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Laptop hard drive Circuit board repair

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Cracking open a laptop hard drive Circuit Board Repair How to Replace the Pins on a Laptop Hard Drive Common hard drive faults & solution

The Hitachi Travelstar

Laptops are quickly overtaking desktops as the computer of choice. The heart of any laptop, meanwhile, is its hard drive. Explore this image gallery to see how one of the world's most popular mobile hard disks (the Hitachi Travelstar) is put together to power countless laptops. You'll gain a new perspective on the main component powering all those notebooks you see the next time you frequent the local coffeehouse. The Hitachi Travelstar mobile hard disk. This model sported a 5400rpm motor, ATA interface and 40GB of data storage.

Removing the hard drive cage

This particular Hitachi Travelstar was removed from a Dell Inspiron laptop. Several Philips screws (one of which is shown here at the top left corner) must be removed to free the Hitachi hard disk from the silver hard disk assembly used to hold the hard drive securely within the Dell Inspiron's hard disk bay.

The hard disk cage

This silver cage, perforated to encourage cooling airflow, holds the hard disk securely within the Dell's hard disk bay.

Hard disk cage removed

Once the hard disk cage's screws are removed, the assembly falls free from the Hitachi hard drive. The Hitachi's circuit board, shown here on the right, is then revealed.

Disassembling the Hitachi Travelstar

To continue disassembling the Hitachi Travelstar, next several small Torx screws must be removed. So, too, must the drive's label.

Disassembling the Hitachi Travelstar

The hard disk's label must be removed to reveal a seventh hidden Torx screw. Once this last Torx screw is eliminated, the cover freely opens. It should be noted, of course, that removing the label (even if the screw behind the label remains) voids the manufacturer's warranty.

Inside the Hitachi Travelstar

Once the seven Torx screws are removed, the drive's front cover (now shown on the left) easily slips away.

Inside the Hitachi Travelstar Hard Disk

Removing the cover reveals the actual Hitachi hard disk platter (the large silver mirrorlike disk), actuator arm (whose arm begins at approximately the 7 o'clock position in this image) and spindle motor (the silver circle in the center). Meanwhile, the actuator arm mechanism, which is responsible for controlling and moving the actuator arm, is the silver metallic assembly in the bottom left corner.

The Hitachi hard drive cover

Here's a close up of the underside of the Hitachi hard drive's front cover.

The actuator arm

Here you can see the Hitachi Travelstar actuator arm, controller assembly and circuit board. The actual hard disk head, which is responsible for reading and writing data, sits at the very tip of the actuator arm.


The Travelstar read/write head

In this closeup of the Travelstar's actuator arm, you can see the read/write head that sits at the arm's tip. The head, of course, is responsible for reading and writing data to the Travelstar's hard disk platter.


The Hitachi Travelstar, minus actuator

Here's the Hitachi Travelstar hard disk with the actuator arm, assembly and circuit board removed. All that remains, essentially, is the Travelstar hard disk platter and the spindle motor hub.


The Hitachi Travelstar platter

The actual Hitachi Travelstar hard disk is smaller than a mini CD. Here you can see it pictured next to a small screwdriver.


The spindle cover

The Travelstar's spindle (and spacer) are tiny. Engineered to perform at precise tolerances, the actual spindle cover and spacer are quite small; they must be to accommodate the smaller mobile two-and-a-half inch hard disks.


The Travelstar circuit board

Removing several additional Torx screws from the drive's bottom enables slipping the Travelstar's circuit board away from the hard disk cover. This specific board features Samsung-manufactured circuits. The board also contains the pin assembly (positioned here on the board's left edge) used to connect the drive to a PC or IDE cable.


Hitachi Travelstar circuit board

The backside of the Hitachi Travelstar Circuit Board reveals the component was manufactured in Malaysia. Here you can also see another view of the same pin assembly shown in the last image (positioned here along the board's right edge).


The Disassembled Laptop Hard Drive Parts

Here are all the components that powered this Hitachi Travelstar mobile drive through its three-year lifecycle.


