How can I recover data from an external hard drive that appears to fail initialization?

Anonymous August 12, 2014

I have a Seagate 2tb external drive. When power up, drive spins, heads move 2 short movements, 3rd time moves across to center of drive, returns back, then drive stops. I replaced the PCB, same results with new board. I need to find someone who can tell me how to keep the drive spinning so I can get my data. I don’t have any cash for those who are able to get my data, just need some instructions on how to fix it myself.
Any ideas?

  1. CJ Cotter
    August 12, 2014 at 10:41 pm

    Are you sure that the problem is the drive? If you can get a different external enclosure, swap it out and--while you're at it--replace the cable connections, as well. Don't give up on your drive just yet. Be suspicious about EVERYthing connecting it to your computer. Plug your external drive into someone else's computer, as well, to see what results you get.

  2. Oron J
    August 12, 2014 at 10:26 am

    Terje makes some excellent points. Basically, you need an IDENTICAL PCB, any change at all, even in the minor digit of the firmware, is likely to prevent the disk from working. Also, with some modern drives (especially certain external drives from WD), you can't replace the PCBs at all.

    It's also possible that there is a mechanical problem with the drive. For example, alignment problems are fairly common, whereby the armature (the "tone arm" as it were) gets knocked out of kilter and doesn't settle down in the middle of each track, in which case it would react more or less as you described - the arm would move across the platter a couple of times, trying to align the registration, fail, and return to its "safe landing zone".

    So it may be that your disc really needs to go to a data-recovery center after all, but first of all, check the controller boards for any difference in model, firmware version etc.

  3. Terje E
    August 12, 2014 at 8:53 am


    Did you change the PCB on the harddrive itself? or on the external enclosure?

    Are the PCB you changed to exactly the same?

    Have you tried to connect the hdd internally in a computer? Without the external enclosure.

  4. Terje E
    August 12, 2014 at 8:31 am

    Are you sure the PCB are exactly the same version as the one you had?? Have you changed the PCB on the harddrive or on the external cabinet?

    Have you taken the harddrive out of the cabinet and connected it as an internal hdd in a desktop?

    A very risky and very difficult last solution is to get an exactly same harddrive and swap the "discs"