The Hard Drive Failure – Fixin’ it yo!

This story starts off in the near past.  A friend of mine had a computer that… died!!!!!!  I hate it when this happens.  I’m the “computer guy” or so I’ve been told.  Not that I sit here and act all high and mighty about it because I really don’t think I’m anything special (I mean that!).  But he asked me to take a look at it.  I get real busy with things sometimes.  I put way too much on myself to do at once.  So in a hasty manner, I took a quick look over it and figured it was the power supply that died.  We ordered a new one and life was ready to be happy again.  Nope.

I installed the new power supply days later.  The computer powered up, to an extent.  What I didn’t realize was that there were a lot more fried components in this computer then the power supply.  After numerous testing and re-testing, I came to the conclusion that the motherboard was dead.  After a lot of discussion, he decided he just wanted his data off the hard drive and then he’d figure it out from there.  I took the hard drive home to backup the data onto my computer.  Nope.

The hard drive was dead!

There were no sounds of boot-up on it at all.  No spinning, no noise, no bios detection, nothing!  I’ve tried a few things and considering other things fried, I figured this did too.  We took off the logic board and here is what was found:

Yes, that my friends is a completely fried board.  But he really wanted his data.  So, me being the curious idiot, decided to go on this quest to get this damn data.

After researching for a while I came to the conclusion that this could be an easy fix.  All I had to do was buy another logic board of that model and replace it.  The problem would be solved – All would be happy again.  Nope.

You see, hard drives are a funny thing.  You simply can’t go and buy another logic board unless it is the EXACT same thing.  Sure, it could be the same model, but that doesn’t mean it will work.  Why?  Because companies are always changing their boards.  They constantly change things such as the bios chip.  You need everything to match if you want to easily swap logic boards.  If we’re discussing Western Digital hard drives (which this was) then here is what you need to match:

–          The Model Number

–          The DCM Number

–          The Revision Number

–          And oh hell, just match every single thing to the exact!

The problem was that I couldn’t find one that matched everything exactly.  And then I learned about a trick.  A difficult trick, but it gave me some hope.  If you have the ability, and it isn’t easy, you can get a logic board similar to the drive and swap the bios chips.  Apparently, the bios chips rarely ever fry.

(The Bios Chip)

I mean it when I say that this isn’t easy.  These chips are pretty small and will take some skill.  My curiosity drove me to do this.  A sane person would and should just forget about it.  Oh no, not me, I have to be this idiotic tech guy that has this stupid curiosity that drives me to hell and back. 😛  Then again, there is probably much easier ways to do these things.  I just tend to make it harder on myself.  I decided to order a similar (not exact) board and impatiently waited for it to get here.  About 3 weeks later I finally get it… from Malaysia.  Apparently U.S customs has this thing with leaving mail sit around for two weeks.

(The New Board)

I have never really done a chip swap like this before.  I figured I’d go do the soldering thing with it and see where it takes me.  I really made a mess!  But even so, I managed to unsolder the bios chip on the fresh board and the old board.  You also need to remember the orientation of these chips.  If you don’t set them the right way, it could cause major problems.

(A horrible looking bios chip removed – hey I didn’t kill it)

I started this pretty late at night.  It was time to solder the old bios chip onto the new board, but of course this didn’t go easy.  So, hours went by, a lot of cursing occurred, and I must have looped Boston’s greatest hits CD quite a few times.  It was 4AM.  I gave up for the night.  More like, “$%@@%@ Stupid $@% # @$%@ That !$!%! thing why do I @%%!%!# bother!  What a piece of @%!15% stupid !%!$! %!%!%!%#$%#!%$^%$&$%&@$@$%@$%$^$&%#&$%#&%&%^&%#^#@%$%#!% night night”

(Here was a really dumb attempt at soldering it together with wires.. yea that didn’t work)

I woke up pissed off, but I decided to try a few more times.  Now, if I had the proper tools I’m convinced this would have went much smoother.  I didn’t and therefore it was hell.  But that inner bastard in me just wouldn’t drop it.  I kept trying and finally – Finally! – I got the chip on and connected.  Sure it looks a bit messy but who cares, it’s on!

(yay chip)

I connected it as a slave drive to a computer.  The sounds of a hard drive spinning up acted like a choir from heaven.  The damn thing booted.  It did make clicking noises though which usually means the hard drive is on its way out.  I quickly backed up the data from the drive.  All the hours that felt hellish – totally worth it for me.

(Just for this moment!)

And that, my friends, is how you send yourself to the loony bin at an early age.

The moral of the story is – Take your time or try not to be “the computer guy”.  And to a certain brother who said, “no way you can do that” *Slap, what’s up prick?  =P


One Response to “The Hard Drive Failure – Fixin’ it yo!”

  1. For my defense I did not say it couldn’t be done I just said good mother freaking luck. It sounds like you went thru hell to do it to, something I’m glad I didn’t do. 🙂

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