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Spontaneous Hard Drive Combustion

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Been a while since I posted anything, but I thought I'd drop this amusing(ish) story into the running...

We here about hard drives failing, and usually it's the dreaded unreadable platter, or sector errors or a drive just reaching the end of it's life and smart giving you a 4 minutes to midnight warning of impending doom.

I like any I.T. professional have had my fair share of those over the years, so much so they really don't phase me any more....

I have to say though, I have NEVER had one spontaneously combust on me before.

To be fair, the drive in question however was a very old drive, it was a 250Gb Western Digital V1 IDE that I originally had back in the late 1999's in one of my 386 PC's, it's survived this long without so much as a burb on a bad sector or a single read error, I was essentially just using it as a temp file dump in my second PC it had been working fine all day and for the week before that.

Without warning, there was a strong smell of dying electronic components, and on peering through the vents on the PC in question noticed a little yellow flame...

Needless to say, the power cable was yanked out the back with so much force I almost pulled the PSU out the case with it...

Anyway.... here's the post mortem pictures :-)

At first I suspected the PSU, but after completely disassembling it, examining it and testing the voltages on it, that seems to the best condition part in the PC.

I thought perhaps the spindle motor jammed and the controller ramped up the amps trying to get it spinning again, but opening it and spinning the motor by hand proved otherwise.

So I'm guessing that after 22 years of operation it just decided it had, had enough.

I've packed the actual drive away minus it's controller board in storage now, who knows I might come across a compatible board one day and recover the data,


I guess the seal finally broke and all the magic smoke leaked out  ;D

Yup... pretty much.  :-D

4 days later and my office still stinks of burned electronics...     


--- Quote from: shawty on August 19, 2021, 09:29:56 pm ---Yup... pretty much.  :-D

4 days later and my office still stinks of burned electronics...   

--- End quote ---
It's the Ampère smell... We've all been through that.   :-BROKE

At first glance, that just looked like a burnt spindle motor driver IC, but the burn mark isn't centred over the die, it's more like a smoke trail. It was probably the foam that actually flamed. If you get rid of all that crud and burnt foam, you might just find some blown passive component either on the motor tracks, close in to the IC or maybe even an smd supply decoupling cap.

It's a long shot, but it might just be salvageable. It might be a fun exercise if you get bored - you'd probably get a nice sense of achievement if you were able to resurrecting it from a fiery death!


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