DeskStar HDDs = DeathStars?

IBM DeskStar hard drives, mostly DTLA and AVER families, are widely known as DeathStars with its reportedly high failure rates.

It is believed their problems were mainly connected with glass platters – new technology introduced by Hitachi in these hard drives. After some time magnetic layer started to fall off the platters creating dust inside the HDA(Head Disk Assembly). This led to a massive number of bad sectors, eventually killing the heads making all data inaccessible. If you happen to hear that unmistakable repeating scratching noise from your hard drive, then this is exactly your case. If you attempt to boot up from such drive or read any data from it you would get “Primary Master Hard Disk Fail”, “No operating system found”, “USB Device malfunctioned” error, “S.M.A.R.T. Capable But Command Failed” or some other hard drive error on boot. It’s critical at this point to stop reading from such drive and bring it for diagnostics to the professional data recovery lab. Any further attempts to read from these areas would shorten the drive’s life and may result in further unrecoverable data loss.

Burnt components on the cirquit board(PCB)

One of the most common problems for all Hitachi hard drives is burnt components on the cirquit board(PCB).

Hard drives are very vulnerable to power surges and overeating and bad power supply unit combined with power streak is usually enough to burn spindle driver chip on the hard drive electronics. Should this occur the computer would reboot or turn off completely, you would normally notice acrid smoke and smell coming from your PC and upon power on the drive would not spin up at all. If this is your case, it’s suggested to swap the PCB from another donor drive.

Hard disk clicking or knocking

Hitachi Hard disk clicking or knocking is another common problem. This is usualy a sign of damaged heads. For such cases, the drive needs head assembly swapped from a matching donor. Before doing any clean room work, it is very important to perform accurate diagnostics and eliminate a chance of possible firmware corruption that sometimes can also cause clicking.

Heads sticktion to the platter surface

For Hitachi laptop drives(HTS models), Heads sticktion to the platter surface is one common problem too. Heads are normally parked on the parking ramp outside of the platters, but sometimes after a fall or abnormal termination they fail to return to their regular parking position and are left on the surface sticking to the ideally smooth surface. It is absolutely impossible to correctly release them without proper tools and experience. Don’t attempt to open the drive by yourself – you could easily scratch the media and this will make all your data unrecoverable.