Pending Extreme physical measures to recover nearly impossibly corrupt drives.

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New member
Apr 10, 2024
I've used Spinrite to recover data and files from drives that are so corrupt, most all the files had errors, and if left to try to fix most of them, We'd ne on version 8.0 of Spinrite.

Here are some tricks I've used to fix portions of drives, enough to get the files I wanted at least. In one case, I'd use it long enough to boot, do what I needed, before it would crash again.:

These are all for magnetic drives, so YMMV:

--- Change the POSITION ---
I've occasionally had luck my running the drive upside down, or at 90 degrees. This is on laptop drives, so you'd think gravity wouldn't matter, but sometimes this works. As I remember, I think I used this to get a complete image backup.

--- Change the TEMPERATURE ---
I had one drive, I'd put in the freezer for a while, then protect it after hooking it up, so it wouldn't be covered with condensation. I'd get maybe 10-15 minutes of use before it "froze" the system.

--- Bump, or find a connection that works when you press on it in a specific place in a specific way.
This is usually not going to work. But hey, better than nothing sometimes. I had a device with an intermittent LED, and if I squeezed it, I could read the LED's color. Decades ago, with an old ST-506 20 MB drive, I opened it up, added a bit of pressure on the heads, and got it to read long enough to get some files. Clean rooms aren't always required I guess!! Hey, it beats having to "align the heads" on 40 or 80 track floppies, using different hair densities to use as shims.

Thanks -- This all really occurred.
-- Alan Welsh -- Columbia Data Products --
-- I just bought a "new" 6.0, awaiting 6.1 and beyond! -- Thanks Steve for everything...
What about "Change the HEADS" using a compatible donor drive?

I was about to write, "now that's a funny joke!" But, no.... You aren't kidding?? I can't imagine how that works. Generally, the positioning servos were using tracks that were preformatted before it was made. Later though, I think it would dynamically find the tracks on the fly... But that was over 25 years ago.
So, please explain a bit how it works today. I have no clue.. Doesn't sound like a DIY at all. Enlighten us!

About the most disassembly I used to do, was to pull the magnets out of 5" full height HDs. Even that value has gone away. Today, if I want big magnets, you can't do much better than magnetrons from your microwave. There's at least 2-3 donut shaped magnets that are easy to get off, and they are as big as a Krispy Creme. I replace two magnetrons, so I've got magnets that are so strong, I have to store them in a special box to keep them about 5" isolated from anything. The HD mags were useful. The other monsters are too big for most anything, except "Fishing with a Magnet". (Look it up--It IS a 'thing' folks do.)

(FYI Caution about microwave ovens -- Don't even think about working around an UNPLUGGED microwave. It can and does KILL a lot of people. That Cap is supposed to bleed off automatically. But if it doesn't, it WILL deliver over 5,000 volts at over 5 AMPS = 25,000 Watts to your body. Even trying to "bleed" that 5,000 V cap requires a special resistor network or it will arc over. -- OTOH, you can buy most magnetrons, which are "all the same", with different configs, for about $35 vs $150-$200 from Amazon.)