Why Swapping Controller Boards on Hard Drives Doesn’t Work

Swapping the PCB / Controller card on Hard Disks for Data Recovery

These days it’s a non-starter…

It used to be possible with drives made in the late 1990’s and early 2000’s to swap the PCB from an electronically broken drive with a working one and, hey presto! the drive would start working again….

Of course, this only applied to broken drives where the fault was related to the controller board… A broken drive that ticked due to a head failure would still be a broken drive and tick due to a head failure after the controller board was changed.

So, swapping the controller board was only an option on faulty disks where the fault was due to a circuit board failure…. Typical failure symptom: the drive will appear dead – it won’t spin and it won’t be recognised in the BIOS

These days if you have a drive with these symptoms don’t bother swapping the controller board. This is because the circuit board on a drive is unique to that drive – and swapping the board with another board from the same type of drive simply won’t work. Each drive’s PCB contains ‘Adaptive Data’ that is a sort of roadmap unique to the drive.

Please contact us if you have a drive like this – we are able to recover the data for you.

And now a blast from the past… back in the days when you could swap controller boards…

Swapping PCB controller boards on Seagate hard disk drives

For Seagate hard disk drives (except Barracuda V, 7200.7, and U7 families)

Match the following:

  • The Firmware
  • The Configuration Code

Often this will be enough but in some cases matching the above will not result in a working drive. This is due to incompatibilities in the extended ROM. When this happens it”s necessary to match the code (shown below) on the ROM chip from both drives, or if an identical spare can not be found – transplant it from the faulty drive”s PCB onto the new PCB.

For Seagate hard disk drive families – Barracuda V, 7200.7 and U7

The code architecture of these drives means that in order to find a compatible PCB, it”s necessary to interrogate the data output by the hard drive during its POST and match the ROM versions.