Inside a broken hard drive

Early last week I was working on my MacBook, with a USB hard drive, FireWire Time Machine drive built from my old iBook, and keyboard connected. Suddenly, my computer shut off, and I smelled burnt plastic — clearly two events you don’t want to see in quick succession. Fearing the worst, I pressed the power button again, and the MacBook came to live. When it was back at the desktop, I set about determining where the smell had come from.

It turns out that it was my 4 year old iBook drive, which had vanished from the desktop and would not mount regardless of the steps I performed on it. So I did what any curious nerd would do: I took it apart then put it on eBay. Who would buy a broken hard drive, I do not know, but I’ll soon find out. I knew that the data couldn’t be salvaged, and since it was a backup drive, I wasn’t concerned about the loss. Keep in mind that if, for some reason, you’d like to do something similar, your data will be destroyed.

The results of the destruction are shown here. While I couldn’t see any significant damage when I opened it up (I was hoping for mangled and burnt plastic), the drive is surely dead now after my finger prints slipped onto the platter.

So if you’ve ever been curious as to what goes on inside a 40GB iBook drive, behold the wonders!

The platter

The mechanism

Update: It turns out that no one buys broken hard drives. Maybe I’ll try again.

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