4 Ways to Fix a Physically Broken Hard Drive

by Jason Davies on January 3, 2014

How to Fix a Physically Broken Hard Drive

Be warned and afraid too: this information is provided for use at your own risk and should only be used to make a bad hard drive situation worse and ready for the recycle bin. Never hurts to try anyway though, right? So here are 4 ways to fix a physically broken hard drive. Bonus content below. Talk about inconvenience, a system crash, but how about the ensuing disaster when your hard drive heads crash west. Most times this means drive data is destroyed and your bits are out of luck—unless you safeguarded your data with a backup. Do you know if your drive really dead, or just mostly dead? .

Step 1: Hard Drive Health Status: Identify what the hard drive is. Hard drives look somewhat similar to this photo. We want to get at the physical hard drive to have the best chance of doing anything with it. This includes being able to send it to a data recovery company.

hard drive what is a seagate hard drive








Step 2: Visualize any potential damage on the hard drive and check connections. Damage can include just about anything.  In this photo, we can see some missing screws, perhaps from a previous repair attempt by someone.  This side of the drive looks okay though, nothing is burned. One thing I can’t illustrate is this board is very hot to the touch and it smells bad.  This board is also static sensitive but for this illustration, is handled without static precautions for this blog article only.  (After all, this drive is going in the recycle bin shortly.)

hard drive circuit board circuit board of hard drive








Step 3: Looking a little closer at things.  What do we have here?  OK, I cheated and used a photo of the circuit board in the photo above and put it under my microscope.  This hard drive was not spinning at all and had some electrical damage from being in an external enclosure where a surge occurred.  This surge was pretty strong as it did some serious damage to components.  If your drive looks like this, I am going to say there is little you will be able to do at home to fix this.  Even genius mad skills in electronics repair may not help here.  This is where the pros would simply replace the circuit board.  Then again, this is a last ditch effort right?  Let’s grab some resistors from another hard drive, stick them on and see what happens right?

hard drive with burnt capacitor

hard drive with burnt resistor


Step 4: Freeze the hard drive, or better yet,  toss it in a snow bank and if that fails, put it under your car and run it over to loosen it up.  Be sure the hard drive has a good view of organic frozen fruit before leaving it in there.  Better yet, don’t do step 4 and just skip to the bottom.

hard drive in freezer hard drive in freezer

hard drive car photo 3








Bonus Step 5:  Try a hot bath.  Sometimes, the problem that prevents the hard drive from working properly can be dirty heads.  Use as hot of water as you can find on the hard drive.  Click Here to take a look at our video.


The things you  just read about hard drive recovery are really common on the internet.  The first few steps might yield some results such as checking the connections.  Other not such useful steps include bathing the hard drive in a snow bank or making sure it is in the freezer across from the Organic frozen fruits.  In fact, running a hard drive under hot water will do a ton of damage and create a seriously dangerous situation if you try to plug it back in. DO NOT do this.  Most importantly, do not do anything with a hard drive indoors.  The electronics can spark, burn, make really bad smelling smoke and in most areas it is illegal to have them on fire and producing that thick black smoke. So, don’t do it.

What should you do:

You should put comments below of what type of questions you have about how to fix a hard drive. Education among group learning is a highly effective strategy to get help at a reduced cost. TechRx Inc. also provides estimates in case the hard drive is important to you.


{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Phillip January 25, 2014 at 6:56 pm

I have a 40 gig Hitachi Deskstar that I can no longer access the data on (lots of family pics). The PCB on the hdd looks to be OK – no burned spots or smells. I can physically feel the platters inside spinning. The hdd is not making any clicking noises. Not really sure where to go from here. Can you give me an estimate of what you would charge to look at it, and if it is fixable, how much would that be ? Or any suggestions on what I can do before I send it off to you ?

Jason Davies January 26, 2014 at 9:56 pm

You are welcome to send the drive in for a FREE evaluation!

Peter Cyprian July 27, 2014 at 10:22 pm

What if your hard drive is a meat and potatoes type of drive? Wouldn’t it be a bit offended if you surround it with frozen organic veggies? What about placing it in the freezer between two good sized rib eye steaks?

In all seriousness, I have actually had success with the frozen HDD- was able to retrieve the data before it crashed again (never to function thereafter).

Anwar September 16, 2014 at 9:44 am

I’m reading this, then you mentioned frozen fruits, and I’m going nutz. I thought you were making a mockery of the thing.

Glad it was a joke. But really, the best way (I think) to avoid having to fix a broken drive is to get cloud storage, either through an external drive or on a desktop/labtop/tablet.

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