How to Replace the Pins on a Laptop Hard Drive

The laptop hard drive, mostly a reduced version of a standard hard drive, has data cable connector pins that may break off. Replacing these pins is a straightforward process that will require moderate computer hardware skills. Instructions

Things You'll Need:

Damaged laptop hard drive Replacement controller board Small screwdrivers (Phillips and TORX)

Step 1


Unscrew the damaged hard drive's TORX screws that are holding the controller circuit board in place. The controller cards contain all of the data pins, which cannot be easily re-soldered. Step 2 Carefully remove the controller board from the hard drive. There is a small ribbon cable on the back or bottom of the card that will tear if not handled properly. Tugging on it very gently will dislodge it. If the ribbon cable comes from the hard drive and plugs into the controller card, then it must be removed, not cut.

Step 3 Replace the controller board with one from a similar make and model, and plug in the ribbon cable. Some manufacturers will use the same controller cards for several models over a product's lifespan. Since the pins are very small and very close together, it is not possible to repair them once they break off. They must be replaced with the controller board. Step 4 Replace the TORX screws that hold the board to the hard drive. Be careful to not overtighten them. The drive should now be installed into the laptop, and tested.


Laptop Hard Drive Circuit Board Repair


Questions to ask Before attempting any form of self data recovery or hard drive repair

What is the problem? Does the hard drive spin? If so does it click? Does the armature kick out? Do the hard drives heads vibrate to initiate? Is there an odd smell to the drive? If it doesn't spin do you here a slight or faint ticking sound? Does the BIOS see the hard drive? Does the BIOS see the hard drive as the correct model? Are there funny characters showing on boot? Does the operating system blue screen?

Important things you should be aware of before you do anything to a suspected failed hard drive Static discharge will kill a hard drive when handling... especially the internal components Dust will destroy your data... DO NOT OPEN! In my experience I see so many hard drives destroyed by helpful neighbors when the problem was not situated internal of the hard drive assembly. Just because it clicks doesn't always represent an internal failure. Swapping the electronics runs the risk of further damage, especially if the revision number of the PCB is different. You will have a greater success of data recovery with less risk if the original electronics is repaired. The Printed Circuit Board controls many functions to operate the hard disk drive, There are 5 main features of a the electronics that can be unique to each drive that is likely to fail, the first being:

POWER INPUT The most problems we see here are mostly human era... forcing the power plug in the wrong way Unfortunately apart from a few notebook PCB's there is no protection fuse to prevent PCB Damage There is also risk of power surges making it through to the electronics as well FIRMWARE Firmware is unique to the PCB this controls calibration and track information so it is very rare to be able to interchange the same model PCB with one that has


another firmware revision... so what this means, if your board shorts out the firmware unique to the drive, you will be in trouble. Of course a good main stream data recovery company will be able to replace this and manually reprogram this chip SPINDLE IC This controls the speed and rotation of the spindle rotating the platters internal to the hard drive assembly or HDA These intend to get very hot at times and can often short out The most famous of models to this was the good old quantum LCT, particularly the TDA5247HT Chip; this would go up in smoke and leave a pin hole or a very big mess on or over the IC

MICRO CONTROLLER These rarely fail unless there has been an extreme hit by power such as a lightning strike that may cause voltage through the IDE Cable. If this does fail you would normally find visible damage TRACKS Internal track are the thin Copper ribbons that run through the board that connect each component these can be easily damaged bay any of the above case scenarios, but one of the most common that I have seen is Corrosion Below is a great Example of how quickly chemicals in the air from industrial workshops or even sulfa in the air from volcanic regions can cause havoc... but for most residential computer hard drives its condensation that damages a PCB In this example this PCB was only 6 months old


Yes there's a high chance... YOU WILL SEE SMOKE!!!!!! If you have an exact match to the PCB you want to attempt swapping, the risk will be minimal but what allot of people dont realize, is that code can change overtime even with exact matching parts. What this means is... if you were to purchase two NEW exact hard drives at the same time from the same batch and then swapped there PCB's to each other, you would most likely be successful! Try that same scenario 6 months after heavy use... and results will could be very different There's a high chance that each PCB has made themselves unique to each drive! How can this be? Its called SMART Technology where the hard drive is designed to reconfigure itself during operation to maximizing performance and protecting data. If a sector is read slow but functional the drive will remap this sector as bad and move this sector creating changes to track and sector information in firmware Now this new reconfigured information is unique to the drive, and can cause this PCB to be incompatible with any other drive of matching numbers. As a data recovery engineer it is always best to repair the Original electronics of a failed hard disk drive That way you get maximum results with very little risk, Most high end data recovery companies have the expertise to replace many, if not all components on the PCB.. but not only physically but replacement, but this may also involve new components and reprogramming.


