HDD heads failed detached

Detached read-write heads

In Blog, Hard Disk Drive Recovery Case Study, Recovery of the day by Administrator

28/6/2017 – HDD read/write heads detached

A Western Digital My Passport 500GB was received for recovery. The drive was spinning, but an audible clicking and scratching sound could be heard. The HDD had sustained a physical shock, which had caused failure.

The HDD has a total of three read-write heads assigned to four platter surfaces. Numbered 0, 2 and 3. When the head-assembly was removed it became apparent that read-write head 2 had become detached from the head assembly and was missing.

If a read-write head is missing then it is likely it became stuck on the platter surface at the point of failure. This is problematic, as the metal head assembly is now exposed, and can potentially make contact with the platter surface and cause physical damage to the platter.

HDD heads failed detached

Head #2 has become detached from the head assembly. Head #0 is present and shows no visible physical defects.

Hard disk drive details:

Manufacturer: Western Digital

Model: WD5000BMVW-11AMCS4

Printed Circuit Board: 2060-771814-001 REV P1


On attempting the work it became apparent that there were small but significant, amounts of silver coloured fragments displaced inside the HDD case. These fragments are parts of the platter surface. The donor parts provided some functionality to begin with. The drive would calibrate, but no data was readable. After numerous calibration attempts the donor parts gradually degraded until they were completely unresponsive and have failed.

In this case, there is physical damage to the platter surface, known as a ‘head-crash’. It is not possible to recover data in these circumstances.

No-recovery, No-fee

No charges were made to the customer for the work completed, or the donor parts which were used and destroyed during the recovery attempt.

Pictured above, shows the use of metal head-combs as supplied by HDDSurgery, to allow for safe removal and replacement of the head-assembly.