External hard drive unknown / not initialized / device is not ready / no drive letter

princeofpersia

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Hello folks. I'm new to the forum and registered in order to ask for help about the problem below. I ask for your understanding - I have tried to be as detailed as possible, thus some info provided may be irrelevant.

I have a fairly new (1 year old) Apacer AC235 external hard drive which was working perfectly until today. I was transferring a few GB of data (over 80,000 small image files) from my laptop onto the drive. There was plenty of space remaining to accommodate the new data. For some reason, the transfer stopped at "7 minutes remaining" and refused to go any further even after several hours. This also caused my laptop (Win7 Pro SP1, ver 6.1 / i5-5200U / 16GB RAM) to hang. I could not close Win Explorer or any other running apps via Task Manager. Shutdown via alt-ctrl-del was also not possible. In the end, I forced shutdown using the power button. I guess unfortunately this had the same effect on the external HD as pulling out the cable while it was still writing.

Following this, I am unable to access the drive. It does not show up in My Computer. The drive is receiving power as an LED is on. Unlike brands such as WD and Seagate, I am not aware of any troubleshoot/repair software offered by Apacer. I am not in the position to afford any products which claim to be able to solve this problem. On a slightly separate note, I checked the properties of the drive and saw that the Removal Policy was "Quick Removal". I suppose this offers no 'protection' whatsoever towards any sudden disabling of the drive.

Anyway, I've spent half a day reading up potential solutions, including numerous threads on Seven Forums. I've also tried all the suggestions from various websites. None of the steps listed below have worked.

1. Reboot laptop - no change
2. Try on another USB port / another laptop / another USB cable - no change
3. Disable and re-enable device / uninstall and re-install device / update device driver - no change

4. Disk Management - see details/screenshot below

On Disk Management, the drive shows up as Disk 1, unknown / not initialized. The drive size is not shown. The first time I opened Disk Mgmt, I was prompted to initialize using MBR or GPT. After reading about the risks of initializing, I chose to proceed anyway, but the error message "The device is not ready" came up. Following this, when I right-click on Disk 1, "Initialize Disk" has become greyed out. If I choose "Offline", I get the same error message.

Disk mgmt.png


If I choose "Properties":
> "General" tab
- Location = Location 0
- Device status = This device is working properly.

For the "Volumes" tab, I had different results depending on whether I access the drive properties via Disk Management or Device Manager. But in both cases I suppose they mean the same thing.

Properties-1.PNG


Properties-2.PNG


5. CMD diskpart - external HD does not show up (see screenshot below)

Diskpart.PNG


6. CMD sfc /scannow - scan completed, laptop rebooted, no change

7. Control Panel > Troubleshooting > Hardware and Devices - no issues found

8. CHKDSK - unable to perform. Option is unavailable (no "Tools" tab) under drive properties, and no drive letter to chkdsk via CMD. I read something about running chkdsk using the volume GUID, which can be found by executing the "mountvol" command, but the drive does not show up.

Mountvol.PNG

(First 4 volumes correspond to the 4 partitions in Disk 0 as per Disk Mgmt screenshot earlier in this post. E is the CD-ROM drive and F is a virtual CD drive.)

9. Partition Wizard - drive does not show up (see screenshot below)

Partition wizard.png

I am at a complete loss at this stage. It would be really appreciated if someone could help point me in a useful direction. The drive contains important work & personal files which I must not lose. If the drive cannot be recovered but the files can, I also cannot afford any of the data recovery programmes out there which start at USD 70 (that's a week's salary due to my current low income in a weak currency).

Thank you very much.
 

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philc43

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Hello Princeofpersia and welcome to the WindowsQ forum. :)

I would judge that you are not worried about losing any data on the external drive since you were quite ready to reinitialise it. That would be the way to go in my opinion and the fact that it is greyed out suggests there is disk corruption on it caused by the disconnection while it was writing data.

Sometimes external tools are needed and some of the free ones will work. Try Free Partition Manager Software Download Windows PC Server

Once the tool is opened you can select the disk and try the option to initialize it. There is a risk the data will be lost but this usually happens when you reformat the disk after intialising it.

