Maxtor Data Recovery: Taking Control

The client in this data recovery case came to us after their Maxtor hard drive had bitten the dust. Their important photos and documents were stranded on the hard drive they’d pulled from their computer—which was now, to them at least, a paperweight. Fortunately for the client, the data recovery experts at Gillware are well-acquainted with Maxtor data recovery situations.

The client pulled their Maxtor hard drive out of their PC when they noticed their Windows XP computer crashing frequently and behaving slowly. They thought the hard drive might be close to breathing its last breath, so they acquired an IDE to USB adapter cable and sought to move their files to a new computer.

Unfortunately, it just so happened that the client was right about the hard drive being close to its last breath—all too right. The hard drive powered itself down midway through transferring over their files. And no matter what the client tried, it wouldn’t spin up again. They looked over the files they’d managed to transfer over from their Maxtor hard drive. Unfortunately, they were hopelessly riddled with corruption. None of the files they’d tried to recover worked.

Maxtor Data Recovery Case Study: Taking Control
Drive Model: Maxtor DiamondMax 10 6L100P0
Drive Capacity: 100 GB
Operating System: Windows (FAT32)
Situation: Hard drive stopped spinning. User recovered some data, but it was all corrupted
Type of Data Recovered: Photos, documents
Binary Read: 99.9%
Gillware Data Recovery Case Rating: 9

The client had no choice but to throw in the towel. But their data was far from gone for good. At the recommendation of a local computer repair shop’s technician, they got in touch with our recovery client advisers and sent the failed hard drive to us for our Maxtor hard drive repair services.

Maxtor Hard Drive Repair

When a hard drive stops spinning up, there are two possible culprits. Either the motor has stopped spinning, or the control board has stopped supplying it with power. When you connect a hard drive to a power source, electricity flows through the hard drive control board and starts the motor spinning. Once the user starts reading and writing data, electrical signals flow to and from the hard drive and computer through the control board.

Our hard drive engineer Kirk dealt with this Maxtor hard drive’s failed control board. To replace a failed control board, a skilled engineer must take a healthy control board from a compatible hard drive and solder the failed board’s ROM chip to the donor board. The ROM chip contains drive-unique calibrations that the hard drive cannot run without first consulting. This chip is the reason why most modern hard drives cannot be fixed by simply performing a board swap and not doing any additional work.

When a control board starts misbehaving and eventually dies, the power running to the hard drive’s spindle motor abruptly cuts out. This can cause other hard drive components to fail, especially the read/write heads. If a hard drive loses power suddenly, the read/write heads might crash onto the platter surfaces before they can retreat back to their safe zone. Our engineers have to take this into account when repairing a hard drive. But in this Maxtor data recovery case, the hard drive’s other components appeared to be in good shape after the successful control board replacement.

Maxtor Data Recovery Results

Our engineers managed to completely recover 99.9% of the files from this client’s Maxtor hard drive after repairing it. We conducted a spot test of the recovered files for corrupt to make sure the client’s files were useable. Our data recovery technicians found no corruption among the client’s most critical photos and documents. All of their most important data was safe and sound, and just a handful had been only partially recovered. We rated this successful Maxtor data recovery case a 9 on our ten-point case rating scale.

The Maxtor hard drive in this data recovery case had a date of manufacture of October 14, 2005, almost exactly 11 years before it entered our data recovery lab. That is rather long-lived for a hard drive. When hard drives die of old age, their hardest-working and most sensitive components tend to die first. For an old Maxtor hard drive at this age, the user was fortunate that their drive had not failed more catastrophically.

Accurate numbers on hard drive lifespans are hard to come by; many studies on hard drive lifespans come out of data centers, who have their hard drives running 24/7/365. But hard drives usually aren’t so lucky to last too far past their first decade. Our data recovery lab tends to see hard drives die of old age before they reach their tenth birthday, although every so often a particularly long-lived specimen comes through our doors.

Maxtor hard drives ceased production in 2006 when its longtime rival Seagate bought it out. Seagate continues to sell Maxtor-branded external hard drives; however, the drives inside their casings are Seagate drives. As time goes by, our data recovery lab will continue to see Maxtor hard drives trickle in as the remaining drives shed their mortal coils.

Will Ascenzo
Will Ascenzo

Will is the lead blogger, copywriter, and copy editor for Gillware Data Recovery and Digital Forensics, and a staunch advocate against the abuse of innocent semicolons.

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