Seagate 500GB 720.10

How easy is it to find a donor hard disk drive? Part 1.

In Blog, Hard Disk Drive Newsby Administrator

Hard disk drive donor parts for data recovery

A significant proportion of the hard disk recoveries we receive require donor parts. That is to complete the recovery of data from the failed hard disk drive it is necessary to source a compatible (matching) hard disk drive. There are three main types of failure that require a donor part:

  • Printed circuit board failure (PCB)
  • Firmware failure
  • Read/Write head failure

The set of requirements for each is different. Over the course of the next few posts I will discuss the difficulties and nuances in finding suitable matching donor parts for each type of failure.

To begin with, where do we look? Understandably many customers expect that we can go to our nearest computer hardware dealer and buy one off the shelf. Much like if your car broke down you would take it to the nearest garage, and they will probably have matching exhausts, tyres, brake pads in stock. Sadly this is not the case for us. All HDD donor parts we look for tend to have been manufactured at roughly the same time (often within the month) of your failed HDD.

Customers then wonder if we can order one directly from the manufacturer; that would be to order one direct from Seagate, Western Digital, Hitachi, Samsung, Fujitsu etc. If only! This would be ideal, sadly they do not provide spare parts for any storage devices they make.

Specialist HDD dealers are required

When finding donor parts it is necessary to match exactly many of the parameters listed on the front of the HDD and on the PCB. This can be challenging, and most regular sellers will not list such details. Realistically there are three options:

  • Internal supplies – hard disk drives we have in stock. In our case this numbers several hundred disks, Wonderful as there is no direct cost to us. The downside is we are currently storing approximately 1500Kg of hard disk drives on the premises. They take up a lot of space too.
  • Specialist HDD suppliers to the data recovery industry – they list the important details of each drive. The downside is the cost. The price of a disk from a dealer is often two or three times the cost of a new disk.
  • eBay –  wonderful if you have the time to go through hundreds of listings and squint at out of focus pictures of hard disk drives. It is usually necessary to contact sellers to confirm the details of the drive they are selling. Often they are unresponsive or even bemused at such requests and do not always provide reliable information. On the positive side, the prices tend to be lowest.

In following posts, the requirements for donor spares will be discussed. Hopefully, this will illuminate those with an interest on how challenging it can be to find the necessary parts to successfully recover data.