Piece chipped off hard drive PCB: RMA or not?

Silencing hard drives, optical drives and other storage devices

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PartEleven
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Piece chipped off hard drive PCB: RMA or not?

Post by PartEleven » Sat Mar 31, 2012 4:09 pm

I'm not exactly sure how it happened, but I managed to chip off a component of my HDD circuit board. Heres a pic of it:

Image

And here's the spot it is missing from on the circuit board:

Image

This is just a data storage drive with nothing on it, so no immediate danger. I plugged the drive back in and I'm able to read/write from the drive. It also passes Windows scan disk, which is not surprise because I think that only checks platter integrity? What is this part anyway, and how dangerous would it be to continue using it? It's still under warranty until May, so should I RMA?

m0002a
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Re: Piece chipped off hard drive PCB: RMA or not?

Post by m0002a » Sat Mar 31, 2012 6:07 pm

PartEleven wrote:What is this part anyway...?
Do you seriously expect someone on this forum to know that?

[Mod: You seriously took the time to post a snippy comment? Where's the purpose of that? Please sit on you hands and wait patiently to see if anyone can be helpful. Your attitude nearly subverted this thread.

Please refrain from crapping on threads in the future!]

mentawl
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Re: Piece chipped off hard drive PCB: RMA or not?

Post by mentawl » Sat Mar 31, 2012 6:19 pm

Looks like a surface mount resistor. I doubt they'd accept the drive for RMA if it's been physically damaged like that, unfortunately. Probably best to relegate it to occasional use and pickup a new one to replace it.
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Mr Evil
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Re: Piece chipped off hard drive PCB: RMA or not?

Post by Mr Evil » Sun Apr 01, 2012 3:15 am

It's a capacitor, which are mostly used for filtering out noise. While the drive may work fine, there is also the possibility that some noise that would have been filtered by the capacitor will instead corrupt data. I would therefore suggest getting the drive replaced.

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Re: Piece chipped off hard drive PCB: RMA or not?

Post by N7SC » Sun Apr 01, 2012 8:16 am

I agree with Mr. Evil: It is a capacitor. But, it may not be necessary, if the voltage that it is filtering is clean enough before it gets to that cap.

You may have to buy a new drive if that one proves to corrupt data. I think that most drive manufacturers are going to call that kind of damage "abuse," and user inflicted. Hence, they will deny a warranty claim. The cost to replace just the circuit board will probably be more than the cost of a new drive. If they will do it. They are not likely to put the surface-mount cap back on for you.

Since it is working, for now, get all of your data off of it, then try running Check Disk (Windows) or something like it that can scan down to the sector level. Make sure that it reads and writes to each sector. If the drive can take the heat build up, I'd run it for several days, continuously. If it passes that test, it probably can be used without fear of problems.

Good luck.
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Re: Piece chipped off hard drive PCB: RMA or not?

Post by ntavlas » Sun Apr 01, 2012 10:15 am

I'm wondering if that missing component means a broken circuit. Whatever was filtered by this capacitor will probably not reach it`s destination now anyway, or would it?

I`m also wondering, would a skilled pen-modder be able to put it back?

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Re: Piece chipped off hard drive PCB: RMA or not?

Post by Mr Evil » Sun Apr 01, 2012 10:35 am

ntavlas wrote:...Whatever was filtered by this capacitor will probably not reach it`s destination now anyway, or would it?..
A capacitor that small is almost certainly connected in parallel with whatever it's keeping noise out of, so everything will still be connected together the same as before.
ntavlas wrote:...I`m also wondering, would a skilled pen-modder be able to put it back?
From the photo, it looks like one of the pads has been pulled off with the capacitor, which makes it much harder to do a reliable repair. I'm sure it could still be repaired with a bit of solder, but then it couldn't be RMA'd.

PartEleven
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Re: Piece chipped off hard drive PCB: RMA or not?

Post by PartEleven » Sun Apr 01, 2012 1:30 pm

m0002a wrote:Do you seriously expect someone on this forum to know that?
No, not entirely. But people from this forum have shown to be very knowledgeable so I figure I might as well ask anyway. What's with your snarky tone? Your post doesn't even add anything meaningful to thread.
N7SC wrote:I agree with Mr. Evil: It is a capacitor. But, it may not be necessary, if the voltage that it is filtering is clean enough before it gets to that cap.

You may have to buy a new drive if that one proves to corrupt data. I think that most drive manufacturers are going to call that kind of damage "abuse," and user inflicted. Hence, they will deny a warranty claim. The cost to replace just the circuit board will probably be more than the cost of a new drive. If they will do it. They are not likely to put the surface-mount cap back on for you.

Since it is working, for now, get all of your data off of it, then try running Check Disk (Windows) or something like it that can scan down to the sector level. Make sure that it reads and writes to each sector. If the drive can take the heat build up, I'd run it for several days, continuously. If it passes that test, it probably can be used without fear of problems.

Good luck.
Thanks. I don't actually have data on this drive; I was hoping it would be safe to continue using the drive. Good idea on the torture testing. Does anyone have a preferred software they like to do this with? Preferably in Windows so I can continue to use the machine while the drive is being tested.

