Bringing my External Hard Drive Back to Life

Last Monday I wrote about restoring access to an outdated subversion repository after the hard drive in the computer that was being used as a subversion server died. That was my second hard drive failure of 2009, but at the time I thought it was the third. It turns out that what I had thought was my second failure, the failure of the external drive that I use for backup and random storage, was in fact a case failure. The drive is fine, and it is once again functional in a doctored case.

The drive in question is a 500GB Trekstor Datastation maxi m.u that I got at a boxing day sale at Future Shop a couple of years ago. As many Canadians know, when something from Future Shop dies you’re pretty much on your own to fix it, so that’s what I did. When the drive stopped working I googled it and discovered that a lot of people have had problems with the power supply to the drive. Some have been able to fix the problem with new power adapters, so I tried using an all-in-one adapter that I had, but the drive behaved as it had with its own adapter. Ever hopeful, I opened up the case and brought the drive to the in-laws’ place to test it, and when inserted into a computer it worked, so all I had to do was replace or repair my case and I would have my external hard drive back again.

I looked online at new cases, but it seemed like a waste to get a whole new case when the only thing that was broken was a small circuit board, so I found a stand-alone SATA to USB converter with no case and ordered that. When it arrived I tested it and it worked, so today I set about putting the drive back in the case, but with the new adapter. First, I removed the old electronics from the case. However, the holes that were in the back panel were not large enough for the ends of the cables of the new adapter.

The back of my hard drive case

None of the new cables will fit through these holes!

Out came the Dremel and most of the back panel was cut out to make room for cables & electronics. Once I had made the cut, cleaned up, re-mounted the drive, and re-attached the back plate, I had a good hole through which I could attach my shiny new adapter and keep the drive itself protected.

The back plate of the drive case has been removed.

That's better. I can reach through there.

My only complaint is that the USB cable on the adapter is a bit short, so I may have to get a hub or something to pretend it’s an extension able. For the moment I have just re-arranged my desk slightly.

The drive, in the case, with the new adapter attached.

The drive, in the case, with the new adapter attached.

* A note on image quality: My camera went missing a while ago, so the best I can do right now is the iSight built in to my laptop. Sorry!

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