Hard Drive Failure: Why It Happens, And How DIY Repairs Can Destroy Your Data Completely

Hard Drive Failure

Spindle motor failure is one of most common physical hard drive faults users worldwide encounter on a daily basis, and is also one of the more difficult to resolve. The good news is that you’re definitely not alone here: according to Breezetech’s study, hard drive failure continues to be heading the top of the most frequently occurring issues associated with hardware malfunctioning — and for common problems, there ordinarily exist plenty of common solutions to try before getting despair about lost data.

On the other hand, due to the intricate and delicate arrangement of the mechanism itself, a motor failure is known to be one of the most difficult cases respecting repair works, especially if you were hoping to perform some DIY restoration at the comfort of your home.

Now, this article is intended to be your little guide to the most common causes of the HDD motor failure — so that, with sufficient knowledge on the issue, it will be easier to understand why trying to fix it yourself at the risk of losing all the data is an objectively worse choice that seeking professional help.

Two Words On HDD’s Design

Before we move further, here’s a quick excursus in the internal structure of your hard disk drive.

Basically, an HDD is made up of a read-write mechanism (also known as head, spindle, or needle), and one or several platters, on which your data is held in a very orderly pattern of circular concentric paths — “tracks”. Whenever you need to write or access information, the needle is moving across seeking an exact, very specific spot on the platter (without, however, coming in actual contact with it — it hovers a few millimeters above instead).

Now, the platters themselves are powered by the spindle motor, and the latter is crucial for reading and writing information. It is disposed on the underside of the hard disk, and is responsible for spinning the magnetic platters at speeds of around 7,200-15,000 RPM. In case your HDD’s platters stop spinning, or you hear unusual beeping sounds emanating from the chassis, that’s more likely to mean the spindle motor may have failed.

Failing Hard Drive

There are three possible culprits that can stop your hard disk drive’s platters from spinning:

1. Printed Control Board

Normally, the spindle motor is powered by electricity flowing through the Printed Control Board (PCB) on your hard disk drive into the drive’s chassis — and that’s how the platters are set in motion; ocne the circuit board fails, the motor can’t receive enough power.

Any of the following signs may indicate that the PCB has been shorted, or severely damaged in any other way:

  1. Your hard drive spins up, and then, as you plug it in, spins back down. This means one of two things: either your PCB is unable to send enough power to the motor, or there’s a problem with your HDD’s firmware.
  • Your hard drive doesn’t spin up at all. In case nothing happens after connecting to the power source, most likely you are dealing with a printed circuit board that has failed completely, meaning no power can be sent to the motor.
  • Your hard drive doesn’t spin up, and you can smell, or see, smoke. Needless to say, if PCB was shorted so severely that it starts to burn when plugged in… it’s surely dead. Moreover, in this case you should keep in mind that connecting a burned PCB into a power supply unit can cause the latter to fail as well.

In either event, restoring information from a hard disk with a damaged (shorted, burnt, etc) PCB will require all the data to be transferred from the failed one to a matching donor. That, in turn, often includes removing and replacing chips on the board physically, which implies that you will need much more skills than the ability to pick up a screwdriver.

2. Hard Drive’s Spindle Motor

Spindle motor failure is one of most common physical hard drive faults users worldwide encounter on a daily basis, and is also one of the more difficult to resolve.

Just like any other component of your HDD, the spindle motor is very delicate. In many situations, physical shock or damage to the hard drive (like a knock, bump, or drop) can result in seizure of the bearings inside the motor.

Another common cause of failure is the lubricant contained in those bearings itself. As it dries up over time (we know hard drives don’t last forever) and becomes unable to protect the spindle motor, the subsequent friction can cause the motor to seize, or eventually burn out due to the resistance.

3. Read & Write Headstack

Finally, even modern hard disks equipped with accelerometers designed to detect when they are falling — so that the heads can be quickly moved away from the platters — can’t prevent the spindle motor from failing. If a hard disk is dropped while it’s running, the needles might come into contact with the platters (again, instead of hovering a scant few nanometers above the platters’ surfaces), clamping down and obstructing the motor from spinning them. Of course, the platters will be still trying to spin… which is bad news for everything involved. Needless to say, the needles typically end up mangled.


Unlike how it was in older models, when all you needed was the capability of picking the right screwdriver, modern hard drives require professional tools and expertise to perform repair works and restore the lost files.

Fortunately, there is Salvagedata — a highly professional data recovery company that is known for providing both expert data recovery services along with exceptional customer care. In addition to the free examination of your case and the shortest possible restoration times, the lab also offers transparency throughout the entire process, such as the list of lost data you are guaranteed to get back. Want to know more? Feel free to contact Salvagedata today — and get the best service at the most reasonable price!