TechZilla News - My USB drive has fallen and it can't get up!

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On several occasions over the years, clients have reported they had just moved and when they set up thier computer at the new house it no longer could boot up.

And as a rescue measure, I would remove the hard drive from the computer and place it face-down on the kitchen linoleum. Then spin the drive as fast as my hand could make it spin, several times in both directions. Honestly I had a fairly high success rate of getting the drive to work again. My assessment of this solution was based on a couple of things.

The user or the mover likely didn't properly pack or transport the computer and some sort of shock to the hard drive had occured. Bouncing around in a car or back of a truck is a surefire drive killer. Since it was working before and it wasn't plugged into electricity during the transport of the system, the drive electronics should be ok. Also since the drive wasn't spinning during transport, the only part that can move is the read/write heads.

My guess also is that the heads can move beyond the normal read/wite position and get stuck when the drive is subjected to certain levels of shock. Spinning the drive on the floor is an attempt to use centrifical force to dislodge the heads. Since the platters are not moving, this should be relatively safe for your data whether it works or not. This again is because the platters are not spinning.

Other technicians have told me that they put the drive in the freezer for ahwile and use the spin trick but I never tried that mostly because I had a fairly good revival rate anyway.

If this doesn't work, most likely your data is still fine unless the platters were damaged. A lot of it could be recovered in a Drive Recovery Class A Clean Room. Even if you can't afford it now...don't throw the drive away in case someday you can afford it.

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5 responses
Here I was thinking you were going to say how to make a USB Flash drive work after it dies, but no, we're talking about good old Winchester drives. ;)
I have a memory stick I need to test. Was working the other day and never removed it from my hub. Wasn't being listed in the computer startup screen with the hard drives and the power light was on. I took it out today and reinserted it and there is no power light on it now.
Ouch. Not sure who can recover that. Hopefully there wasn't any unrecoverable data on it.
No data, I had just reformatted it, My low-tech hub was the problem. XP stopped recononizing it was a generic hub. My camera wouldn't work either as it turned out. I had just removed the U3 software off the thing so I could actually get some use out of it without the BS.
That U3 Software is a !#!@$ virus! Given that I rarely use my USB sticks in PCs, I'd just assume NOT have that U3 crap on my system.I had a problem with a problematic USB hub on my Mac. If it was connected at boot time, my iSight camera wouldn't work.