The following resource illustrates one way of recovering data from the disk:
 
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princeofpersia

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Hello Princeofpersia and welcome to the WindowsQ forum. :)

I would judge that you are not worried about losing any data on the external drive since you were quite ready to reinitialise it. That would be the way to go in my opinion and the fact that it is greyed out suggests there is disk corruption on it caused by the disconnection while it was writing data.

Sometimes external tools are needed and some of the free ones will work. Try Free Partition Manager Software Download Windows PC Server

Once the tool is opened you can select the disk and try the option to initialize it. There is a risk the data will be lost but this usually happens when you reformat the disk after intialising it.

The following resource illustrates one way of recovering data from the disk:
Hi Philc43 and many thanks for your response.

Actually that's not quite the case. I was under the impression that after reinitializing, the data could still be recovered via some of the paid tools out there e.g. EaseUS, Wondershare Recoverit, MiniTool Partition Wizard, diskpart.com (AOMEI), etc. Incidentally I've read pretty much all the articles on their websites relating to this issue. Perhaps I've misunderstood? Admittedly those articles are mostly written to push sales of the software.

My priority is recovering the data - at this point I honestly couldn't care less if the drive needs to be binned thereafter.

I've tried the IM-Magic Partition Resizer which you kindly recommended. I also tried the trial version of EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard, to see if I could at least preview the files/folders. Most unfortunately, the drive did not show up on either (screenshots below).

I am completely stumped - the drive shows up in Disk Management and Device Manager, but does not appear in any other software or even the CMD steps I mentioned in my first post.

As for the option to "Reinitialize Disk" in Disk Mgmt being greyed out - if I 'unplug' the drive, reinsert it and re-open Disk Mgmt, the Initialize Disk pop-up (choose between MBR or GPT) will reappear. But again, choosing to proceed results in the error message "The device is not ready" and then the option to reinitialize from the right-click menu becomes greyed out.

Capture.PNG


EaseUS.PNG
 
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DTG1

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If you have access to a PC, not a laptop, you could try to remove the drive from the extrernal case and install it in a PC.

Have you tried to connect the ext-drive to another laptop or PC?
 

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endeavor

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[...]__to see if I could at least preview the files/folders. Most unfortunately, the drive did not show up __[...]

You really did a nice job with your research before posting, and your explanations of the problem ...props on that!

I just have a few things to add if I may.

Besides the other programs mentioned, I also like to use DiskGenius which is another excellent software and has a great GUI to also, as you mentioned - to Preview the Files and Folders on a corrupted HD, and copy them out! I've used this many times for that feature.

Anyway, however if the drive is still not seen, then it points to problems with the drive internals itself.
If that's the case, you have a 50/50 chance to get your data by yourself.
What you need to find out at that point if problem is in the internal electronic interface from it's enclosure to the drive, or, the drive itself gone bad. To do this you will need to remove the drive from its case of course, and connect the bare drive to a USB Hard Drive Docking Station which can accommodate your drive (or if you have a tower you can connect it to your MB if you have cables; if you have neither then USB Docking Stations are a great easy alternative.)
You have a 50/50 chance to get your data, if it's the HD itself not spinning, etc, then nope, but if it's the enclosure interface then yes.

I have seen this before, I've had portable drives like yours do the same thing, I remove the drive, plug it in directly and the bare drive itself was fine and data recovered. I've also seen it be the drive not spinning, the drive head, etc, etc, then nope.

..good luck!
 

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zbook

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Please indicate whether you can move the drive to another computer.

If you can then indicate whether it can be seen in each:

a) BIOS
b) Disk management
c) Device manager
d) File explorer


See if you can boot the computer using a different operating system (Ubuntu / Linux) and report whether the drive is seen:

And boot the computer using Sea Tools and report whether the drive is seen:

If the drive is seen upon boot then run each long generic test and SMART > post images / results.
 

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princeofpersia

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DTG1, FreeBooter, endeavor, zbook - thank you for your replies. I'll find some time this week to remove the drive from its case and install it in a PC or USB docking station. Will report back.

Have you tried to connect the ext-drive to another laptop or PC?
Yes, I've tried connecting it to another laptop/PC without any success in resolving the problem.

See repairing MBR will resolves the problem.
As per previous posts, I'm not able to repair MBR because Windows Disk Management does not allow it ("Device is not ready" error), and other software e.g. MiniTool Partition Wizard (from the link you provided) does not show the drive.

Besides the other programs mentioned, I also like to use DiskGenius

If that's the case, you have a 50/50 chance to get your data by yourself.

connect the bare drive to a USB Hard Drive Docking Station which can accommodate your drive (or if you have a tower you can connect it to your MB if you have cables)
You have a 50/50 chance to get your data, if it's the HD itself not spinning, etc, then nope, but if it's the enclosure interface then yes.
Thanks endeavor - I've been doing DIY troubleshooting for years and thoroughly enjoy it. That is, until I'm faced with something I don't understand or can't fix! Unfortunately, the drive also does not show up on DiskGenius.

When you say "50/50 chance to get your data by yourself" - what are the chances of an "expert" being able to retrieve it? (unless perhaps they happen to work for the drive manufacturer) I've seen one website (halfway across the world from me) which seems to know what they're doing. I've not asked for a quote as yet but I'm expecting something in the range of "unless I win the lottery".

As mentioned earlier, I'll be trying the USB docking station / connect to PC motherboard methods. Will need some time to gather all the necessary equipment. I will add that the drive is spinning - I can hear it stop when I "eject" it via Device Manager before unplugging.

Please indicate whether you can move the drive to another computer.

If you can then indicate whether it can be seen in each:
a) BIOS
b) Disk management
c) Device manager
d) File explorer

See if you can boot the computer using a different operating system (Ubuntu / Linux) and report whether the drive is seen:

And boot the computer using Sea Tools and report whether the drive is seen:

If the drive is seen upon boot then run each long generic test and SMART > post images / results.
I've plugged it into another laptop/PC via USB cable, without success. I'll be trying this week to plug the bare drive into a PC motherboard or USB docking station as suggested by endeavor.

Currently (on all laptops/PCs which I've tried via USB cable) the drive can be seen in Disk Management and Device Manager but not File Explorer. I've yet to check on BIOS so will do this and report back. Will try Sea Tools as well.

Will also try booting on Ubuntu/Linux but at this stage I suspect it could be more of a hardware issue so will attempt the above first.
 

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endeavor

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[....]Thanks endeavor - I've been doing DIY troubleshooting for years and thoroughly enjoy it. That is, until I'm faced with something I don't understand or can't fix! Unfortunately, the drive also does not show up on DiskGenius.

When you say "50/50 chance to get your data by yourself" - what are the chances of an "expert" being able to retrieve it? (unless perhaps they happen to work for the drive manufacturer) I've seen one website (halfway across the world from me) which seems to know what they're doing. I've not asked for a quote as yet but I'm expecting something in the range of "unless I win the lottery".

As mentioned earlier, I'll be trying the USB docking station / connect to PC motherboard methods. Will need some time to gather all the necessary equipment. I will add that the drive is spinning - I can hear it stop when I "eject" it via Device Manager before unplugging.[...]
Yes I could tell right away you've been doing this before and is why I replied. I appreciate it when a member puts that much true effort into troubleshooting like that, and does it so well, I'm more interested to reply. I can also appreciate how you just installed the Trial of DiskGenius and gave it a go (and No I do Not have any affiliation with them at all, it's simply a darn good piece of software (and I own most all the other ones mentioned too, and each are good in their own way) ...anyway I can appreciate how you just install the trials you did and check it out - you have no limitations, and that is a sign of a good technician hell bent of achieving his goal.

what are the chances of an "expert" being able to retrieve it?
If you have the right professional repair facility that has the know-how and equipment, then I'd guess the chances are near 90% also because you said the drive is spinning, however, that's as long as the head assembly is not broken and can pick up data off the platters, then the chances may be even greater.
To do this a professional repair facility will of course remove the drive from the case, and then if they can Not access it directly from the HD itself, as is, then they would disassemble the drive, and depending if they can see, or troubleshoot and detect the obvious problem and fix it right there; if not, then they'll pull the platter assembly and mount it back into an identical (or comparable) working one ..and there you go, proceed to copy data off, and charge you expensive for it.

