Super-dead(ly) External Firewire problem... help!

Discussion in 'Mac Accessories' started by ThePromenader, Jun 4, 2005.

  1. ThePromenader macrumors newbie

    Jun 3, 2005
    It's too bad that my first post here is a plea, but here goes.

    Today I am the proud owner of an endlessly-clicking external Firewire disk with partitions that sometimes mount (yet contain nothing). This, if anything, should be a lesson in what one should NOT do. Curiousity and impatience are a very bad mix.

    Around a month ago I was thinking of installing Tiger and was "readying" my HD space for it. I wanted to keep my "old" system (as I couldn't take a break from work long enough to install an entire new "work" system), so I made a clone of it (using CarbonCopyCloner) to my external HD. Worked like a charm; I could boot from my external HD and continue work without a hitch. A couple days later I erased my "original" workstation partition and installed Tiger.

    To do the above I had to go out and buy tons of DVD's and CD's as I had not room enough on the external HD to clone my "work" system to it - two days of burning 'on the side'. While I was doing that I had come to a point where I had enough space across two partions for my system - would it be possible to, if I moved all the data to one partition, change the overall size of the second without destroying the data? I had a look around for an app that did this and discovered three - iPartition seemed to be the best of these. I downloaded the demo and played with it a bit - it seemed pretty convincing. I wrote them with a couple questions and they answered after around a day - very friendly people. I unfortunately had moved on by then but told them I liked their application and would think of buying it.

    Now here's the fun bit - it was only a couple days ago that I had time to "move out" of my work system into Tiger - I was "getting rid" of the applications that I would re-install into Tiger (I did a clean install), so the entire thing took up less than half its partition space. The partition next door was where I kept all my CD's - I saw iPartition as an opportunity to "move the barrier" between the two without having to burn all 70gigas of mp3's. But I'm not one to buy something without being sure that it works.

    I had told a friend about iPartition and he said he had it and it worked fine - I gave him a call and asked him I could give it a try. All my data was backed up, there was only my music and my "old" system on my Firewire HD, so no problem for data loss.

    Well, to make a long story... er, not too too long, iPartition crashed halfway through (1/2 operations?) - to tell you the truth I can't remember if my entire HD disappeared right away (I may have "blanked out"), but in any case, when I restarted, all partitions it contained were gone. My hd made a rather bad sound on startup, then it would click... click... click... click... well, eternally. The same happens every time since then, and sometimes certain partitions won't appear at all (looking in Disk Utility), not even in grey.

    The problem seems mechanical, but I can't see how software could do this. I spent a good two nights reading up on everything from firewire to firmware - I even opened up my HD to see what make and model its bridge (Yano - OxfordFW911) and HD (Western Electric) were - and even downloaded a java Firmware updater to check (I repeat, check) whether the firmware was installed and recognizable. It seems to be.

    So how can I get the drive to turn normally - can I? Is it definitively dead? I really don't think any software I used had anything to do with it - before doing anything I had run Diskwarrior, Norton Speed disk (defragment for disk resizing) and repair permissions, and something made iPartition crash - a bad block perhaps? I had a look at my crash logs but understood little there - as far as I'm concerned, that little game is over. I would like to write to the iPartition people but I had this done for me with software that wasn't mine - Should I buy the application then ask them for help - buy the application that may have been part of the problem in the first place? Something tells me that, even if I did that, my drive would still be irrepairable. If they can fix it I will for sure - but this would make one &$%^ of a paradox situation.

    I would like to recuperate my HD if possible, so if any of you would have any suggestions please forward them to me here - thanks in advance for that. I think I have taken up a little too much room in telling the story and not enough on the info - I have some other info (crash logs, message on Single-user startup when drive tries to mount) but I will only post it here if needed.

    Conclusion: DVD media has become very appealing over these past few days. "Switching things around" on an HD is NOT to be taken lightly with ANY application.
  2. gekko513 macrumors 603


    Oct 16, 2003
    A hard drive that make clicking sounds isn't a good sign. It could very well be that the hard drive failed all on its own. Even if it was iPartitions fault or not, it sounds like the hard drive has a mechanical flaw now, and to my knowledge it will be very expensive to get any data back, and I don't think there are anyone who even try to repair a mechanically broken hard drive to get it back in working condition.

