Linked by Howard Fosdick on Mon 31st Dec 2012 20:26 UTC
Hardware, Embedded Systems Last month, I explained why I use generic desktops and laptops running open source software. They're reliable and inexpensive. But this presumes you can fix them. I believe that even those with no hardware training (like me), can identify and fix most hardware problems. To prove it, here's a quick guide. Feel free to add whatever I've missed.
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Drive not spinning
by WereCatf on Mon 31st Dec 2012 21:25 UTC
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If the drive is not spinning, most people assume it is dead. Usually, but not always. Sometimes you can get a dead drive working again by hitting it or dropping it. Freezing the drive sometimes works. Be certain you have no alternatives before trying these methods because they may destroy your drive! Prepare carefully in advance. You might only have one chance to succeed and you don't want to blow it.

If you get a drive working this way DO NOT EVER ASSUME IT WILL CONTINUE TO WORK. Copy anything you feel is important to you off of the drive as soon as possible and assume that the drive will fail completely soon.

Also quite obviously the drive should not be powered on when you try hitting it, the drive heads will hit the platters. As for freezing the drive: you don't necessarily have to freeze it, just lowering its temperature to near zero Celsius may work. The thing is that that when you freeze the drive to sub-zero temperatures moisture may condense inside the drive and then you're just worse off than you were before.

The reason for why these may work is if the oil on the bearings has gone bad and gotten crusty around the bearings -- dropping the temperature cools down the metal parts and shrinks them by miniscule amounts and therefore may set them loose, and a small amount of sudden force applied to the side of the drive may loosen enough of the crusty oil to get the bearings going for a moment longer. If the bearings themselves are gone, however, these won't work.

As always I recommend people to monitor mechanical drives' status via their S.M.A.R.T. health status and act before the drive goes bad. It doesn't always catch the issues, but often it does. I use Hard Disk Sentinel under Windows (not a free application) for this, don't know of any good GUI-application for this under Linux, though.

Reply Score: 5

RE: Drive not spinning
by woegjiub on Mon 31st Dec 2012 23:39 in reply to "Drive not spinning"
woegjiub Member since:

For a Linux alternative, the gnome disk checker which comes with Ubuntu works well.

Reply Parent Score: 3

RE: Drive not spinning
by umccullough on Tue 1st Jan 2013 02:48 in reply to "Drive not spinning"
umccullough Member since:

Also quite obviously the drive should not be powered on when you try hitting it, the drive heads will hit the platters.

Oh? I assumed the point of hitting it was to 1) get it spinning again while powered on (this was common with older drives when the spindle motors got tired, a good thump would sometimes get them going again) or 2) to free up the actuator for the heads.

In either case, hitting it while powered should be ok, as long as you were hitting it from the side/edge, and not the top or bottom.

Of course, I would only consider such a tactic as 'desperate measures' for a disk that you had already pronounced dead.

Reply Parent Score: 2

RE[2]: Drive not spinning
by Elv13 on Tue 1st Jan 2013 04:37 in reply to "RE: Drive not spinning"
Elv13 Member since:

I did this time and time again, I also suggest hitting it when powered down. I found to hit it from 5 centimeter above a parallel surface from the longer side of the disk to be the most efficient method. It work when the head or the disks get stuck. It usually need to move only a tiny amount to get freed. I also confirm that if it did this once, it will usually break again soon, for ever.

Reply Parent Score: 3