A word of warning on hard disk recovery by swapping logic boards

I've noticed that over in the TalkBack section of Zack Whittaker's post on his hard drive going belly up that a few readers have suggested a possible fix involving swapping the logic board of the dead drive with one from a working drive.

I've noticed that over in the TalkBack section of Zack Whittaker's post on his hard drive going belly up that a few readers have suggested a possible fix involving swapping the logic board of the dead drive with one from a working drive.

I feel that a word of warning is in order here.

A logic board swap can work. I've done it before on numerous disks. You need to have an identical drive to act as a donor drive though, because a logic board that just looks right won't work. It has to be exact, down to the model and usually revision.

BUT ...

It doesn't always work, and increasingly it's getting harder and harder to pull the trick off because drive makers are storing specific drive parameters relating to the specific drive on the firmware of the logic board. This makes it hard, if not impossible to find a compatible logic board. To make matters worse, because the firmware contains drive disk parameters, you can damage the dead disk worse, making recover even more difficult (and expensive).

So, bottom line is that it might work, but there's a good chance that it might not too ... as a last ditch, final throw of the dice, no looking back, I might try it, but I wouldn't hold my breath.

Thing's I'd try before swapping the logic board:

  • Fitting the drive into a USB caddy.
  • gently tap the drive at spin up (as long as it's not making, or has made, a grinding noise ...)
  • Popping it into a sealed plastic bag and freezing it for a few hours. Alternatively, blast the logic board with canned air.

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