station for the PVR overflow, stuff I haven't got around to watching or even editing out what I have watched from files.
Sometimes a full external hard drive is actually cheaper than the drive itself inside the external hard drive. Not usually tho.

Yeah, quite a few of them do have pretty crude power supplys.

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Some can - they use the drive motor as a generator with the inertia of the spinning platters to power the head retraction (and there were even drives which attempted to flush the write cache to disk using this stored energy, but I think that was only drives which park the heads on the platter).
Back in the days of 8" and 14" disk drives, a large capacitor was used to perform emergency head retract on power loss. As the drives aged and the capacitance dropped, that didn't always work.
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Thanks for all the replies, as ever. No progress on the drive today, as I have been gathering backups and consolidating stuff. The damaged drive stored only data, mainly jpegs and pdfs, but no programs or e-mails. I seem to be about a month behind, but have not added anything significant in that time, such as personal photos.
Back to the drive itself. It is a Toshiba HDTB120EK3CA 2TB USB 3.0 2.5 Inch Hard Drive, which I used mainly with a Tosh Netbook. It worked perfectly until I dropped it onto a hard wooden table yesterday. The drive spins (I can feel the vibration) but the PC cannot 'see' it. This possibly suggests a connection problem rather than physical damage to the drive itself. I will investigate further, and report back. Seems like the best way forward is to try and extract it from the case, and directly connect to a PC.
--
Graeme

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Certainly something that needs frequent backups given that its so easy to drop those. Not that easy to completely automate tho.

Not necessarily. With modern hard drives if the drive can't start in the sense that it shows up as a normal drive the PC won't be able to see it. It could certainly have got damaged in a way that prevents the drive from being visible.
The test for that is to take it out of the enclosure and plug it into something that can take a SATA drive like one of the cheap USB/SATA adapters, a docking station or a desktop PC etc.

That last is very desirable and too rare IMO.

Or put it in a docking station etc.
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