Anyway in your case it was my drive and the data was that important, and I had no backup (not likely) ..and I could not access it trying various methods, I would buy another new Apacer AC235, and attempt the repair myself by swapping over the obvious parts in hopes of getting it going.

..I personally give 100% attention to creating foolproof backup drive images in the first place, in some cases with duplicate, or triplicate elsewhere, of all my important drives via full drive imaging. I will never again be in that situation of lost data ..been there, done that once 15 years ago, and vowed it will Never happen to me again, since it's so easy to create those backups, and so cheap comparatively; besides it's the best secure rewarding feeling when you need it, and you've done the work and already have the backup available, and able to restore it whole never missing anything ...you'll see
 
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johngalt

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Hi, Prince.

I've dealt with data loss on drives for a variety of reasons, (including my own foolishness most recently), and getting the actual drive out of the enclosure is going to be the absolute first step - there are several components involved here, and isolating the drive will help rule out any of the components outside of the drive itself that may be causing issues (including the mini motherboard that is used to connect via USB to your actual device).

Once you get it mounted into another device (a USB dock is not a bad idea, either, but directly mounting it in a desktop system would be preferable) you can verify if, as ZBook mentioned, the drive is actually available in the computer's BIOS at boot - that will help establish if it is a physical error on the HD platters itself, or if it is possible a fault in the drive's controller board (which I've run into a few times with drives, both from external power surge (due to lightning strikes in my neighborhood) as well as other causes. But if the controller board is is what has gone off the rails, the solution will not be so easy - but it is doable.

I got a lot of my information for repairing drives by replacing the controller boards from HDDGuru.com, and I *think* the articles there are still available, but it is a long process. But it can be done - after you buy a new controller board. However, first we need to verify that the drive is actually working and repairable.
 

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princeofpersia

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Hello folks, I'm back with some updates - and they're not good ones unfortunately. Thank you to @endeavor and @johngalt for your replies since my last post.

I found some time this week to try the following (as suggested by @zbook) with the encased drive:
1. SeaTools - not detected
2. BIOS - not detected

I then got hold of a SATA to USB cable and proceeded to take the bare drive out. Being my first time doing this, I was kinda surprised that within the Apacer branding was a Seagate drive. For reference:
- Part number: 1RK172-030
- Serial number: WDENYZX6
- Model: ST1000LM035

I then took out the 'mini motherboard' and connected the drive to a USB port using the SATA to USB cable. The following happened:
1. Drive was spinning normally
2. Windows attempted to "install driver for new device"
3. Driver installation was unsuccessful (reason "unknown")
4. Subsequent connections to other USB ports on the same laptop resulted in "USB device is not recognised" without any re-attempt to install the driver

5. The drive was not detected on:
- BIOS
- Disk Management (previously the encased drive was detected, I presume as a result of the Apacer 'mini motherboard')
- Device Manager
- File Explorer
- SeaTools / DiskGenius / MiniTool Partition Wizard / IM-Magic Partition Resizer / EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard
- CMD diskpart / mountvol

6. In Control Panel > Hardware and Sound > Devices and Printers, the following happened:
- Drive initially shows up under the Unspecified section as "External", which allows for the possibility of Eject via right-click menu
- After a few moments, where the External icon keeps blinking, it reverts to "Unknown Device", where the only right-click menu options are Create shortcut, Troubleshoot and Properties
- Windows Troubleshooting "couldn't identify the problem"
- Properties shows everything as either Unavailable or Unknown

7. I tried searching for the relevant driver, but entering the serial number on this Seagate webpage results in "No firmware found for this serial number". Searching via Google was also unsuccessful.

