The important of Repairing Hard Drive in a Clean Room

The important of a Clean Room

Demonstrated here is a typical case scenario when you open the top of a failed hard

drive… to see if there is any obvious fault before you decide to send it into a data recovery company

First I will display what is not normally seen by the human eye and also what critical adjustment to flying height of the read write heads that could be critical to the recovery of the data

What is a Clean room for hard drive repair & data recovery?

This is the Prevention and the reduction of dust particles and contamination of the hard drive platters, but is this necessary?

Trust me it is!

Below is a demonstration of an opened hard drive that has had the lid removed and the

Actuator (Magnet) Replaced on a clean desk that would have only been exposed for less than 3 minutes



As you can see the particles are clearly visible when a camera flash is used

TIP: If for what ever reason you have taken the lid off your hard drive to investigate the clicking or strange noise: Use a can of Compressed air to quickly remove any contaminants prior to replacing the Top of the hard drive. Its not so much that dust causes major Problems it’s things like dead skin that instantly sticks to the platter of the hard drive. When it comes to file structures such as Mac HFS+ data is daisy chained and one bad sector can cause the rest of the chain to fall off with NO recollection of where it belongs

Here is a good example of a basic clean room.

This one was the 3rd clean room construction I had done, it was definitely the smallest but it was very good.



Please Note: This area will be slowly updated with common faults from hard drives that I see on a daily bases, these will consist of jammed spindle motors to system area faults, head crashes, PCB component issues, stuck read write heads to the unfortunate unrepair-able faults

visit our website for updates Printed Circuit Board Failure (PCB). These range from spindle IC failure such as overheating and even a physical burn out of components. This could even be the aftermath of more serious problems such as the bearings locking up of the spindle motor that rotates the internal platters at variable speeds. Spindle Motor Jam As mentioned above this can cause all sorts of problems… you might even think there is no power getting to the drive and yet every time you try something new in the hopes of retrieving data… all you accomplish is more damage to critical components.

Head Crash Related

This can be caused by several different scenarios from rotational speed enabling the read write heads to make contact with the platters, which would normally cause a ring or scratch around the platters surface.

Head Slap or violent knocking of the armature causing the heads to become misaligned Unsuccessful park when from an improper shut down System Area Problems Bad Translator, Grown Defects, Log Files & Smart can cause havoc with a drive Common Model Faults: IBM Hitachi Notebook Hard Disk Drives

HTS541040G9AT00…….. HTS548020M9AT00…….. HTS726060M9AT00…….. HTS548040M9AT00……..

IC25N060ATMR04-0……. IC25N030ATMR04-0……. IC25N040ATMR04-0……. IC25N040ATCS05-0……. IC25N020ATCS04-0…….

Although with the naked eye the platter seems intact.. but as in this example I have removed the platters and sprayed the drive with a tell all solution, a very fine ring appears, although small, this is enough to kill any replacement parts in seconds


Seagate Jammed, Stuck Spindle Motor

This is a very common issue especially with hard drives 250 gigabyte and up, This is mostly caused by a sharp shock to the drive while in motion, such as knocking the drive over in an external USB enclosure. Below I have pulled this jammed spindle motor apart to demonstrate where the fault lies and what not to do!

First of all

Problem #1

This is NOT a spindle Bearing problem so trying to put any type of oil is not going to achieve anything but unrecoverable platter damage, if you do indeed manage to resurrect the drive to spin.. rotational gravity will take over and seep any oil away from the bearings and all over your platter.

This is a true story I have seen many times. As you can see in the diagram the spindles shaft has caused unrepair-able abrasions in the spindles cylinder… this is much like a piston from a car engine, it needs to move freely and if damaged this would need to be machined smooth or re-bored So forcing of the spindle to turn, will only make matters worse… this spindle motor needs to be replaced!


Problem #2

The Spindle Motor in a Seagate Drive is Mounted to the hard drive assembly! So what this means is you now have to remove the platters and you need a whole new matching hard drive assembly to remount the drives platters. This is a major problem as Hard drives have gotten bigger in density but not in size, so the are very delicate. These Platters are sensitive to dust as well as containing delicate components easily damaged by static electricity, so opening these drives on your desk and attempting to loosen the drives spindle by putting screwdrivers or sharp objects in the vacant screw holes will only damage the platters components and of course the famous slip from whatever tool you are using to cause a great scratch on the surface of the platters… once again I have seen this many times.

Problem #3

Balancing and Alignment of the Platters are Crucial to any recovery so do not disturb there original position for any reason or you might as well bin the drive. These Platters need to be taken out as a set without being disturbed.

Problem #4

The read write heads are now stuck to the platter of the drive! What this means is read write heads are not designed to touch the platter of the drive, But there is a park area on the platter for the drive to land on when turned off, this area has many tiny holes to prevent the heads from sticking to the surface of the platter. what our problem is with a hard drive that is jammed is removing these heads from the drive with out touching the platter of the drive, remember the platters are stuck they do not move so any attempt to slide the heads off will result in the heads sticking to the platters and altering the heads alignment as well as possible platter damage. These Jammed Seagate Spindle Motors are a very serious problem, If your hard drive is stuck or not spinning or making a slight grinding noise and you suspect that it is jammed…

Clicking Noisy Hard drive

On the Side of the Base of most hard drives is a sticker that collects any contaminants when it comes to dust or the fatal head crash. Head crash is a term used for describing when the read\write heads make contact with the hard drives platters causing scratches or ditches damaging the platters clean smooth surface, in a lot of cases this will remove all the ceramic coating of the platter leaving a see through glass and platter dust.



Above is a demonstration of removing the side sticker on a clicking Maxtor HDD to see if the sticker is clean, as you can see this HDD is not in good shape if the sticker is black or contains any type of silver dust then unfortunately you data will be lost and HDD Repairs will not be possible, further more once I had realized the is drive was damaged I removed the Lid to inspect just how bad. As you can see this HDD has had a severe head crash NOTE if you remove the sticker and it appears to be clean, there is still a possibility of a fine scratch that has not caused any platter dust for the sticker to pick up, but most importantly if it is clean Do NOT REMOVE the top of the drive on your desk and if you do, use a can of compressed air to keep the platters clean before putting the top back on. Beeping or Humming Hard Drive If you put power the HDD and you here a beeping sound, this would normally indicate that the spindle motor is jammed. Please see the Common Faults page in relation to this article. Under any circumstances should you undo the screws or remove the platters of the HDD. Demonstrated Below is how balanced the platters are: note the plugs in the spindle motor.


This is much like getting your tires balanced this is a counter weight to enable clean rotation of the HDD Platters, this alignment needs to stay intact for any hope of HDD repairs Computer will not turn when I plug in the HDD. This will most likely be a power failure of the PCB and the PCB is drawing more power than what the whole computer needs to boot, Chance of repair is high but parts can be an issue. The hard drive Smells Smell the HDD PCB, if the Drive smells bad then it has had a power Surge and you need to check for obvious physical damage to the PCB.


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