Water Damaged Hard Drive

Here’s an interesting recent question that was submitted to me from a couple of days back:

Hitachi H2T500854S HDD“We are a computer maintenance company. We have a Laptop on behalf of a customer with a water affected Hard drive. The drive is a Hitachi 2.5” P/N H2T500854S SATA. We have cleaned the liquid from the PCB and drive body but it still appears dead and will not spin up. Our customer has asked us to obtain a budget quote for Data recovery so would be grateful if you could give us a rough estimate for you guys to do this.”

As you’ve already cleaned the drive up and dried it out, my instinct is that the drive has a faulty component on it’s PCB. This is actually very common, particularly if the laptop computer was on at the time water was spilt on it. When the water encountered the PCB the effect would have been a short circuit across the hard drive’s PCB with a very high probability that one or more components on the board will have been damaged.

Finding a compatible hard drive PCB is what you need to do, but replacing the existing PCB with the replacement one will not result in the hard drive giving up it’s data. The hard drive will start to work again insomuch as it will power up, but it will now tick. This is because the hard drive is running with the wrong roadmap. It’s necessary to copy the data across from the ROM on the old PCB across to the new one before the drive will be fully restored and the data can again be accessed.

Sourcing the PCB will be difficult enough – it’s not just a case of finding the same model hard drive and using it’s controller board. Hard drive models are manufactured in tens of thousands, and each production run is slightly different – components change which change the overall configuration of the hard drive. Therefore you need to find a match as close to the manufactured date of your hard drive as you can. This way you have a much better chance of ensuring that the components used on the two hard drives are the same.

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