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Data Recovery Projects

Stuck Heads On A Seagate ST3500413AS 500GB Drive

This drive came to us as a referral from a local computer shop here in Hutch. It was making a buzzing sound when power was applied and was not recognized at all by any computer they had tried it on.

PCB of Seagate ST3500413AS

Opening the drive in my clean room environment revealed that the heads were stuck on the platter and the drive was not able to spin. The next step was to “unstick” the heads from the platter and inspect for head damage.

You can find a lot of videos on YouTube showing people using various methods for unsticking the heads on their hard drives. Please be very, very, very careful in considering the do it yourself method on these drives. I would say about 30-50% of the time someone who is very careful and has good hand eye coordination (and a steady hand) can use one of the methods described and get away with it.

The proper method is to only open the drive in a clean room environment, then use a tool that is specifically designed for lifting heads off the platter surface (there are different sizes of the tools for different drives). The next step is to use a microscope to see if the heads have any damage on them before attempting to power on the drive. If there is damage on the heads they will need to be swapped out before continuing. Powering up a drive with head damage can cause scratching on the platters making the data unrecoverable by anyone.

I am not a fan of scaring people into using professional service, but this is one of those cases where a lot of people will have success and tell others to use the do it yourself method and end up ruining their chances of a full recovery. If your data is replaceable, or not super important, trying to unstick the heads on your drive yourself might be a good idea. But if you really need the data or if it is not replaceable (like photos), just wait and find a reputable recovery company that has the correct tools to complete the job safely.

Seagate ST3500413AS

In this case I was able unstick the heads with the proper tools, checked the heads under a microscope and found they were all still intact with no issues. The drive started right up and I was able to image 100% of the data with only a few passes with the imager.

Seagate ST3500413AS Parked

This client was pleased to have their data safely back.

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