Kim Barloso

HDD Repair with your own hands. How to repair HDD if the drive is not detected


Contents :

  1. Checking HDD status through SMART
  2. HDD not detected by Windows
  3. Hard drive is clicking (noises, strange sounds)
  4. ROM failure or service data removed
  5. Controller defective: Can it be repaired?
  6. Mechanical breakages
  7. Life extension HDD
  8. Question - Answer

In this article we will introduce the types of HDD breakages and defects and provide tips on what to do in different situations. Looking ahead, we would like to say that some mistakes can be fixed by yourself. In other cases, you need the help of qualified professionals or an HDD replacement.

Note. Repair of deleted /files and repair are two different concepts. Repair HDD does not involve returning data to the storage device. Data recovery is not always possible due to hard drive failure, partial or complete damage of the hard drive surface.

Checking the condition of the hard drive using SMART

The SMART self-diagnostic system is built into modern hard drives. It helps diagnose and predict hard disk drive failure - thus preventing data loss in a timely manner. With SMART, you may check the wear percentage of the HDD as well as check the current parameters, device performance.

Install SMART checking software (for example, Hitachi Drive Fitness Test, CrystalDiskInfo, or HDD Health, see the complete list).

  • Run the software and wait while the HDD's characteristics are being read.
  • Check the contents by checking the current and critical values. If an error is detected, use the table to check what the error means.
  • Additional benefit of SMART diagnostics is that you may quickly and quite accurately determine the condition of your hard disk, either newly purchased or previously used. But be aware that SMART may be wrong even if statistically everything is OK.

    If the errors are fatal, make a backup of the important data and replace the HDD. Spending money is not a pleasant procedure but it is better to do it in time instead of crashing the hard disk and all that implies.

    Hard Disk Read Error Recovery

    When hard disk has errors, its performance is degraded. Typical symptoms are:

    1. Hard disc displays strange noises (e.g. loud head rustling, creaks, clicks)
    2. The operating system performance is significantly reduced
    3. Lags and freezes when opening /files on the hard disc
    4. Suddenly /files, folders are missing, HDD partitions are displayed as unallocated space (RAW).

    The simplest reading errors are fixed with the system utility chkdsk.

    Some bad blocks can be "fixed" by yourself and two excellent programs - HDD Regenerator and Victoria HDD.

    In addition an instruction to repair bad blocks: here it explains how to fix them with HDD Regenerator. Actually it does not fix bad blocks but moves them to another partition on the hard disk. That way other processes and programs will bypass those blocks.

    The situation becomes more complicated if the file table, partition table or other service information is damaged. In such case HDD contents need to be cloned to a "donor", i.e. serviceable hard disc drive of the same model. This can only be done in special laboratories.

    HD is not detected (does not mean HDD is broken)

    If the computer cannot "see" the HDD (connected via Sata or IDE interfaces) it is not necessarily related to the HDD destruction.

    First make sure the HDD is properly connected to the PC. How to do this:

    1. Switch off the PC and power off the power supply (there is an appropriate button on it).
    2. Gently remove the HDD from the system unit isolating it from the motherboard and power supply.
    3. Clean the hard disk from dust.
    4. Place HDD back in its original place checking SATA/IDE sleeves and power cable (going from motherboard and power supply to HDD respectively): no damages, no HDD fitting tightly into device socket.
    5. Burn on the PC.
    6. Go to the BIOS and check whether the HDD is indicated in the list of bootable devices.

    Hard-drive suspiciously clicks: what to do

    If the HDD starts up and clicks, it is usually caused by the wear of the hard disc heads. As the mechanics of any HDD failure, it cannot be repaired manually.

    On the other hand, if you hear the clicking when the HDD is still functioning (i.e. it reads and writes /files normally), it is advisable to take immediate action to be on the safe side.

    First of all, be sure to back up your valuable information to another HDD, usb stick or cloud storage.

    Ance the backup is done, investigate the SMART metrics using the applications we wrote about above. The self-testing procedure allows to determine the current state of the HDD and to identify the errors.

    Data recovery after ROM failure and corruption of service data

    HDD with damaged ROM has the following symptoms:

    • Indetectable in BIOS
    • Ready (clicking, knocking)
    • No operating system bootable.

    Removery of ROM and service data on HDD is carried out by the experts using dedicated equipment. Data recovery is not possible without assistance.

    Broken / damaged HDD controller

    Data recovery symptoms are typical for this type of HDD damage:

    • Rattling inside the HDD housing
    • hard drive is not reflected in the BIOS.

