Question Reprogram Seagate BIOS Chip

Aug 22, 2020
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Hi there,

so here's the thing. The cache chip on my sister's Seagate Barracuda ST2000DM001 9YN164-500 (FW: CC4B) burned out (i.e. got immediately hot in that area and it smelled burned), so I went ahead and bought a new PCB with the same model and same revision.
The problem is, I accidentally broke off one leg of the BIOS chip while transferring.

Is there any way I can retrieve their data?
I thought of buying a third PCB (because I probably ruined the second one already lol) and trying to reprogram the chip with a firmware .bin file I found for that hard drive model with the same firmware on another site (I'm not sure if I'm allowed to mention their name). However, they do say in a README, that they don't know if the firmware works or if it's corrupt because their drive failed for not only electrical damage.
Would that be possible? Is there another way I could get a hold of the (working) firmware I need?

Are there other possibilities, as I don't have the financial capacity as a student to shell out at least one grand for a platter swap if that would even do anything.

Suggestions would be highly appreciated!
 
Aug 22, 2020
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I'm not sure where the pin counting starts but it's the first pin from the left in the upper row if you look at the PCB with the SATA connections pointing towards you

Edit: Would it be possible to recover the data via the disk's serial port if I could just get it to spin? I don't care about the drive itself, it's just about the data
 
Pin #4 is the ground pin. That's an important pin. Try to find an electronics tech who can repair your chip, at least to the point of dumping its contents.

Recovering the data via the disk's serial port is not feasible. In any case the serial port is not active in any meaningful way when the ROM is absent. All you get is a rudimentary debug monitor.
 
Aug 22, 2020
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Thank you for your input! I'll try asking a electronics shop if they can do that on monday, as it's already 11pm here and I will keep you (and the rest) posted.

I just hope the chip didn't die and can at least be read, because my brother in-law was too happy that I had the drive in the first place 🥴
 
Aug 22, 2020
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I have some news!

Literally every shop I asked didn't even look at the hard drive but to be fair, they weren't electronic technicians (specialised in small electronics).

Good part: Back in Berlin I finally got to ask a data recovery company.
Bad part: They want to charge 1,300 bucks for it including a 20% discount because I'm a student.

Now I'm trying to find the cheapest offer I can find for the platter swap. I suppose that's what they'll do based on the price.

I also tried asking in some hacker spaces here in Berlin if they could help with the chip but they said no because it's too small and too much work :/


So for everyone looking for help in the future: Don't even try desoldering the BIOS chip with an soldering iron. You should really, really, really buy/rent/whatever an hot air rework station for that or your chip might end up like mine with a pin missing.
Edit: Or maybe try dumping the content first and don't bother with soldering...
 
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Now I'm trying to find the cheapest offer I can find for the platter swap. I suppose that's what they'll do based on the price.
So far they are quoting based on a dead ROM chip. Nobody swaps platters unless the spindle motor is unsalvageable.

If they can't repair your dead ROM chip, then the price will double or triple, assuming you can find the 2 or 3 people who are able to do this.

I would ask at forums such as eevblog.com or badcaps.net.
 
Aug 22, 2020
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A real backup situation laughs at broken storage devices.
Replace the drive, and recover the data from your backup.
Yes, if this was my own drive. But as I said, it's my sister's and they of course made no backup.

So far they are quoting based on a dead ROM chip. Nobody swaps platters unless the spindle motor is unsalvageable.

If they can't repair your dead ROM chip, then the price will double or triple, assuming you can find the 2 or 3 people who are able to do this.

Really? I thought that's what they'd be doing. As far as I've seen prices, the 1000+ (fixed) prices were already for platter swaps.

I would ask at forums such as eevblog.com or badcaps.net.
Thank you for the tip, I appreciate it and I'll give it a try! :)
 
Aug 22, 2020
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Thank you for the links but I guess I won't invest any more energy in DIYing this as the data is too important (my head is probably dependant on that 😬 but definitely the relationship with my in-law and my sister with that). I now found a repair shop that has (hopefully?) fixed price ranges with mechanical errors in their clean room for under 1000 from a really reputable retailer.
I'd be better off paying them (hoping it's not the 1300 the other one asked for) and if I'm lucky, my sister will split the check.
I know I just said I'd read into it but then I found this company. Sorry for making you dig up those links but at least I skimmed through them, if that makes you feel better.

Maybe in the future, when I start to produce data as I only have like 5 music files I could download any time again, I'll make myself familiar with hard drive technology in terms of data recovery. Or I'll just make a habit of dumping the ROM after buying a new hard drive..


As for backing up in the future @USAFRet, I think they still won't make backups because a second hard drive (this already was used as an external hard drive just for backing up data) costs money. I know how that sounds right now, but this will probably be their answer.



Again, thank you so much for your input!
 

USAFRet

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As for backing up in the future @USAFRet, I think they still won't make backups because a second hard drive (this already was used as an external hard drive just for backing up data) costs money. I know how that sounds right now, but this will probably be their answer.
Backups of your data is sort of like paying for car insurance. No one likes paying it.
But if/when you need it, you can't go back in time 5 minutes before the BadThing happened and do it.

$50-$75 for an external drive, and free software...

Couple years ago, one of my drives crashed. Died totally. 605GB of basically irreplaceable data on it. Pics of my kids/grandkids over the years.

