These are some real problems experienced by SP1203N and Samsung 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.
Cannot boot Windows. Grinding noise started. After shutting down computer, attempts to reboot failed. Blue screens read "A process or thread crucial to system operation has unexpectedly exited or been terminated", then "Beginning dump of physical memory. Dumping physical memory to disk: 6, 14". Second blue screen read "UNMOUNTABLE_BOOT_VOLUME". Now Windows is giving a list of options including "Start Windows Normally", "Last Known Good Configuration", "Safe Mode", etc.
Chicago, Illinois, USA
One of the most common problems Samsung SpinPoint hard drives experience is burnt cuircuit board(PCB). Samsung drives are very vulnerable to power overheating and power surges. Often bad power supply unit combined with power streak is enough to burn spindle driver chip on the electronics and make data inaccessible. Should this occur the computer would reboot itself or shutdown completely, you would normally notice acrid smell and smoke and the drive will no longer spin up.
If this is the case you can try to swap PCB from another hard drive of the same model but the chances of success, especially on newer hard drives, are close to zero. The problem is that logic board on modern hard drive is adapted to the head disk assembly it was manufactured with. In our lab we use specialized software and hardware to rebuild these adaptive parameters in ROM to make donor PCB fully compatible with damaged drive.
The drive was working fine up to the point where it simply turned "off". It simply stopped spinning at a certain point, as if the motor died. No heads bouncing on the platter, no grinding or clicking, no burn smell or any visible issues on the of the circuitboard. That makes me think the data is probably OK for the most part (some files may have gotten corrupted when it abruptly stopped working).
Spkane, Washington, USA
Samsung hard drives could also suffer from firmware problems. If part of firmware becomes corrupted the drive fails to initialize correctly and stops working as expected. The drive usually sounds normal but does not identify in BIOS or shows up with zero capacity. If you attempt to boot up from such drive or read any data from it you would get "Primary Master Hard Disk Fail", "No operating system found" or "Disk boot failure" or some other SMART error on boot up.
Another quite common symptom Samsung drives experience is clicking/knocking sound. The drive spins up and and the head starts clicking right from the beginning with a constant or intermittent sound: , , . Most often this a sign of damaged heads and it means this drive needs to be opened in class 100 cleanroom in order to swap head assembly from matching donor. Don't try to open the drive by yourself - most likely you will damage the platters and make your data unrecoverable.
There is one more problem that is typical for all hard drives and Samsung drives particularly: bad sectors. After some period of time magnetic media starts to degrade and bad sectors appear.
My Samsung(SP1203N model) clicks upon startup. There are 3 clicks, then the drive power cycles, then it clicks 3 more times.
Brantford, Ontario, Canada
Whenever the drive hits such unreadable area it could start freezing, ticking, scratching and sometimes even clicking: . This leads to further damage to the media and causes more data loss. As soon as you start experiencing such symptoms while reading important files stop your computer immediately and consider talking to a professional. Any further attempts would just add up to the problems. In our lab we use special imaging hardware tools that are capable of reading raw sector data ignoring sector checksum check. That's usually the only way to retrieve as much data as possible from these sectors.
If you experience any of the symptoms described above with your Samsung SP1203N please feel free to contact us to get upfront quote on data recovery from your failed drive.
If you hear your Samsung hard drive making some other unusual noises visit our Hard Drive Sounds page for more examples.
We have seen a number of websites lately cloning information from our pages.
Stay away from those companies. They can steal information but they can't steal knowledge and experience.
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