8. I also came across this Seagate troubleshooting page. I followed the steps for "Drive not detected troubleshooting":
- Search for Unknown Device under USB Controllers section in Device Manager
- Right-click and select Properties, then refer to the Device Status under "General" tab
- You may see Code 10/28/43
However, I didn't see any codes. All I see under Device Status is "No drivers are installed for this device."

I haven't found the chance to perform the following and will report back once I've done so:
- Mount bare drive to a PC motherboard
- Boot on Ubuntu/Linux
Any further suggestions would be most appreciated. I guess it's not looking good though at this stage.

Thanks again to all!
 

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endeavor

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[...]
I then got hold of a SATA to USB cable and proceeded to take the bare drive out.
- Model: ST1000LM035

Okay you have the HD taken out and and it looks just like this linked picture below right?
ST1000LM035

Just as the drive is pictured in this above link, this is what you connect via a few cables directly to your computer motherboards extra sockets that will accept this; or, alternatively a secondary try would be to slide this drive into a USB dock which will accept that drive exactly 'as is' shown in the picture, you just slide it in.


then took out the 'mini motherboard'
I assume you meant the circuit board in the enclosure case? ..and not the one on the HD itself as shown in the above picture, because not much would work right if you took that HD one out.

If all software testing fails with your software troubleshooting, then moving on to hardware issues and so to remove / replace this HD circuit board shown to assess would be one of the few last chances to solve hardware issues. For instance if you have a (random links) brand new or brand new working exact duplicate of your HD in hand (or separate identical parts) to swap out and replace that HD circuit board in hopes the problem was in that particular board (50/50) ..but after that the only few things left like the platter assembly, etc, of which you will certainly need a professional technician situation to do that platter swap from the old to the new.


.
 
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johngalt

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In external drives, there is a small circuit board that helps the drive be used as a USB drive when it is natively IDE / SATA. That's what he is referring to.

it sounds like the controller board for the drive itself is bad. I've had that happen with numerous Western Digital drives and a couple of Seagate drives. But, one thing to note, not all BIOS will recognize a drive attached to USB as a drive. I suspect, however, that if you were to plug in the drive directly to a SATA port in a computer you'd get the same thing - the drive will not be recognized.

A lot of Seagate drives end up being a simple problem - there is a very particular resistor (diode (I forget which) that is used *solely* for over voltage protection. If that component gets blown, then the drive is rendered unusable - and symptoms are exactly as you describe - spins up rather normally, no massively loud clicking (indicating a stuck drive head), normal actuation sounds, but 0 reconizability in any computer.

Unfortunately, it is in a different spot in every model they (Seagate) make - and they usually want something on the order of like $500-$1500 USD to recover the data for such a simple problem (I've had this exact component get blown by an over-voltage situation caused by a nearby lightning strike in my neighborhood - lost a year of my Masters research (until I got it almost all back).

The information at HHD.guru is where I was able to use to 'fix' my Seagate drives - but in actuality, all I did was solder a shunt across that one components contacts, effectively creating a manual jumper, and then connect the drives to my computer to extract the data off of them. Not an easy task, and you have to know exactly which points to shunt in order to avoid frying the board. Another option would be to find a replacement board for the drive online, but you have to make sure that it has the same firmware as what is installed on the current board - otherwise the drives contents may be unreadable.

Did you try the bootable SeaTools to see if it could recognize the drive outside of the OS? BarraCuda 2.5 | Seagate Support US

The SeaTools bootable is a .ZIP that you'll need to extract and then run the installer to create the bootable USB. Be sure to disconnect your currently connected USB drives (including the drive you're testing) before inserting a fresh USB that can be formatted because the installer will be formatting the drive you use.
 
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princeofpersia

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Thank you @endeavor and @johngalt for your replies. Apologies that I disappeared for a bit - amidst the pandemic and having been unemployed for almost 9 months, I landed a new job and have been busy settling in.

- Yes, I was referring to the "Apacer-branded" circuit board when I said "mini motherboard".

