Hard Drive Not Spinning? Causes and Fixes Here!

Tracy King updated on Jul 30, 2019 to Resource | How-to Articles

Summary

A hard drive, be it internal or external, may fail to spin up due to several reasons, generally a mechanical or electrical failure. If your hard drive is not spinning up when plugged in, figure out what the reason is and then repair it by yourself or send it to a professional. If there is data loss on the hard drive after it works, you can use the freeware - EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard to retrieve your files.

Hard Drive Not Spinning

When you plugged your hard drive into your computer, you didn't hear the familiar spinning sound that indicates the hard drive is working. Instead, you got no spinning sound and the hard drive acted like it's not plugged in at all. Hard drive not spinning is one of the situations that mean your hard drive is not working. That could happen to an internal hard drive or an external hard drive from Seagate, Western Digital, and more. Honestly speaking, when an (external) hard drive is not spinning, it's highly likely there are some issues with the firmware on your disk. In addition to minor matters like a heavy power surge and insufficient power supply, there are other serious causes that may result in hard drive not spinning.

Possible Causes

  • Electrical failure on the PCB (Printed Circuit Board)
  • The read/write head stuck on the platter
  • Seizure of the platter motor

Symptoms

When your hard drive is not spinning, your computer won't recognize it and you won't be able to recover the data from the hard drive using data recovery software until you fix it.

When your hard drive is not spinning, you are recommended to send your device to a professional for manual repair. If you want to know more details about how to fix a hard drive that is not spinning, read on to do some troubleshooting for your hard drive and learn how to cope with the problem.

How to Fix Hard Drive Not Spinning Up

You can only get the right solution until you find the specific reason that causes your hard drive to fail to spin up. Thus, it's necessary to do some troubleshooting steps first.

Option 1. Check the Power Surge/Supply

If there is a burning smell on your hard drive, your hard drive may suffer from a power surge, which can damage the PCB on your hard drive. In this case, you need to further figure out which component is damaged and replace the component with the one on a same and functional PCB. If there is no burning smell on your disk, you can check the power supply simply by connecting your hard drive to your computer using another cable or connecting your hard drive to another computer. If "hard drive not spinning" remains, It's probable that your hard drive has some mechanical or electrical issue.

Option 2. Troubleshoot PCB

A hard drive's PCB, or Printed Circuit Board, allows electricity to pass between various components that allow the hard drive to function. The main components on a PCB include Main Controller IC (works like the CPU), Motor Controller Chip, Cache Chip, ROM/BIOS, Board Number, and TVS Diodes. The burning of any of these components will result in HDD failure, including hard drive not spinning. 

Among these parts, diodes are the most commonly failing pieces on PCB. When a diode is shorted out, it will cause the hard drive to be burnt. Thus, test diodes first. Here you will need a T8 screwdriver and a multimeter.

Step 1. Take the PCB out of the hard drive with the help of the screwdriver. 

Step 2. Use the two probes on the multimeter to touch both the ends of the diode. 

Step 3. If the multimeter makes a beeping sound and displays a number near zero. There is a short on the diode.

Step 4. If you only want to recover data from the hard drive and discard it, you can remove the diode. While if you want to continue using the device, you need to replace the diode with the one from a functional PCB which is the same as your original one.

Notice:

  • There are two types of boards: external/accessible firmware and embedded firmware. The latter is difficult to remove. Thus, you may need help from professionals.
  • Diodes are rectangular and black components that are generally marked as D + [number].
  • The removal of diode requires heat, which means you need specialized tools. Don't remove the components bare-handed, which may result in physical damage on your PCB.
  • Due to the different firmware information stored on PCB, it won't work if you replace the problematic PCB with an identical one.

Hard Drive PCB

However, if there is an obvious brunt component on the PCB, don't make any further operations on the PCB and sent it to a professional directly.

Option 3. Fix Stuck Disk Head

Problematic disk head will also lead to serious issues like hard drive clicking and the one in discussion: hard drive not spinning. When a disk is not in use, the disk head should park on the landing zone. Thus, if you remove the top cover of the hard drive and see the disk head stuck on the platter, that is the culprit of why your hard drive won't spin. (There are videos available teaching you how to fix a stuck head. You can follow to finish the process.)

Step 1. Use a fitting screwdriver to remove the lid of the hard drive. 

Step 2. If you see the disk head is on the platter, that's where the problem is. To solve the problem, you need to move the disk head back to the parked position using a hook or something alike and a screwdriver.

Step 3. Use the screwdriver to turn the screw in the center of the spindle counterclockwise. You need to pull the head with the hook while you reduce the stress of the platter. 

Step 4. Put the lid back on and connect the hard drive to your computer. Generally, the hard drive will spin up and work again.

Notice

  • Make sure you perform operation above in a clean environment.
  • Other than the screws on the side, there is always a screw under the sticker, which you can find by moving your finger across the lid.

Hard Drive Structure

Option 4. Fix Seized Spindle Motor

When a hard drive works properly, the platter in your hard drive will spin with the help of the spindle motor. If the spindle motor is seized or the spindle itself is damaged, your hard drive won't spin up when plugged in. Usually, a platter swap is performed when the spindle or motor is physically damaged.

Performing a platter swap demands professional tools and a clean environment. Therefore, you are highly recommended to send your hard drive to professionals for manual repair. If you want to try it yourself, you can search the videos on how to perform a platter swap on Youtube and follow the video strictly to have a try.

These are the common causes and solutions of hard drive not spinning. Hope one of them is useful to you.

Extra Tip: How to Recover Data from a Hard Drive

If your hard drive can be detected by your computer after the fix but there is data loss on the disk, you can use the free data recovery software - EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard to get back your lost files.

Your Reliable Choice - EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard

  • Recover deleted, formatted, and inaccessible data in different data loss situations.
  • Recover photos, audio, music, and emails from any storage effectively, safely and completely.
  • Recover data from the recycle bin, hard drive, memory card, flash drive, digital camera, and camcorder.

The Bottom Line

In common data loss situations like deletion, formatting, and OS crash, you can easily recover your files using data recovery software. However, in a situation like a hard drive not spinning, no data recovery software can help before your device can be recognized by the computer. What I want to express is that you should back up your hard drive regularly, which is the safest way to avoid complete data loss. Whether you prefer manually copying files or using free backup software, taking action is the most important.

 
 

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