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Successfully repaired Samsung Spinpoint F3 Ecogreen HD203WI

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PostPosted: Sun May 08, 2011 12:36 pm    Post subject: Successfully repaired Samsung Spinpoint F3 Ecogreen HD203WI Reply with quote

About a month ago I found my server completely unresponsive. I unplugged and opened the case for a quick visual check and then tried a new power lead to see if the old one had fused causing the failure.

Upon plugging the new lead in the PSU 'EXPLODED' with a flash and a wisp of smoke. Oh dear.. nothing powers up now. I had a 2TB Samsung drive in there (HD203WI) with the last 8+ years of digital outpourings, photographs, music, code etc.

So I tried the disk in my main PC which refused to power up with the drive plugged into the PSU. Once unplugged the PC worked fine so I decided the PCB on the drive must be at fault and having seen the power failure happen first hand I was confident this was the cause of the malfunction rather than any mechanical upset. I convinced myself the data was still intact and that I could certainly gain access to it somehow.

I found www.deadharddrive.com and read the story on the front page and it seemed that a new replacement PCB should work. I quickly went onto Amazon marketplace and ebay and located a replacement drive for sale. I contacted the seller and gave them revision numbers etc from the label on the drive and asked for the details of the one being sold. It seemed like a good match to me, same model number and revision were the same at least.

The drive arrived a couple of days later and I transferred the working PCB over to the 'dead' drive. Plugged it into my main PC and I heard the drive spin up, I couldn't believe it was this easy, it seemed too good to be true... Sure enough the BIOS did not recognise the drive. I then started getting in touch with Data Recovery specialists. The price for recovery seemed reasonable, £270 on average and I was almost ready to part with the money. However the thought of sending so much data away to someone I'd never met and had no real trust in made me feel very uneasy. I find it quite alarming that none of the Data Recovery companies I located offered any kind of guaranteed privacy. At least if they did they were not doing a good job of advertising it!

I decided that if a Data Recovery 'professional' can recover the data then I should be able to as well. I don't have a clean room but if it got to that stage I would definitely send the drive to the pros. Back on Google I go and found this thread where someone successfully repairs a Samsung Spinpoint 1TB drive with a PCB that looks very similar to mine. See last post on that thread for the 'success' part although the whole thread is quite an interesting read.

The idea is that you transfer the ROM chip that holds unique drive information from the dead PCB to the donor PCB in order for it to work with the 'wrong' drive. I took a look at this and the soldering looked pretty tricky to me. Nevertheless I have two soldering irons of different sizes and some copper solder wick so I had a practice run at pulling things of the dead board (I don't recommend this by the way however I figured as the PCB was already dead I wouldn't make it much worse). Turns out I'm no good at doing fine soldering especially with the low powered irons I own. I watched a couple of Youtube videos where people rework chips similar to the one I wanted to do and realised I should really not be attempting to do this myself without proper equipment. I don't even have any flux so even if I got the chip off without breaking it I was unlikely to have success fitting it to the donor PCB.

Then it dawned on me that there is an audio equipment repair guy that lives locally who fixed an amplifier for me last year and is very inexpensive, he charges by time and I figured that this would be a simple and quick job for him to do. He let me know that he'd transferred chips this size before and felt comfortable doing it so I dropped the board off one morning on my way to work.

Two days later and I went to pick up the board on my way home. I plugged the drive in and switched the PC on. The BIOS recognised the board! Things were looking up so I booted a Linux live system from USB and sure enough I can access all the data. I only have a 500gb drive to backup to so I've been transferring the most important data, once I've done this I'll be unplugging the drive and keeping it somewhere safe. I could probably use this 'repaired' drive for many years to come although I've decided to retire it and get a replacement Western Digital one which I will then copy all the data onto. Apparently Samsung drives suffer from PCB failure often and I don't want to take the chance. Saying that it was actually very easy to get access to the data where other drives might prove more tricky.

It cost £60 for an identical drive for the donor PCB and £12 for a professional to rework the ROM chip. Bargain I say! Of course in the future I'm making thrice backups to avoid this happening again!

So to sum up recent Samsung Spinpoints can be repaired by moving the ROM chip to an identical PCB. In my case there were some small differences with some of the components on the board and etched onto the PCB was a different revision number 'REV.01D' rather than 'REV.01' however the ROM transfer worked a treat. It would appear that slightly older drives have the BIOS information stored inside a large Marvell chip that is much more difficult to transfer. There's a lot of information out there though if you're willing to take the time to read and digest it properly.
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Joined: 14 Sep 2004
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PostPosted: Mon May 09, 2011 2:41 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Awesome story and info! Thanks terrorbyte.
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PostPosted: Fri May 13, 2011 3:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

My pleasure, I was so pleased to have my data back that I had to share the experience! I hope it helps someone Smile

Obviously you should use a professional Data Recovery company if you are unsure. Especially if the data you to recover is important enough. Don't mess about with hard drives unless you're willing to lose the data and/or know what you're doing.
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Joined: 27 Aug 2010
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PostPosted: Fri Jul 01, 2011 7:33 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

thank your for your share!

If you data is just important you'd better send them to a recovery company. Fix by ourself can sometimes save lots of money.
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Deadharddrive regular +2

Joined: 14 Nov 2013
Posts: 77
Location: Dubai, UAE

PostPosted: Tue Jul 28, 2015 9:53 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Man, are you serious. How did you do it on your own. I canít understand what you actually said here. Please provide us some video tutorial to make it work. I am having the same problem and I am just getting frustrated. And my customer wants it within three days.

Windows support
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