A Re-formatted TeraStation – Burning Smell from a Hard Drive

In this week’s hard drive / data recovery help and advice page we deal with a RAID 5 Buffalo TeraStation that re-formatted instead of rebuit, and a burning smell from a Maxtor hard drive.

Re-Formatted Hard Drive in a Buffalo TeraStation

Please can you give me a price to recover a Buffalo TeraStation Pro. We’ve recently had a drive ‘go’ and when it was replaced with a like-for-like drive (RAID5), it proceeded to re-format the whole lot, instead of rebuilding. There’s one backup folder in particular which we need off the drive and can provide additional information for this, if required.

Oh dear! that’s not good news… Obviously when a drive breaks on a RAID 5 system like a TeraStation, it will keep working (albeit in ‘degraded’ mode) until the faulty disk is swapped out and replaced with a new one. Once this is done the system should, as you rightly say, rebuild rather that re-format.

Now that the system has been re-formatted however, the danger we have is that the backup folder you wish to retrieve resides in what is termed ‘unallocated space’ (see here for an explanation). Unallocated space can be overwritten with fresh data at anytime a system remains powered on, even if you are careful not to save any data to the hard drives. This is because most operating systems regularly perform independent disk writes as they swap information between memory and the hard drives. The larger the storage capacity of the Buffalo system and the smaller the backup folder you wish to recover, the better, as the % chance of overwriting the backup folder you require diminishes greatly in relation to these two factors.

The best action to take is to switch the TeraStation off immediately – this will of course stop any further potential harm coming to the data. If the re-format was recent there is a good chance of recovering your backup file. This chance lessens the longer the system remains switched on though so please, if the data is important, switch the TeraStation off immediately.

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See our page on Buffalo TeraStation recovery page here.

Burning Smell From A Hard Drive

How To Check a PCB for Electrical Damage

I have been passed a customer’s hard drive which has failed. The drive fails to spin up when powered on and a burning smell issues from the hard drive when powered on.
Please can you advise how I can check that it is the PCB that is at fault?
The drive is:
(Front of drive)
Maxtor DiamondMax 10
250Gb PATA133 HDD
Code: BAH41B70
K, G, B, A
(Back of drive)
JABKZJRL (Bottom left label)
02114LEJHT (Bottom right label)
Info on large square chip:
BEAGLE -D4D4-950
Info on Large rectangular chip:
S2816 WQG266P1

A burning smell from a hard drive often indicates an electronic failure. This is usually the result of a power surge. To check for electronic failure on a hard drive properly requires circuit testing equipment but there is also a rough and ready way you can check this yourself. Unscrew the drive’s PCB and take a good look at it – often it’s the motor control chip that burns out and you can frequently see (and smell) visible burn marks on the surface of this chip.

On Maxtor hard drives look for the Smooth chip – it’s this chip that controls the motor functions of the disk – see photo.

Sometimes, all that’s necessary to get the hard drive working again is to replace the Smooth chip with an exact duplicate – if you do this successfully the drive should again begin to spin up when you apply power to it.

If the drive spins up but makes a ticking sound then the electrical surge that caused the original fault was more severe and has caused additional damage to the read and write heads of the hard drive. This is quite common and you should contact us for further advice.

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