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Re: Piece chipped off hard drive PCB: RMA or not?

Post by m0002a » Sun Apr 01, 2012 1:47 pm

PartEleven wrote:No, not entirely. But people from this forum have shown to be very knowledgeable so I figure I might as well ask anyway. What's with your snarky tone? Your post doesn't even add anything meaningful to thread.
Au contraire, my post was extremely meaningful. Anyone who claims to know what that part is (and what it is used for, which I assumed is what you were asking) is just guessing, has the drive schematics, or is an engineer for the drive manufacturer. If you want to take chances with your data based on these wild guesses, that is your option, but I would advise against it.

BTW, regarding what type of discrete component it is, there are not that many choices, but even if you knew, I don't think that is what you need to know:
  • resistor
  • capacitor
  • diode
  • transistor (not likely, since most of these are in IC's these days)
  • a few others like inductors, oscillators, switches, signal level controls, etc
More than likely, it is one of the above guesses (resistor or capacitor) or a diode. But that doesn't really help much.

A close up pic of the circuit board and/or the part might reveal the type of component, but probably not tell you how critical it is. It may be possible to solder the component back on the board.

[Mod: Finally a useful tidbit in an otherwise mean spirited post. Soldering in the component might be possible, and it might help. Spare us the "extremely" meaningful stuff, please?]

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Re: Piece chipped off hard drive PCB: RMA or not?

Post by HFat » Sun Apr 01, 2012 2:02 pm

PartEleven wrote:Does anyone have a preferred software they like to do this with? Preferably in Windows so I can continue to use the machine while the drive is being tested.
I don't see the point in running chkdsk, "sector level" or "torture" tests.

Just copy huge files to the drive and see if they read back perfectly. I assume you have huge files since you say you were planning to store stuff on the drive.
If you use BitTorrent, just copy your torrents' data and re-check it using your BitTorrent client. That would be the easiest test.
If not, you can use any hashing software to create hashes on the source and verify them on the target. For instance look at the last section of this page: http://md5deep.sourceforge.net/start-hashdeep.html (you may want to use the -l option as well)
If you want to be thorough, you should fill the drive with stuff. Creating several directories with different names but the same content is fine.

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Re: Piece chipped off hard drive PCB: RMA or not?

Post by Mr Evil » Sun Apr 01, 2012 2:16 pm

m0002a wrote:...Anyone who claims to know what that part is (and what it is used for, which I assumed is what you were asking) is just guessing, has the drive schematics, or is an engineer for the drive manufacturer...
Maybe you're just trolling, but it's really not that hard to reliably identify 99% of electronic components, and that one is definitely a ceramic capacitor. Not that the advice would change regardless of what sort of component it was: get the drive replaced.

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Re: Piece chipped off hard drive PCB: RMA or not?

Post by m0002a » Sun Apr 01, 2012 3:45 pm

Mr Evil wrote:
m0002a wrote:...Anyone who claims to know what that part is (and what it is used for, which I assumed is what you were asking) is just guessing, has the drive schematics, or is an engineer for the drive manufacturer...
Maybe you're just trolling, but it's really not that hard to reliably identify 99% of electronic components, and that one is definitely a ceramic capacitor. Not that the advice would change regardless of what sort of component it was: get the drive replaced.
You even quoted me when I said "and what it is used for", yet you seem to have forgotten that when you accused me of trolling. Now who is trolling? Mod: If you spent less time poo-pooing other people's contributions by letting them know how lousy their posts are going to be -- before they are even posted, then you might not get accused of being a troll?]

It may be obvious to you that is a ceramic capacitor (and I don't doubt that), but the first responder claimed it was a resistor. But none of you know what it is used for and whether it is critical to the use of the drive. Just knowing it is a capacitor provides little or no important information to the OP.

[Mod: Why would it be there if it wasn't needed? Of course it matters.]

PartEleven
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Re: Piece chipped off hard drive PCB: RMA or not?

Post by PartEleven » Sun Apr 01, 2012 4:08 pm

m0002a wrote:It may be obvious to you that is a ceramic capacitor (and I don't doubt that), but the first responder claimed it was a resistor. But none of you know what it is used for and whether it is critical to the use of the drive. Just knowing it is a capacitor provides little or no important information to the OP.
I simply asked what that part was for my own general knowledge and curiosity. You sound like you were assuming I wanted the exact specifics on that part and was looking to replace it. I am not.

I'll run some tests on this drive to make sure it is healthy, but I'll think about replacing it. The reason I'm not particularly concerned about this drive is because it's going to store media files that won't cause the end of the world if I lose them and this drive is actually part of a pair. I was trying to set up a raid 1 array with this pair, so whatever data I keep on this will have a copy elsewhere. I figure I won't really be losing anything if it turns out this drive is faulty. Also, hard drive prices are still a little high right now.

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Re: Piece chipped off hard drive PCB: RMA or not?