Hard Drive Head & Platter Swap Replacement

Clicking or Grinding Sounding hard drives may indicate an internal read write head Failure What should i Know before breaking the seals and attempting to replace the read write heads of a hard disk drive

Static Electricity Parts Clean Room Steady Hands Initiation Removing Platters Balancing

Static Electricity This could be the difference between a successful recovery and a waste of time and money when the matching hard drive parts finally arrive Be static aware as the internal components of a hard drive are far more sensitive to static electricity than the common PCB Parts Please see the hard drive parts section of this site for further information


Clean Room A Clean room is more precautionary than critical but carries the reassurance of less or no dust particle platter contamination Steady Hands You cant beat experience, doing something so delicate for the first time has so much risk associated with it rather than giving the task to a person who has done the procedure a 1000 times Correct Drive Diagnostics Read write heads internal of the hard drive assembly will click or sometimes behave erratically without being faulty or damaged. Common faults that can produce this outcome can be a faulty PCB or system area corruption So it is always important to cover all other aspects of fault diagnostics prior to ordering parts or opening the hard drive cover to remove the heads Head Swap Procedure Points to NOTE Upon diagnosing that the read write heads have indeed failed Make sure you are properly grounded and protected from any static risk Have a clean environment and a can of compressed air handy for blowing off any visible contaminants Warning Heads stick to the platter of a hard drive and each other! These need to be separated from the platter prior to removal and remain separated until transferred to the faulty hard drive you are trying to recover Platter Cleaning - Can you clean a platter of a hard drive? from accidental fingerprints? The answer is yes you can Its as simple as using a Q-Tip or a micro fiber cloth dry with no chemicals .. just gently rub the surface until the print is gone Initiation This is a process of calibration that occurs with a successful head swap has been preformed


Hard drive bad sector repair

Bad sectors on hard drive in most cases can still be read What is a bad sector? Bad sectors range from physical damage of the platter to faulty or failing read write heads... to a sector failing the ECC error checking control checksum Bad sectors on a hard drive what does this really mean Bad sectors are cause by several problems, One being the integrity of the platter surface is failing Corruption by the track data Failing of a Read Write Head System Area Damage such as bad translation of the recorded medium Location of bad sectors on a hard drive is very important as well, the master file table or MFT is normally located around LBA Logical Block Address 6,300,000 of course you can find exactly where this starts using tools like winhex The Master File Table contains files names and physical location of all the data A good example would to have imaged a hard drive but you had thousands of bad sectors in this area would mean you would have raw data with no access to file names or location, such programs as raw recovery or fast file finders are good to use in these situations In all instances it can be difficult to establish which one of these problems is associated with your particular failure As all of the above will behave the same way when it comes to trying to read data or even image a drive If one of the four heads in your hard drive fail's and that head is not required for drive initiation for normal operation, the operating system would associate this as a bad sector or multiple bad sectors when trying to read (Very Common) This is where diagnostics are needed to perform what i like to call Factual Prognoses At first most if not all silent drives... meaning no clear clicking and appear to be spinning normally would associate with bad sectors When it comes to data recovery several operations can give you clear understand of the fault at hand Checking of the Platter Surface Voltage Control of the Electronics Sector Reading with sector read analysis as in time it took to read a sector in milliseconds


to disabling the Error read control to enable a bad read of a sector or even multiple comparison reads of a sector to get maximum results Remember that drive with bad sectors are failing and will worsen with more use no matter the fault Its a good idea if data is important to call to back up and transfer data to a new hard drive

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 http://www.laptoprepairtrainingcollege.com 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........ 29

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 (THIS IS DEEMED UNRECOVERABLE)

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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