These are some real problems experienced by 52049H4 and Maxtor hard drives in general that we see in our lab. We are not affiliated in any way with hard drive manufacturers. All the information below is based solely on our experience and we do not make any claims regarding reliability of the specific model. We see mostly failed drives in our lab and therefore we don't have complete statistics.
Yesterday my 52049H4(by Maxtor) stopped working when I cycled the power strip off and on. Now when the drive is powered on it makes 3 clicks, stops, 3 more clicks, then spins down and stops. The computer still makes the chime sound when the USB drive is plugged in or unplugged but the drive doesn't show up.
Maxtor hard drives are well-known for their firmware problems. Firmware of the drive is not located on the PCB as most people think. Main part of firmware is stored on the platter in so-called System(Service) Area. System Area occupies the negative cylinders, usually on the inner diameter and contains a number of firmware modules. If one of the modules becomes corrupted the whole hard drive micro-operating system can't boot up, the drive can't initialize correctly and stops working. If this situation occurs the drive becomes identified with its factory alias(N40P, CALYPSO, SABRE, GRIZZLY etc) quote often with 0 capacity. If you attempt to boot up from such drive or read any data from it you would get "Disk boot failure. Insert system disk and press enter" or "Primary Master Hard Disk Fail" or "No operating system found" or "USB Device malfunctioned" error or "S.M.A.R.T. Capable But Command Failed" or some other BIOS error.
Currently there is no way to fix this type of problem at home. It is not an easy "firmware flashing"; it is quite a complicated procedure and requires use of specialized expensive equipment and deep knowledge of hard drive design and data recovery technology. Luckily, it doesn't usually require opening the HDD in clean room and ordering donor drives, so data recovery in this case shouldn't be too expensive.
Hard drive was removed from computer and installed into external HDD enclosure. Whenever enclosure is powered up, there is an error beep from the HDD. Upon connecting to another computer (via usb) the two partitions present themselves. The first partition, acer's hidden reocver partition is readable and 25MB worth of files were able to be copied from it (albeit slowly). Enclosure LED is blue indicating expected operation when browsing this partition.
Maxtors also well-known for their line of "musical" hard drives that have very high rate of bearings failures. When this occurs spindle gets stuck and motor voice coil starts producing nice futuristic cell phone melody or siren: . Data recovery in such case involves removing platters from such musical drive in class 100 clean room environment and transplanting them into matching donor. This complex and precise procedure requires a lot of experience and use of specialized in-house tools to maintain platters in alignment.
Another issue typical for Maxtor hard drives is damage to the components on the circuit board(PCB). Maxtors are very vulnerable to overheating, power surges and bad power supply unit combined with power streak is usually enough to burn spindle motor controller chip on the logic board. Should this occur the computer would reboot itself, you would normally notice acrid smoke and smell coming from your PC and when powered on the drive would not spin up at all.
Another quite common symptom Maxtor drives have is clicking, knocking or beeping sound. The drive spins up and the head starts clicking right from the beginning with a regular constant sound: . Most often this a sign of bad heads, but before doing any clean room work, it is very important to perform accurate diagnostics and eliminate a chance of possible firmware corruption that sometimes could also cause clicking.
I put my ear against my Maxtor 52049H4 hard drive and all I can hear the hard drive doing is spin up, make a soft click, spin some more, click, and so on. ("whiiiiiiiiir-click-whiiiiiiiiir-click-whiiiiiiiiiiiir-click...")
There is one more problem that is typical for all manufactured hard drives: bad sectors. After some period of time magnetic media the platters are covered with starts to degrade and bad sectors appear. Whenever the drive hits such unreadable bad sector it could start freezing, scratching, ticking and sometimes loud clicking: . This leads to further damage to the surface and causes more data loss. As soon as you start experiencing such symptoms while reading important files stop the drive immediately and consider sending it to a data recovery lab for diagnostics. Any further attempts to read it would just add up to the problems and make more data unrecoverable. In our lab we use special imaging tools that are capable of reading raw sector data ignoring sector checksum check. This is usually the only way to effectively retrieve data from these LBAs.
If you experience any of the symptoms described above with your Maxtor 52049H4 please feel free to contact us to get upfront quote on data recovery from your failed drive.
If you hear your Maxtor hard drive making some other unusual noises visit our Hard Drive Sounds page for more examples.
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