- I might just get a duplicate new HD to attempt a DIY repair. Would certainly cost a hell of a lot less. Finding time to read & gather the necessary info and to then perform this would be more challenging... Having said that, I've lived without the contents of this drive for over a month now, and although thus far have not missed anything, I'm still paranoid that months or even years down the line I'll suddenly need something. I've not heard of HHD Guru previously, so thanks for sharing! It seems like a very useful site.

- Interesting to read about the diode. A previous employer of mine from around 5-6 years ago had an early model (can't remember which exactly) from HP's low-budget all-in-one Pavilion series for us staff. If I recall correctly it used a Toshiba HD. Each time there was an interruption in power supply (lightning strike, accidental switch off at socket) even if the PC was on sleep, the HD would be fried. I was there for 3 years and must have gone through at least 5 HDs myself. I never got to hear of the actual cause as the only people who said they could attempt a fix were Toshiba themselves, and we didn't bother with the fees...

- In the event that I do attempt the DIY soldering and perform it incorrectly, what is the worst case scenario? Beyond frying the HD, would there be potential damage to my laptop/PC, USB port, etc.?

- I've not tried the bootable SeaTools and will do so at the next opportunity.
 

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endeavor

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<.....>
- In the event that I do attempt the DIY soldering and perform it incorrectly, what is the worst case scenario? Beyond frying the HD, would there be potential damage to my laptop/PC, USB port, etc.?

It's not a problem for a capable electronic technician with a history of hands-on experience, and so this would be a very minor swap really, simply matching everything exactly with no mistakes in connections from soldering, or any of the normal expected considerations; otherwise, for a person who does not have electronic experience with a hands-on electronics background - then don't do it.

I do, and myself being a (now retired) licensed technician, I would easily do it, but that's just me. YMMV !
 

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johngalt

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First of all, Congratulations - that's at least one load off your mind, for sure.

Yeah, I never bothered with actual component swap because I was already moving to larger sized drives anyway, and the effort to swap the component and make sure it was viable (after initially sourcing the component first, of course) and then putting the data through a barrage of tests to verify its viability for long term use ... I gave up on that idea, being in school at the time, and later on after I grabbed the data off of it I went the opposite route - after shunting the contacts so the drive would function, I grabbed all relevant data off of it and then completely dismantled the drive, keeping the platters and a couple of other internal components for the fun of it.

Now, nearly 10 years later, I've taken apart many mechanical drives, and I have many drives in various states of disassembly - and they make for great teaching tools for the CompTIA A+ cert classes I teach. I even have one with just the cover off so it can be powered on to demonstrate all of the actuation and platters spinning and everything inside. I also made a video once of a spinning drive with me applying a piece of metal to the platter surface as it was spinning to demonstrate just how fast the surface is prone to destruction if actual contact is made with the drive heads.

But, that is neither here nor there. What is relevant is that I never trusted the drives again specifically because it was a lightning strike. Even with a full replaced board, I'd have had to jump through hoops to make sure the firmware was the same version. I took the easy way out and put the data elsewhere for safe(r) keeping.

One thing to note - if you do soldering on the controller board, it is *ALWAYS* when removed from the HD (this does NOT open the HD internal components to open air). So, if it gets mangled / fried, you can still get a replacement board, make sure FW is the same version, and be able to use that. But replacement board setup is much more complicated than the component replacement (or bypass, if it is, indeed, the overvoltage resistor / diode that is blown and nothing more).

if you plan to go the DIY soldering technique, @endeavor obviously has tons more experience doing this, and would probably be a much better resource than I (along with HDDGuru, of course), but if you could, I'd still like to keep up with your decisions and progress on this case. So, if you could, keep posting here until it is resolved, one way or another? TIA.
 

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endeavor

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PS,
princeofpersia,

~ I've always said here that this type of repair is for an experienced tech individual, or professional, and so if you don't have the technical ability to DIY accomplish any of these things on your own though, then save yourself the $, time, and hassle, and move on; but for next time be proactive, and have extra backups of your data*

Having said that Disclaimer though, your particular drive is pretty easy to change that entire board if you have the $60 to throw away to test 'as a chance' you get lucky and it works. I've given you the links to buy a "New" ST1000LM035 in my previous post #12 above. You need to make sure it's a near duplicate HD for obvious reasons of board to board compatibility.