    Edit: I certainly agree with your conclusion :D
  3. ThePromenader thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jun 3, 2005
    Thank you for your reply. I've been looking everywhere for a solution - what you're saying has been the basic consensus I've been getting and - LOL - the only real solution anyone has 'had any success with' is freezing the drive overnight.
  4. ThePromenader thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jun 3, 2005
    ...a bit of an update: I think my problem is hardware-related. Even when not plugged into the computer (firewire cord) the HD will wind up, make that "bad" sound (a faint bandsaw) and start clic-clic-clicking away. Something the HD (firmware?) is reading at startup is "sending" the head somwhere it shouldn't, which causes the drive to wind down and start going clic-clic-clic-click-you-get-the-idea.

    Perhaps this isn't the best place to post about problems such as these - it is another thread involving similar problems that brought me here. Thanks to all who helped, and a thanks in advance to those who still can.

  5. Jo-Kun macrumors 6502a

    Dec 20, 2003
    how old is the HD? was it allways on together with your mac?

    because if its a backup drive I would reccomend only to connect it and use it whenever needed and otherwise let it be unplugged unpowered it will prolongue the life of the drive & the data stored...

    for critical data don't be cheap on hardware and buy 2 drives from the same type and make mirror copies on the second one... if one drive fails buy a new one and again mirror... its the safest way

    yes DVD's seem tempting but the lifespan of the disk is shorter than a HD

    a friend uses tapebackup and allso makes more than one copy each time... just in case...

    the more copies the less chance of losing anything ;-)

    PS: and as you found out allready: the click of death... means... death...
    I guess it was coming around soon anyway but maybe the process of partinioning speeded it up a little... who knows...
  6. ThePromenader thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jun 3, 2005
    Thank you very much for your reply.

    My HD is around two and half years old - a 120gb yano (Disk itself is Western Electric; The chip is an Oxford OSF911). Yes, it was always connected as an external source of work data. My "old" system was only a recent addition.

    I understand that my drive is dead, would you perhaps know what is "directing" the head to its "lost" (clicking) position after startup? Could it be the firmware? I could re-flash the Oxford chip should the need be as I already have all that's needed to do so. But I don't see the point of doing so if there is no logical reason to.

    <added>PS: I have many friends in Antwerp : )</added>
  7. Jo-Kun macrumors 6502a

    Dec 20, 2003
    flashing the chipset won't matter much, because thats just a board to change from ATA to FireWire...
    the problem will be the drive itself and I don't think there is much you can do...
    you can get lucky (as I did with my old Pbook) by trying to format the drive again (as one big partition) ok you lose the data (wich is lost now anyway) and in some cases... as in mine, can't explain how or what... it just fixed itself...

    what makes the drive click? don't know what did make my drive from stopping to click? reformatting it before installing Panther...

    maybe the clicking sound is madebecause the drive is looking for something, and doesn't find ist and goes all the time from one side to the other??? really don't know...

    another solution wich allso doesn't recoveer the data but gives you the space back is just opening the case and install a brand new 120GB drive...

    some drivemanufacturors are known to have trouble wtih drives lifespan... some threads can be found on this forum I guess...

    my LaCie D2 80GB drive is over 3y old... allways on never had a problem... maybe its about luck? don't know...

  8. thequicksilver macrumors 6502a


    Sep 19, 2004
    I'm afraid clicking can only mean one thing - dead drive. I have had issues with a corrupted partition this week, so I sympathise.
  9. ThePromenader thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jun 3, 2005
    ...wait a second, sir... and if I pulled the drive to put it into another body - say USB or something? Or SCSI (joking! : P) ? That probably still wouldn't change anything...

    I really think that the HD is "mis-guided" during it's wind-up run - normally the head moves to a certain 'neutral' position when it's not reading, non? So something is telling it to "move" somewhere it shouldn't - that's just a theory based on what I've seen until now - it would be really nice to find an article on the "inner workings" of a hard disk.

    I'm really touched at your replies - thanks for helping a working joe get his tools back on the road.

    For now I'm all go for the "full format" suggestion - to hell with the data : P
  10. Jo-Kun macrumors 6502a

    Dec 20, 2003
    other board will not change anything (don't hit me if I'm wrong but it doesn't sound logical, becasue what would happen if the board is broken: nada... the drive would sit there and await instructions...)

    I think the clicking is (let's use your theory) the drive seeking its neutral position and not finding it... so winding up looking from side to side rrr hitting the wall and doing it all over again, in a way this makes sense ;-)

    good luck with the format option...

    my drive was not yet dead when I did it, but it made the sound as if the head was grinding on the platters instead of the usual 'hovering' above it and afterwards this was gone... mostly occured when starting a program or opening a folder... it took sometimes longer (thus not finding it instantly) and clicking and then finding it and stop clicking...

    so as mentioned allready good luck, may the force be with you ;) hehe

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