HDD slider & head detached from head assembly

Detached slider/head stuck on the platter

In Blog, Hard Disk Drive Recovery Case Study by Administrator

‘Sticktion’ – the head-assembly is stuck on the platter surface.

A common fault in the failed HDDs that CDR receives. The customer reports that the HDD is making a buzzing or a beeping noise. It is usually possible to diagnose the HDD during a phone conversation. The buzzing or beeping noise is being emitted as the spindle motor has seized. In 2.5″ HDDs, this is usually because the head-assembly has become stuck on the platter surface which prevents the motor from turning. In 3.5″ HDDs failure of the motor bearing itself can occur. For the purposes of pricing, this is treated as a ‘mechanical failure’ in CDR’s price list.

Below is an image of an HDD that CDR was working on during April 2021. It is a Seagate ST2000LM007 ‘Rosewood’ HDD. These HDDs are notorious in the data recovery industry for a high failure rate and for being challenging to work on. The image below shows one of the reasons why these HDDs can be challenging. The HDD had failed as a result of ‘sticktion’. The image shows the HDD with the head-assembly, off-ramp and top magnet removed. On the top platter surface, it is possible to view the read-write head/slider. This has detached from the head-assembly. This is much more common in ‘Rosewood’ Seagate HDDs than other models of HDDs. Removal of the slider is challenging as it is necessary to perform this without causing damage to the platter surface. It is particularly challenging if the detached slider is on a lower surface of a platter.

HDD slider & head detached from head assembly

Replacement of the head assembly

It is necessary to ensure that all detached sliders have been removed from the platter, or located within the hard disks assembly. Only once all of the sliders have been accounted for can replacement of the head-assembly take place. If sliders remain on the platter, and the head-assembly is replaced, and then powered on, then it is very likely that physical damage shall be caused to the platter surface.

Please do not follow DIY guides on YouTube

Whilst YouTube might have helpful videos on how to erect new shelves or plumb in a washing machine, the videos that DIY-ers post regarding hard disk drive data recovery are usually irresponsible. CDR receives a considerable number of HDDs that have been previously opened. On many occasions, the person who has opened the HDD has made a recovery of data impossible by mishandling the HDD.