My nightly backup routine let me recover 100% of that data, exactly as it was at 4AM that morning.

Today, it is sooo cheap and easy...I have a hard time feeling sad for anyone that lets their data go byebye.
 
Aug 22, 2020
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I know how you feel, but I swore to myself to not touch anything in terms of repairs and tech stuff in general for them anymore after the data is restored.
Of course, I'll still use their coffee maker when visiting, as that thing makes a mean latte macchiato (pretty much all milk with a bit coffee; pretty popular in Germany, not really known in Italy) 🤤

So from that point onwards, I couldn't care less.
 
@fabiiretro, if the ROM cannot be rebuilt, then a clean room will be moot, even assuming that the original problem was an internal one.

BTW, what was the original problem? If it was just a matter of shorted TVS diodes, then you are going to feel sick when you find out how easy the fix would have been.
 
Aug 22, 2020
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You mean even a platter swap wouldn't help? I asked Seagate for help, asking if there was any chance to get the data back with their own data recovery service. They just ignored me lol

Another makerspace person replied to me, there's a pretty small chance they know how to work an SOIC8 to at least temporarily restore a pin.

The cache chip on my sister's Seagate Barracuda ST2000DM001 9YN164-500 (FW: CC4B) burned out (i.e. got immediately hot in that area and it smelled burned), so I went ahead and bought a new PCB with the same model and same revision.
The problem is, I accidentally broke off one leg of the BIOS chip while transferring.
It didn't heat up directly under the chip but rather a bit down to the left I guess but in the size of the chip and only there. It didn't start up, so it sounded like an internal problem to me, which could be fixed with a PCB swap.
It would have been easier (and much more cheaper, now) if I used a hot air rework station in the first place for the PCB swap instead of trying to do it with just the soldering iron.

Sending it away to a data recovery service for doing something that seemed simple enough and paying a few hundred bucks for that didn't seem plausible.
Local shops rejected me, although I did not ask very thorough as I was just staying with my parents and preparing to head back home.
I guess sending it to a repair shop or even some of those PCB retailers that offer BIOS swaps would have been a better and in the end cheaper idea for me
 
It's rare for the ROM chip to be electrically damaged in normal usage. If it was, and if the 5V TVS diode was shorted, then there is some chance that the preamp on the headstack was also damaged. At worst, this would necessitate a head swap, not a platter swap.

In any case, if your data recovery shop cannot recover the contents of the ROM, you will be facing a huge bill. Personally I think that Seagate should be morally obliged to maintain a database with copies of all its customers ROMs, but AFAIK they don't do this.

BTW, I recommend hdd-parts.com as a PCB supplier because they include a free ROM transfer service.
 
Aug 22, 2020
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As I said before, the ROM was probably not affected. This huge chip on the PCB which I found out to be the cache chip did.

My problem is that I failed terribly at the ROM transfer to the new board resulting in the broken pin.

I saw some sites offering the transfer when purchasing from them, but at that time I didn't want to spend ten times the money compared to ordering the board from aliexpress.

Anyways, I learned my lesson there and have to pay whatever the next repair shop asks me to pay.
 
Aug 22, 2020
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Well, I have another update and it's quite shocking, at least for me.

Seagate just replied to my email from about a month ago and they offered me their data recovery service. FOR FREE 🤯 Good thing I waited that extra day before sending the hard drive to another service and paying whatever they'd ask.
 
Aug 22, 2020
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Will do. Altough I explained the situation in detail in my inquiry with the broken pin on the bios chip etc.

I don't care about the drive anyways and apparently, they even provide a replacement of some sort. As long as they recover the data, I'm fine. There was no promise on recovering all the data but as I read it at least most of it.

German original: In Bezug auf Ihre Daten freue ich mich jedoch, Ihnen mitteilen zu können, dass wir Ihnen bei der Wiederherstellung Ihrer Daten helfen können. Bitte seien Sie versichert, dass unser Team alles in seiner Macht stehende tun wird, um sie für Sie wiederherzustellen
Hopefully good enough translation: I'm pleased to tell you that regarding your data, we can offer recovering it. Rest assured, that our team will do their best to do so.

But well, it's free for whatever reason. 🤷‍♂️
 
Aug 22, 2020
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I just got my drive back from Seagate. As you said, they could not recovery any files/repair the drive.
BUT: they did try to etch the chip to solder on the ground pin. You can clearly see this. What I find confusing is that they in fact did not solder on a new connection from the chip to the pad, although you can see the inside pin from the chip 🤨 Not sure which of those two is the ground pin (they one on the right could already be from the other pin), but shouldn't they know that?

 
You can easily determine if the exposed pin on the right goes to pin #5 by testing for continuity with a multimeter.

On the whole, this job looks inconclusive. :-?

BTW, is that your original PCB? Have you tried another local electronics repairer?
 
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Aug 22, 2020
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I might get continuity but this could just be me hitting the pad 😬 So I'm not sure about that

That's what I'd call it, yes. I just noticed that on the picture pin 3 and 4 look separate when in person, they seem to be molten together I guess? Or I'm just blind which is also highly possible.

No, this seems to be a third board by now. I also knocked off the small capacitors right next to the chip on both boards I had.


In conclusion: I now have a molten chip that hopefully the local repair guy can somehow save on tuesday which will probably set me back a grand plus I got a new screw because I lost one at home
 

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