Computer Hard Drives and Repair

By: Kalin

The hard drive of your computer is an important component because you use it to store long-term data. It uses magnetic surfaces on which the data is stored digitally. In its early years the media was removable from the actual drive like the floppy drive and others but with time the drive and the media (the actual keeper of information) became one whole body.
The writing and reading functions in the hard drive are performed by the head which is a small electro-magnet assembly. It is able to reach every sector of a disk in which the data is stored. There are many disks laid in a spindle which is used for a rapid rotation enabling the head to read and write data quickly. The rotation speed of the hard drive is one of its main characterizations.
There are three interfaces on a hard drive which you will use to install it on your system. The first is the IDE connector. It is used for data transfer from and to the drive. Usually there is a red line which will tell you on what direction you should point the cable. The red line should always be on the side of the power connector. In the new hard drives you will find impossible to make mistake because you will be limited by a small fang element. The power connector is what connects the hard drive to the power supply unit. The jumper block is the last interface you will use. It is made to set the drive working in a proper manner concerning the place on the cable in which it is set. Usually if you install it on the end of the cable the jumper should be set to master and in the other situation - to slave. There is also a cable select function but it may not work properly with some motherboards and that's why it is best for it to be set manually.
After proper installation of a hard drive you should check if the BIOS is properly finding it. This is done with the BIOS setup in which you could enter by pressing a special key seconds after you start your computer.

This usually is the place where the repair work begins. If you can't detect the hard drive manually and you ensure that the installation is made good you should consider a possible hardware problem. Try listening for noise from the hard drive. The spinning causes a constant low noise which is usually detectable if you listen carefully. This will tell you if the drive is actually running or not. If there is a scratching sound you should immediately power down the system and take your drive for repair from a professional because it is most likely the damage to be mechanical. The inside corpus of the hard drive is dust and air free and that's why you should never try to open it yourself if you are not a specialist.
If your hard drive is permanently damaged there is a small chance for recovering data. This is done by removing the media from the drive and putting it on a special drive for data recovering but if there is physical damage on the platter the data is most likely beyond recovering. That's why you should always put important data into more than one place. If you have many partitions putting the data on the other one will not help if they all are on one hard drive. Always take seriously the way you store and use the data in your hard drive.
Now I will provide some information for people who are more interested in hard drive repairing. The first thing is one MS-DOS command called debug. It will let you operate in a very direct way using machine code. Understanding this code is a very important part of this procedure. For example you could enter D40:0 and this will give you a few lines of information. The first will tell you all the ports which are present in your computer. Of course you will see it only if you know the codes like F8 03 which is COM1 port, F8 02 - COM2 and so on. Use the command "q" to exit the shell.
Other useful information that you should know is why some software supports are not possible. For example Windows 95 does not support hard drives over 32 GB. It is designed that way because there was no need for that kind of support when it was created. It's the same with file systems - you can't use FAT16 if the size of the partition is over 4 GB. You should always think about what is supported because this is your final limit.
The locking of the hard drive is another interesting issue. It is done by the simple commands lock and unlock. For example if you want to lock the partition with letter C you should type lock c: and unlock c: to unlock it. You may encounter problems if the hard drive is locked when you try installing software, operation system or perform any other activity that requires special writing access.
I will finish this article with information about recovering loss, missing or deleted files from the hard drive. This is very important to know because it could save you a crucial data. First ensure that the files have really been deleted. Try finding them on all drives because sometimes it is possible that they have simply been moved. Check if you have a backup of the file. If you have one it will be easier to restore from it. Many operation systems have recycle bin or trash and if you mistakenly delete a file you may find it there too. If you can't recover the file like this and if it really is deleted you should know that only the link in the file system has been deleted. Now the most important thing is not to write any more data on that drive because the file you are trying to recover is marked as free space and it may be deleted completely if you write data over it.
To restore lost data use freeware software like Undelete Plus or purchase a better one if you feel the need. This also is a good time to consider help from a specialist.

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