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To have a good resources of donor hard drive parts is very important to a successful data recovery business, to know how to have the right donor hard drive parts with necessary matching parameters is also very important to save your time and improve your efficiency to do successful data recovery.

A donor is a drive that is nearly identical to the drive that you are trying to recover. Just like a transplant of an organ in surgery, a donor hard drive must meet very specific criteria in order to work properly. For nearly every data recovery job that is done, there is a donor. They are quintessential to the repair and recovery process.

Every manufacturer has different processes when creating hard drives, and because of this every manufacturer has different ways of identifying drive characteristics and traits. There are very specific codes, numbers, letters, and other traits that must be matched. Below is a guide showing what to match for each manufacturer, and why that characteristic is relevant.

Maxtor hard drive donor

* Alphabetic Code (Yellow)
The 3rd letter that is highlighted is important for matching the head-stack.
* PCBA/Uplevel (Blue)
For matching PCB; always match the 3rd and 4th characters away from the END of the code.
* Mfg. Date (Red)
Not necessary, but good to get as close as you can (a drive made in a different year may use different materials/parts, even if the other numbers match)
* Country (Green)
It is always good to match country if possible no matter what. Different countries use different materials and parts. This is very important for matching heads.
* Interface/PCB code (Purple)
This code is relevant for matching the PCB; match the whole code.

Hitachi (post-IBM merge) hard drive donor

* Model (Blue)
Preferably match the model exactly for PCB or heads.
* Machine Level Code (Green)
MLC is the most important number for matching Hitachi drives; for any type of repair. If you do not match the MLC your chances of repair/recovery are not good.
* Mfg. Date (Red)
Not necessary, but good to get as close as you can (a drive made in a different year may use different materials/parts, even if the other numbers match)
* Country (Yellow)
Match this if you will be performing any work on the HAD (Head-swap, platter transplant)
* PCB code (Purple)
This is for matching PCB; only the first two lines are important. Match this for maximum compatibility, but if you can’t there is a small chance it may work.

Toshiba hard drive donor

* Model (Blue)
Not always necessary, but highly preferable. Always look for a drive with a matching model number first, if one is impossible to find, a similar model may work as long as the other important factors match
* Manufacture Code (Green)
This must match for PCB, Heads, or platter transplant
* Country (Yellow)
Important to match for Head-swap and platter transplant, for PCB not 100% necessary, but preferable.

Seagate hard drive donor

* Firmware (Blue)
This needs to match for PCB replacement, and head swaps/ platter transplants
* Date Code (Red)
Not very important, but if you can match this it will increase your chances of a perfect match.
* Site Code (Green)
This is not necessary, but preferable for either PCB replacement or Head swap.
* Country (Yellow)
Always match country for head swaps and platter transplants. Different countries use different materials and may assemble the drive differently.
* Configuration Number (Not Present)
Not present on this drive; always match the configuration number exactly; if it is present.

Western Digital hard drive donor

* Model Number (Blue)
Always match the full model number (including the characters after the hyphen. This is important for PCB and Head swaps/ platter transplants.
* DCM Code (Yellow)
Matching the whole DCM code would be the best, but if you cannot the 5th and 6th characters should be ok; this is for head swaps and platter transplants.
Note: success has been made while just matching the 6th character .
* PCB Code (Red)
Matching the highlighted area is necessary for successful PCB replacement.

Samsung hard drive donor

* Model Number (Blue)
Not always required but highly preferable (for any work being done)
* Revision (Green)
Match the revision, primarily for PCB replacement. It is preferable if you can match it for head swap.
* Country (Red)
Always match country for head swap/ Platter transplant
* Alpha Numeric Code (Yellow)
Always match the 4th character in this code for head swap and platter transplant.
* Firmware Revision (Not Present)
Not present on the drive in pictures, but if present always match for PCB replacement.

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