Drive doesn’t spin

This is a common problem for us to take on, and something we’ve recovered from thousands of times. It’s usually caused by either a bad PCB or because the read/write heads have crashed into the platter surface or parking ramp and become stuck and/or damaged. Sometimes it can be caused by ROM corruption, a locked motor, or pre-amp damage.

The Symptoms:
You listen for the normal spin-up sounds your hard drive makes, but don’t hear anything or you just hear a faint ticking sound. You can tell that the drive is not spinning either by sound or by carefully feeling for normal vibration if the drive is external. Naturally, the drive isn’t detected in these situations, at least not in a way that you can see and access your data.

Today’s hard drives are much quieter than they were 10 or 15 years ago, so this can be harder to diagnose. We don’t recommend continued consumer-level attempts toward recovery, or even specific diagnosing, but if you’re going to anyway…

If the drive is an external hard drive and you slowly and CAREFULLY hold your ear to the drive and power on the drive. If the drive makes absolutely no noise the problem is usually an electronic or circuit board problem, or sometimes a stuck motor. If the drive makes a faint ticking noise but doesn’t spin up at all, the heads are usually crashed into the platters or stuck in the drive’s parking ramp. This is usually a cleanroom-level case, but since we’re a cleanroom-level lab, there are different levels of cleanroom work, and if we’re lucky, the case may still be s ‘mid-level’ type of recovery vs worst-case-scenario. We’ll need to open the drive in the cleanroom environment and make first efforts to discover the extent of the problem.

If you can hear the drive spin up, click a few times (usually 1 to 12 times) and then it spins down, it usually means either heads damage or platter damage or both, and is usually a difficult problem to recover from, yet still we recover a majority of even these cases, as long as the platters haven’t been damaged too severely by the head-stack crash.

The Good News:
IT Data Recovery can usually still recover data from these symptoms. If the problem is a PCB issue, the recovery is usually perfect. If it’s a heads or platter contact issue, there is often some damage, but we still usually recover a vast majority of the important data, unless the platter damage is severe.

The Solution:
There are certainly exceptions to all of these symptoms’ norms, and the safest and only real way to find out how bad the drive actually is, would be to bring the drive into IT Data Recovery for professional evaluation. You have nothing to lose since our evaluations are free as long as you’re ready to commit to the best-case price for the type and size of drive in question.


Call 512-444-3282 to discuss your hard drive problem with a live technician and discuss options with your data recovery.

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