Let me show you something here for a minute, I've got a Seagate in the bin it's not identical to yours and is 2 TB, but it's the same time period and similar framework, so I'll use it here as a reference - so I took some pictures just now for you:

Picture 1 - first, here is an online picture showing your ST1000LM035 for comparison:
(click each spoiler below to see pictures)
Picture 1 - first, here is an online picture showing your ST1000LM035 for comparison
1. Your ST1000LM035.jpg



Picture 2
Picture 2 - Compare with my picture just taken of a Seagate ST2000DM001 I've mentioned to you about above
2.jpg



Picture 3
Picture 3 - To replace this board, as I just did, remove the torque screws holding it on (yours may be Philip screws)
3.jpg



Picture 4
..as you can see here, I've removed the screws and lifted off the board - and there's no wires at all, it comes right off, and just uses smart designed press contacts for all connections instead, as you would expect.

4.JPG


~ If you have an identical new board, as you can see how EASY it is - you could change out this entire board in literally 10 seconds.
(btw, normal cautions for a no static workplace)

~ Will it solve the problem, well it all depends if the problem is in the board (50/50%) ...but ..'if'.. the problem is within the board, and you have an identical board to replace it with, I'd give it a 99% chance of success ....ymmv



~ I would not 'normally' take the time to repair an old drive either, I would bin it and move on since I would already have a backup of that backup, and besides if the drive is old I would not want to ultimately trust the drive 'long term' anyway, unless the cause/resolve was understood and known to be predictable and minor. Replacing the board for a DIY project is a last chance hail-mary approach (for those that should not be in that situation in the first place). It's also understood that the repair is normally ultimately aimed at just being able to copy the data off of the drive.

~ And yes sure as has been suggested, if you can replace a single component on the board that you know is, or historically goes bad, and if you have access to the parts, etc, and the complete wherewithal to change them out to see if it works... then go for it; but, in this case for the low price of replacing the entire board - and no fuss ease of doing as you saw above, so with just a few screws.. well, you decide.

~ *Just to say again, one should always have at least one (if not two like I do) backups of your 'most important' data on any drive, preferably a full partition/drive image backup ..and stored on two different drives than the source. It's simple, easy, and very effective ...it's the cheapest and most effective data insurance policy you can ever get. In a situation like yours, you would just throw the broken drive away because you would have access to its backed-up data to quickly move on! ..not having to fuss with any repair like this.
 
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johngalt

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The ONE thing that is absolutely critical when conducting a board swap is to make sure that you have the same *exact* firmware on the board. At HDDGuru, they outline a process where by you place the new board on the drive, but place a 'business card' or some other thing made of a non-conductive material over those three connection points on the drive itself between them and the board, and then flash the correct firmware, and then remove that non-conductive material so that it makes contact with the HD pins and spins it up and (hopefully) will be recognized by your system.

It's absolutely critical that you read through and understand all of the steps, if you plan to proceed down this route.
 

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endeavor

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johngalt is right, so princeofpersia please go to HDDGuru and read-up/post there to continue on from here for any further procedures necessary. I want you to completely succeed with this if you decide to continue.
 

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princeofpersia

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Thank you both so much for your replies, they've been very helpful. After evaluating, the fact that I've not had to refer to anything on the broken drive thus far means I am now a lot more comfortable to take the risk with DIY.

I found out that my mum has the exact same HD with same firmware (we bought from the same shop days apart), so I've treated her to a new HD in exchange for this spare. Let's see if the board swap works - although it'll be a while before I can find time to attempt.

If I do go down the soldering route, guys next door to my new employer actually do custom boards (for parts where obscure manufacturers have gone defunct with no further support) and have agreed to help should I need. Either way, I'll post here once there is (hopefully) a result!
 

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