Disk not spinning up

Matthew Seaman matthew at FreeBSD.org
Sun Sep 17 19:57:37 UTC 2017

On 17/09/2017 20:43, Polytropon wrote:
> This is more a hardware question than a FreeBSD question, but
> as FreeBSD is involved, I think it's worth being asked here
> due to the experienced, intelligent, creative and (in an
> entirely positive sense) "unusual" participants on this list.
> I have a harddisk Quantum Fireball with ca. 1 GB capacity
> (yes, that's GB, not TB). It's a (P)ATA / "IDE" disk with
> a 40 pin connector for a flat cable, configured as master.
> The disk has been in use in a system that I built around 1995
> and which I occasionaly used over the years. The last system
> activation was yesterday. Today, the disk just didn't spin up
> again.
> After extracting the disk from the system and using my fine
> "forensics adaptor" to power it, it made short cranking sounds
> (ca. 1 per second) and short beeps from time to time, then went
> silent. I can repeat this.
> Now I probably did something stupid, but a radio amateur friend
> had success with this approach on a 40 MB disk (yes, that's MB,
> not GB). I _opened_ the disk (with gloves, face mask and cap,
> just to minimize the dust falling from my head into the disk)
> and saw the central motor "rotate" clockwise and counterclockwise
> for less than 1/4 rotation. I tried to "help" the disk spin up
> as you can imagine, but it would not do so.
> My question:
> Had anyone had success getting such a disk work again? Is it
> worth searching my "museum" for a replacement controller? Or
> does it look more like a motor failure than a controller failure?
> I can read the disk with my "forensics adapter" like this (tested
> with the other 1.2 GB disk from the same system):
> 	$ sudo mount -t msdosfs -o ro /dev/da3s1 /mnt
> That's the FreeBSD-related part in this question. But of course,
> a disk not spinning up won't be recognized by the system. I'd like
> to at least access the disk once to copy as much as I can.
> Are there any ideas, options, chances, suggestions or experiments
> other than "throw it out of the window"? :-)

Considering the age of the disk, it's amazing it's still showing any
signs of life at all.

What you are experiencing sounds like 'sticktion' -- over time the
lubricants on the drive bearings slowly become more sticky, and this
tends to have the effect that the drive won't start up from cold.

This is one place where percussive maintenance is justified.  If you can
tap the drive in just the right way as it is trying to spin up, you may
be able to get it past the first few turns, after which it should be
able to gather enough momentum to keep going.  You want to hold the
drive flat on the table, and tap the corner of the drive so that it
rotates in the same plane that the platters do.  You'll have to
experiment to see what's most effective.

Once you do get the platters moving, eventually the drive should come up
to normal operating temperature and that  which should soften the
lubrication enough for it to run normally for a while, if you're lucky.

The drive is definitely in its death throws, and your only hope is to
concentrate on recovering any data that you can in whatever short time
is left to it.  If any.  It may already be too far gone.



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