Any Bold Spirits Out There?

Recently some smoke escaped from my LINUX HDD. And as usual, I can't get the smoke back in:(.
I have located another HDD of the same make and model with the same firmware version.
Does anyone know if a control PCB transplant will work or is there more to this than meets the eye?
By control PCB, I mean the little PCB that lives on the HDD. Maybe 'driver' or 'interface' Pcb would be a better term. either way, I wouldn't mind 'boldly going where no calvin has gone before.........If I have a chance of success.
Anybody been there done that?


Sr Mod/Webmaster
Staff member
Senior Moderator
I've heard of this being done a few times, and maybe once successfully. I've usually relied on Raid with redundant backups to make sure I don't have to experience the joy you are considering at this very moment.
I am guessing if there was literal smoke-it came from a capacitor on the board (PCB) on the external of the HDD. If it is the same make/model/ AND series-it should work just fine-there may be firmware difference-but you won't know till you try! :D

I would do it-but then again I have down worse things in life to electronics. :p

The platters shouldn't be affected as long as there wasn't any major transfer of current into the control arm aperture and any micro controllers that may be sealed internally of the HDD. I would try the known good try to see if the PC recognizes it first before swapping the board-let the PC recognize the firmware on the HDD should it be different.

The only other way to recover data from platters is to send it somewhere that has a platter reader-might charge you a pretty penny since around here in the USA only the gubment and major IT companies have them.


(MuaHA HA HA!)
Ok, thanks for the encouragement. I'll give it a go...the worst that can happen is that I'll have 2 HDDs cooked and well done.


Sr Mod/Webmaster
Staff member
Senior Moderator
Let me know how it works out for you. If you do it, I'd suggest immediately moving the data to a new hard drive just in case the PCB exhibits problems later after extended use.
Well not much so far....
1. I needed to acquire a T8 torx bit....that much is done.
2. Some other more pressing chores have happened.
3. some unwanted Asthma has decided to drop in for a visit.
I am hoping to get at it in the next day or two though.
Ok, so that is one more chore out of the way (y)
The short story is It didn't work.
The long story is:
I'm calling the original Hdd, Hdd A (the one that died) and the donor Hdd, Hdd B. Both are 500 Gig capacity.
The first thing I noticed was that the physical arrangement of the motor terminals and the tacho feedback terminals were different, though by the time the ribbon cable reached the pcb, all was in order. (compare images.)
The next thing I found was that the attachment of the ribbon to the pcb has a small black plastic locking piece that only needs loosening, not removing, to release the cable from the pcb.
I took the pcb from Hdd B and fitted it to Hdd A, then connected it to the computer and attempted to boot up.
It would not boot, in fact there were a lot of never before seen messages displayed, finally telling me to insert a bootable disk and press enter.
I then tried to load LINUX, but the installation program reported that the Hdd had zero bytes capacity.
So I concluded that Hdd A might find some future use as a door stopper of maybe a light boat anchor.

Next I replaced original pcb back onto Hdd B and connected it to computer. When I tried to boot up, (it had a working windoze os installed), I was presented with another screen full of exotic messages the same as the earlier attempt with Hdd A, however when I set about installing LINUX, all went well.

My conclusion is that the crash of Hdd A was in deeper towards the platters, or maybe the motor. (I couldn't see the point in testing the motor) Even if an Hdd crash is caused by a pcb failure, data recovery by means of a pcb swap from another compatible donor hdd is just not going to happen. I know that the Linux installation would have offered to install alongside the windoze installation if it could have found it.
So there was no way data was going to be recovered by this method.
I have included a few images to try to give some graphical meaning to what I have written.
Ahhh well see next post or two. I'm going to have to scale them down a byte or 2
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Hdd A showing Motor and Tacho terninals.JPG
Hdd A showing motor and tacho feed back arrangement.

Hdd B showing Motor and Tacho terminals.JPG
Hdd B showing motor and tacho feedback arrangement.
Pcb showing black clamp with ribbon removed.JPG
pcb showing black cable clamp loosened.
Hdd A - pcb removed.JPG
Graphic showing hidden data interface.
I probably should add a warning to anyone contemplating playing around like I have.
Use an earthed ESD mat and writst strap when working on PCBs especially if you are in a dry climate. (low humidity) if you zap your PCB don''t blame me :whistle: