External Hard Drive Repair: Hardware Checks That Can Help You Fix a HDD

by Rod Dunne on February 23, 2011

in Hardware

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It is essential when doing any external hard drive repair work to ensure from the start that no hardware faults or mechanical damage is causing problems. If you ignore these types of faults then they could lead to data loss. Here I’ll show you some of the hardware checks you can try for yourself.

Sounds can be the key

The starting point when doing an external hard drive repair is to listen out for unusual sounds coming from the machine. When the drive is operational/running you should listen out for clicking noises which may indicate the motor itself is starting to fail. You should also listen for loose components rattling around internal casing or for any sort grinding noises (which relates to components seizing up).

Inlets & Loose cabling

In truth, you could open the drive to check for components that have come loose but motor damage & seized components are more severe and should really be left to the experts to fix. Do not try realigning read heads if they have become misaligned as this could cause further scratching and damage the hard drive platters.

More generally, you should check that all of the air inlets on the external hard drive are clear of dust and unblocked. This is to ensure that the internal components are not overheating. Be careful that you have not placed the drive near a heat source or on an uneven desk surface (which could inadvertently block the vents).

You should also check the cabling on the system for signs of damage. Look for any evidence that they might be burnt out. Examine the pins on the connectors to make sure they have not been pushed in, damaged or bent. Try using a different USB port on your computer to make sure this is not the root cause of the fault.

Try a 2nd PC

An extra safeguard when doing an external hard drive repair check is to attempt to connect it to a secondary PC. Do not discount the possibility that your laptop/computer is having a fault detecting the external drive (identifiable via the Device Manager utility).

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