Catastrophic hard drive failure


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I was upgrading my motherboard / CPU today and when I turned everything back on, there were a bunch of drives missing. After troubleshooting I realized that one of my Norco 3x5 hard drive cages died and took all five hard drives with it.


None of them will even power on at all, lost 24 TB out of my 32 TB server. I am completely speechless, spent 20 years building up all the data on it......


Do you think there's anything I can do? None of them power up at all, even when I put them to external enclosure on a different PC. They were all killed at the same time I assume. I know that data recovery is crazy expensive and I assume with Unraid file system they would need to recover all or nothing?


One of the drives it the parity. If I boot up the server I should still be able to access data on the remaining drives?



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If it's "just" fried PCB can anyone recommend affordable service to try and repair? 


Also, how can I access the remaining drives to see what's left? I cannot start the array right now because too many drives are missing but I don't want to rebuild parity or anything like that in case of successful drive recovery.



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You need to specific advice before doing anything with the drives, they may still be salvageable, but one or two wrong decisions could quickly change that.


Without second guessing the cause too much, the drive bays are usually simple affairs which just have PCB traces for SATA and power so little to fail catastrophically. If it's the white molex type of power connector, is it possible that a molex was reversed so the 5V and 12V supply on the edges of the plug were inverted? I had it happen to me once when I used an incorrectly wired molex cable. It was a good few years ago and it was a 500GB drive. It's still in the cupboard next to me so I grabbed to photo below from it and it's twin.  


I assume you tested the drives for spin up on an independent cable?


In my case the fusible component (red asterisk) had gone dead short protecting the drive. I removed it and the drive then spun up and still works fine though no longer has protection. I since use it for testing etc. however I've never relied on it again. My data was ok. 


It's likely the drives have some sort of polarity, over voltage or similar protection so may be salvageable with some minor surgery unless the PCB is a smoking ruin. If you check for a dead short between the 5V and GND and 12V and GND with a multimeter (sata to molex connector makes this simple) you'd be able to check for this type of failure and won't do any additional damage. It's also possible that a fusible link went open circuit, again to protect the drive. 


On more modern drives, the components are usually hidden under the PCB so you have to remove a few PCB screws to get access.


Good luck.







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Thanks for all the replies. Yeah I tested all 5 by connecting them to external USB hard drive enclosure and they make no sound at all when powered on.


Decto, your advice gives me some hope however as you noted they all have the PCB board covering the stuff I see on the screenshot, and I am definitely not brave enough to open it up and mess with it :( 


I reached out to and spoke to them on the phone and they said it would be $7500 to try and recover the data ...ugh


I also reached out to but they said I need to go through ? 



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Looking at their pricing is "It varies – but in general, hard drive recovery costs $300-$1000 for more minor fixes and $1100-$1900 for more major incidents such as disk crashes or water damage."


I read some posts here about using donordrives and fixing several hard drives for just few hundred dollars total. Is there any other similar affordable service any one recommend? 

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They are a mix, WD, Seagate, HGST.


I went to see a local guy who tested the drives and it looks like it mostly likely is a bad PCB board. He set me up with a repair order at which I guess is the same as donordrives. Sounds like they might be able to replace the board for under $100 per drive, I shipped them back today so we'll find out next week.


If they are able to repair the drives by replacing the PCB board, I still will most likely buy new drives, preclear and add them to my unraid with new parity rebuild. Then I will add the old drives one a time a copy everything off them. How can I access them through something like Krusader without being part of the array? Thanks!

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  • 1 month later...



Just wanted to post that I shipped my five drives to


I had 4 failed data drives and 1 parity. They were able to fix 3 data drives and parity by replacing PCB. It cost $60 per drive plus $15 shipping. I was able to rebuild the missing drive by using parity once I installed them back in Unraid. I am now in the process of replacing all repaired drives one by one, since I don't feel comfortable keeping them.  Two of them were under WD warranty and I was surprised that they shipped a brand new replacement (although with just few months' warranty). I was expecting a refurb.


All in all, I went from total loss of 17TB to a full, almost miraculous recovery with no data lost. Pheeew!

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you probably spent more in toilet paper from the bricks you must have been... well, you know. :D


Now get a backup copy of that done already. 17 TB is s drop in the bucket these days.


out of curiosity, what was the damage to the 5th drive that a PCB swap couldn't fix.

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Yeah, I need to figure out a better backup solution. Online was not an option previously but with Comcast suspending data caps for next 60 days perhaps I can try that :)


They did not specify what was wrong, they just said that something was damaged internally. They said they could probably still recover the data but it would have been $1100 instead of $60......

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On 3/15/2020 at 6:04 PM, gulo said:


All in all, I went from total loss of 17TB to a full, almost miraculous recovery with no data lost. Pheeew!


(And, what do you mean "almost"? [such a bargain, too.])

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Yeah, I don't need ALL the data. I just need to figure out what's really important and what's just movies/TV shows that are easy to replace. All seasons of Knight Rider 1080p might not make the cut.


Then I'll see about perhaps an online backup for some of it. I hear Backblaze is the cheapest but at $5 a month per TB it can still add up quickly


And yes, it was a FULL miraculous recovery :) 

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