Early 2009 one of my desktop HDD (Western Digital 1200 series) stopped working after being used for at least 5 years. In most cases you will hear a clicking noise when the disc is about to die. Mine however didn’t make such noise. It actually started to smoke and made a small *poof* sound before it killed my computer (it probably triggered the surge protector).
I turned off the computer and removed the HDD from the casing. At first I didn’t noticed anything suspicious, although you could clearly smell that something was burned. I decided to take off the circuit board (PCB). After removing the PCB and its protective layer, I noticed that one of the controller chips got fried.
Unfortunately Western Digital doesn’t provide support for PCB replacement. They just forward you to a disk recovery company which usually charges you a lot of money. There is no way to get a replacement PCB from them.
However, not all is lost. A friend of mine recommend to check out this website: http://hdd-parts.com . This company provides replacement PCBs for many HDD brands. While my particular HDD wasn’t listed on the website, I contacted them and they informed me that they had a replacement PCB in stock.
Now there is one catch, you can not just replace your broken PCB with any other (similar looking) PCB. It needs to match with your series (perhaps even build date) and you will need to transfer the firmware from the old one to the new one. Since I don’t have the tools to copy and program firmwares onto chips, I shipped my broken PCB to hhd-parts and had them copy the firmware over for me for a small fee.
In total it took about 2~2.5 weeks to send my broken PCB to them and receive a new one from them (international shipping from CA to NL). However it was totally worth it. After replacing the PCB, the drive worked perfectly again, at least I was able to do a full backup.
The total cost?
Only 75 usd.
$49.99(board) + $20(programming) + $5(shipping) = $74.99(USD)
It surely beats paying a recovery company a few thousands of dollars just to get your data back.