It’s usually quite obvious when a hard drive has suffered an electrical fault – look closely and the controller board on the back on the hard drive – can you see any evidence of burnt or scorched components?? Often there’s a giveaway burnt smell too, but sometimes there is no physical evidence at all.
In nearly all cases, drives will electronic problems will no longer spin when powered up. They will also be completely silent and not detected by the computer. If you’re drive makes a noise when you attach power to it then it most likely has a mechanical problem.
What’s the Cause of Hard Disk Electrical Faults?
If you have an electrically failed internal hard disk that’s been in a desktop machine or a server it’s probably a good idea to check the computer’s power supply unit (PSU). Now I’m not talking about the cable that plugs into the computer, I’m talking about the unit that is housed inside the computer’s casing. Once you take the side off your desktop computer, mainboard designs are such that you’ll nearly always find the PSU in one of the corners inside the case. It’ll most probably have a large fan and lots of electrical cables attached that connect to other parts of the computer. Check the seating of the cables – you may well find a loose connection. If the problem persists and you have another component fail at a later date, it’s probably time to replace the whole PSU.
External Hard Drives
The second biggest cause of failure in external hard disks is using them with the wrong power supply. It’s an easy mistake to make as they all look the same, but be careful – plugging in the wrong power cable often means you are plugging in a much stronger voltage that will blow the controller board on the hard disk inside the case as soon as it’s connected. Fortunately it’s nearly always possible to recover the data successfully.
In the majority of cases an electronic hard drive problem is easily sorted provided whoever your choose to look at the problem for you knows what they are doing. There are occasions though where a power surge will not only destroy the controller board but will also blow the heads and other components on the hard drive. These failures are particularly nasty and are referred to as electro-mechanical failures, as recovering the data will require both electronic and mechanical work to be completed.
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