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Old 03-07-2012, 12:26 AM   #1
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Default Possible to swap platters between two hard drives?

Today I tripped and fell and in the process of trying to catch myself I accidentally threw my cell phone when I threw my arms out. I'm OK, but the phone hit the open MacBook Pro on the floor right above the hard drive, breaking my phone and, denting the computer case.

Soon the CPU was running full throttle with the system error process, the computer wouldn't shut down properly and so I did a cold restart and it won't boot. Upon removing the hard drive I noticed that the dent was right over either the spindle motor or either the onboard cache memory or the disk controller chip.

I can read various chunks off at the block level, but there are certain unpredictable sections of the disk that won't read. Like a dummy I didn't make a backup last night when I thought about it, and now I need my stuff.

This is a hardware problem, so not even my low level disk data recovery software is working. Data recovery services are expensive, butů

Theoretically I could swap the platters from a good working drive with these from my current drive.

My question is: Does the drive I use as the host have to be identical, or will any drive of the same capacity work? I'm not familiar with how the sectors are laid out on the drive physically, including the spacing of the physical data, and if it's standardized or not. If Brand A has sectors 1nm apart and Brand B 1.2nm apart, then I can't put Brand A platters in a Brand B drive and expect it to read. Obviously an identical drive would work, but that might be tricky to find.

Oh yeah, an important note: I work in a Class 10 cleanroom, so that isn't an issue.
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Old 03-07-2012, 09:16 AM   #2
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Default Re: Possible to swap platters between two hard drives?

It might work, in theory. I think for the best results, use an identical drive.
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Old 03-07-2012, 10:19 AM   #3
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Default Re: Possible to swap platters between two hard drives?

It would be an interesting experiment but my guess is that it probably won't work due to the heads being misaligned. A floppy drive is designed so that a disk written by one drive can be read on another drive but not so with hard drives. To have any chance of working, it would need to be an identical drive.
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Old 03-07-2012, 10:32 AM   #4
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Default Re: Possible to swap platters between two hard drives?

Identical drive only. It's surely interesting, but you'll need a dust free environement and these doctor's gloves to avoid fingerprints on the drive. However, if the dent in on the motor, that could cause friction and slow things down. How about if you open that cop cover and pop back those dents?
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Old 03-07-2012, 11:02 AM   #5
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Default Re: Possible to swap platters between two hard drives?

Well, if the hit was hard enough to cause dents, then it is likely you crashed the heads; and that area of the disc will be unreadable.

The disc has a low-level format to tell the drive electronics where the readable tracks are, so that isn't a problem, though I agree that you should go for an identical drive.

There are two major obstacles-- first, a class 10 cleanroom isn't that clean. Seriously, it's the lowest classification and only slightly cleaner than my mother's living room.

Second, and more importantly, is getting that disc perfectly centered and balanced in the new drive. I used to repair main-frame hard drives: 5MB per side (therefore, 10MB per platter) 18" discs, 1nm spacing between the head and platter or so--that is pretty loose compared to the tolerances allowed in modern 2.5" drives-- and getting the discs installed correctly and aligning the heads was a major pain in the butt. Back then.

Nowadays, I'm sure it's a thousand times worse and requires lasers and stuff.

With all that said; no pain, no gain, right? If you can afford to sacrifice an identical model drive to get back your data, then have at.
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Old 03-07-2012, 11:15 AM   #6
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Default Re: Possible to swap platters between two hard drives?

Although, I suppose if he bends the dents back, he could have enough time to backup as much as possible though, right?
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Old 03-07-2012, 11:23 AM   #7
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Default Re: Possible to swap platters between two hard drives?

Depending on the nature of the dent, if it actually is binding things up, I suppose it is possible; though if he crashed the heads...

Then again, he says he is able to read off some sections. Perhaps a disk recovery tool might help.
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Old 03-07-2012, 11:34 AM   #8
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Default Re: Possible to swap platters between two hard drives?

Oh and about these class 10 rooms there, I bet my room is cleaner when I do weekly cleaning
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Old 03-07-2012, 12:12 PM   #9
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Default Re: Possible to swap platters between two hard drives?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dngrsone View Post
...
There are two major obstacles-- first, a class 10 cleanroom isn't that clean. Seriously, it's the lowest classification and only slightly cleaner than my mother's living room. ...
Huh? A class 10 cleanroom is many times cleaner than your mother's living room. Your mother's living room would be class 1,000,000 or so. In really simple terms the class states how many particles are allowed in a cubic foot of air.

I worked in IBM's disk drive business for 20 years and managed a department in the disk manufacturing area. Our area was class 10,000 which is clean enough that we had to wear cleanroom smocks while working. Other areas of the disk process were class 100 where people had to wear smocks, hats, booties and masks.
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Old 03-07-2012, 07:39 PM   #10
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Default Re: Possible to swap platters between two hard drives?

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Huh? A class 10 cleanroom is many times cleaner than your mother's living room. Your mother's living room would be class 1,000,000 or so. In really simple terms the class states how many particles are allowed in a cubic foot of air.
You've never met my mom; nor seen the museum she calls her living room.

Quote:
Originally Posted by strollin View Post
I worked in IBM's disk drive business for 20 years and managed a department in the disk manufacturing area. Our area was class 10,000 which is clean enough that we had to wear cleanroom smocks while working. Other areas of the disk process were class 100 where people had to wear smocks, hats, booties and masks.


You're right... I honestly don't know what I was thinking-- class 10 is way up there and would be perfectly suitable for working on a hard drive. My apologies.

For those not familiar with cleanrooms: Cleanroom wiki
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