I just fixed my external hard drive. DIY: success!

Good time to break my string of three long opinionated serious posts for something more light-hearted and fun.

Fixing stuff. DIY goodness.

Long story short: once upon a time, a few mistakes ago, I dropped my Samsung external hard drive. It was lying on the cold hard ground. Ohhhh ohhhh ohhhh ohhhh ohhhhh, trouble, trouble, trouble. The USB connector inside the drive snapped out of its integrated circuitry (IC).


All my hard work torrenting movies now gone. Or maybe not yet. I was determined to get things fixed and I got lucky. I'll explain my "get lucky" moment in a short while.

But in the mean time, the best I could do was breaking the drive open. And it took an enormous beating.


Forgive the bad focus but you got the idea. Only hard prying could get this thing opened. And I was greeted with this bad boy.


Nothing like I had ever seen before. Some technical stuff: normally hard drive connectors are SATA-to-USB which makes accessing data from drives with broken connectors quite easy - just need to get a SATA-to-USB drive enclosure. On this bad boy however, there were no traces of any SATA interface. The USB connector is integrated into the IC - one piece of silicon.

Then some quick Google-fu revealed the dirty secret of Samsung drives. The South Korean giant is apparently the ONLY hard drive maker producing this kind of connector-integrated hard drives. Hence the only way out was to swap the IC with another Samsung drive's healthy, intact IC. And this is the part when I actually got lucky.

I actually had another broken Samsung drive in my storage. With an intact IC.

So the saga continued. That one took another beating to pry open. And the result was pretty sweet: it seemed like I was 12 screws away (6 on each drive) from fixing it all...

...and the screws were too small for my army of tools. Urgh. Without the correct screwdriver, I couldn't take on the job so I saved the state and put them back into storage.

Fast forward a few months to the present. I'm running out of storage on my 4-year-old netbook. My sister's running out of storage on hers. Maybe a good time to revisit the broken hard drives?

This time I got lucky again. I came across a box of screwdriver bits accompanying a screwdriver... while taking a stroll in the supermarket. Chinese multi-tool.


31 bits for 38,000VND? Such a good deal. And I found that one perfect bit! So dim the lights and here we go, the end result:


Magic blue light. Works. More concrete proof:


Yes I actually named my drive MASTER. I can now take my hard drive and transfer all my new torrents onto it :) 

Some personal pointers:

1. NEVER use Samsung drives again. They are pretty reliable but proprietary connectors? No.

2. Sometimes made-in-China's do the job pretty well, which kinda leads to

3. For any job no matter how big or small, the right tools and a lil' bit of patience is all that's needed.

That was a ton of fun and I can't wait to do it again. Actually no since that means some stuff must be broken. Which is sad.

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