    Fixing the failure involves the complete replacement of the controller and, in some cases, the reprogramming / replacement of the HDD electronics. Otherwise the data may be read from the device as if nothing had happened. However you will not be able to recover the hard disk by yourself.

    If the data on the disc is particularly valuable then HDD repair at a specialized laboratory would cost several hundred dollars.

    Recover HDD repair if dropped (housing damaged)

    As with any HDD failure the following symptoms are typical:

    • the disc starts to make knocks and clicks
    • not detected through BIOS
    • can stop suddenly and cannot "boot" successfully.

    Fixing and repairing a damaged drive requires a complete disassembly of the failed unit and the replacement of its mechanical parts: heads, cylinders, disks and other elements.

    In this situation the most realistic solution is to replace the hard disk with a new one.

    How to extend the life of your HDD

    Mistreatment of the HDD results in an accelerated failure.

    Hard disk care includes:

    • Checking for bad sectors, bad blocks,
    • Defragmentation (see software overview),
    • Checking the SMART indicators,
    • Temperature monitoring.

    As every mechanical device, the hard disk requires careful handling: shock resulting from a fall can be fatal.

    Repair HDD: Frequently Asked Questions

    After updating to Windows 10 the external drive is no longer detected on the laptop and other devices including Windows 7 PC.

    Under the upgrade or clean OS installation you may have removed the partition using the Windows Installer. In any case, the partition could not just disappear.

    We suggest you check it using Windows utility Disk Management (diskmgmt.msc) or any partition manager, like Partition Magic. If you need to recover a deleted partition, please use the free TestDisk tool.

    Is there any difference between recovering an external and an internal HDD?

    Clearly not. The hardware is identical, the only difference is the storage form-factor, roughly speaking, the box the disc is packed in. An external drive is more easily exposed to physical damage and other risk factors. They are more portable and offer the user a convenient connection via eSata or other PC interface. So this guide how to recover the hard disk is useful for both "traditional" and external HDD owners.

    I am going to format HDD but it is not show up in Disk Management, HDD Low Level Format either.

    Try to partition the HDD again (Partition Magic is for help), preferably HDD Low Level Formatting, see here info on subject.

    There are many alternative utilities to format besides HDD Low Level Formatting. It is useful to check the functional state of the disk, check SMART indications and scan the disk using HDD Regenerator or Victoria HDD.

    Hard drive flickers. At some moments the operating system hangs and then crashes along with the disk.

    In rare cases the problem is related to power and sata/side socket contacts being disconnected from the motherboard. Therefore the first thing we suggest is to power off the PC and check the connection of the hard disk. Second - be sure to back up the data on the drive, as clicking is an unhealthy symptom, indicating that the HDD has problems and you can expect a crash at any time. The third - for diagnostic of disk condition use specialized programs - HDD Regenerator, Victoria HDD, etc.

    If the hard disk clicks and is not detected, the situation is more pitiable. In this case, the mechanics have already worn down and you cannot repair HDD, only replace HDD with a new one.

    How to increase the HDD speed? I use Windows 10.

    Windows 10 users complain about the slow disk subsystem. In practice, file copying is noticeably slower than in XP. Why does my hard drive slow down? One of the reasons is obvious and easy to remedy. The matter is that by default Windows has disabled maximum performance of the hard drive. Therefore immediatelly take action:

    1. Open the Device Manager (Win + Pause Break, "Device Manager" ).
    2. In the device list find your disk device and in the context menu click "Properties".
    3. Choose the "Policy" tab and activate the "Enable increased performance" option.
    4. Reboot the computer to accelerate the HDD.

    Reinstalling the system on an SSD, suddenly the other 4TB HDD is not detected. I had looked in Disk Management, it showed 3.7 TB capacity, but 3.7 TB were free. It turns out that the disk is empty, but there is 2 TB of information!

    Possibly the problem is related to a file system table failure, in such a case we could recommend using the TestDisk utility to recover the partition that is not detected by the system, but contains important information.

    I power off my notebook with the physical button, power it on again and a black screen displays the following message: non-system disk or disk error replace and strike any key when ready. After that the system did not see the hard disk.

    If the problem was BIOS related, the OS would not boot. Or at least a factory reset might have solved something.

    Try to look for the cause on the surface: Failure may have many causes (physical damage or wear is less likely). If you have a chance to test a similar harddrive on the same laptop do it.

    Do that.

    “Hello. My name is Kim. I discovered that technology, when used with a purpose, can be pretty amazing. To share the wonder of tech, I’ve written for blogs like and With over three years of freelance writing experience in the technology and entertainment niche, I can write a storm about a software app, a cool browser extension, a new mobile device and other geek-centric stuf... “

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    Kim Barloso