Post by m0002a » Sun Apr 01, 2012 4:28 pm

PartEleven wrote:I simply asked what that part was for my own general knowledge and curiosity. You sound like you were assuming I wanted the exact specifics on that part and was looking to replace it. I am not.
I did not assume you were wanting to replace it with a new part, particularly since you still had the old part. If you are saying that knowing it is a capacitor (despite one poster who said it is a resistor) was of some use to you, I will have to take your word on that, but it seems unlikely to me. Somehow or other, I think you were trying to determine whether the drive could be used without the part (which may be the case).

Capacitors are used on HDD's for more reasons than filtering out noise. I know that for a fact. But I don't know all the reasons as to why a capacitor would be used, and don't know why that particular capacitor is used.

I still think there is chance the capacitor could be remounted if you know someone who is competent with a soldering iron. On the other hand, not sure which make and model drive this is, since drive prices seem quite cheap to me these days compared to the hassle of losing data.

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Re: Piece chipped off hard drive PCB: RMA or not?

Post by SebRad » Sun Apr 01, 2012 5:05 pm

As the drive is physically damaged it's unlikely to be accepted for RMA, but who knows how close they look... Although a retailer may well test the drive and if no fault found send it back.

I suggest writing a whole load of zip/rar/7z and/or encrypted files to the drive as they can be read back with verification that the data isn't corrupt. Something that may not be so obvious from normal files until it's too late.
If the drive passes then it maybe OK to use for general use, I'd be happy to use it for back up, in fact I use known faulty drives for some of my non-critical back up as I got them free from repair work.

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Re: Piece chipped off hard drive PCB: RMA or not?

Post by PartEleven » Mon Apr 02, 2012 7:22 am

Well I successfully copied 600+ GB of video to it (it is a 1TB Hitachi hdt721010sla360; not sure on that model number though) while it was stuffed into a small 4-bay external unit. Temperatures reached mid 40's, but it looks alright. I still need to completely verify data integrity, but a couple folders I checked has all of their checksum values look correct. Thanks for the advice everyone! Sending it in for an RMA isn't very appealing because of shipping costs, turnaround time, and likely receiving a refurbished unit.

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Re: Piece chipped off hard drive PCB: RMA or not?

Post by dancingsnails » Mon Apr 02, 2012 9:59 am

Most of the small capacitors are likely used for isolating power supplies for components. If a capacitor is missing then that component will be a bit more susceptible to errors when the board can't respond to sudden changes in power requirements. (Like on any clock pulse) There's also likely to be extra noise added back to the power plane from the component. The drive might work fine, it might work as long as it stays cool or...

Personally I wouldn't use it for data that I cared about.

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Re: Piece chipped off hard drive PCB: RMA or not?

Post by Mr Evil » Tue Apr 03, 2012 12:28 am

m0002a wrote:...But none of you know what it is used for and whether it is critical to the use of the drive. Just knowing it is a capacitor provides little or no important information to the OP.
You won't find any redundant components on a HDD, if that's what you're thinking, so if a component is missing, then something is not operating within specifications. That may not cause any problems, but then again maybe the next time someone uses a mobile phone near the drive just a data is being transferred, a 1 will turn into a 0. PartEleven said he won't store anything on it that he doesn't mind losing, so that might not be a concern for him, but most people get quite upset when they discover that their precious data has been lost.

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Re: Piece chipped off hard drive PCB: RMA or not?

Post by m0002a » Tue Apr 03, 2012 2:05 am

Mr Evil wrote:You won't find any redundant components on a HDD, if that's what you're thinking, so if a component is missing, then something is not operating within specifications. That may not cause any problems, but then again maybe the next time someone uses a mobile phone near the drive just a data is being transferred, a 1 will turn into a 0. PartEleven said he won't store anything on it that he doesn't mind losing, so that might not be a concern for him, but most people get quite upset when they discover that their precious data has been lost.
I agree. The last time I bought a hard drive I paid only about $60 for a 1.5 TB drive, so I personally would not want to mess around with a drive with missing components. My time and data are too valuable to worry about $60.

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Re: Piece chipped off hard drive PCB: RMA or not?

Post by Cryoburner » Wed May 02, 2012 1:29 pm

m0002a wrote: I agree. The last time I bought a hard drive I paid only about $60 for a 1.5 TB drive, so I personally would not want to mess around with a drive with missing components. My time and data are too valuable to worry about $60.
Except that was probably before the Thailand floods gave drive manufacturers an excuse to jack up prices. The same drive probably costs twice as much now. : P

There are things the capacitor could be doing that aren't absolutely necessary, like the aforementioned noise filtering. If cables, power supply and/or motherboard are up to par, and there's no significant noise to filter, something like that might not effect performance or reliability. Then again, it could be something that causes another component in the drive to fail early, or erratic behavior to occur under certain situations. You might not want to use it with data that you can't easily replace, but it sounds like it's still probably usable for something like backup purposes. One might not trust it with their data, but then again, it's best not to trust any single drive with data. You might buy a new replacement drive, only to have it fail sooner. The best option would be to keep the data mirrored across at least a couple drives. And to not break random pieces off of them, of course. : )

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