Nothing is scarier to some people than the silence of their hard drive when it stops spinning. Even if your hard drive stops spinning after a few seconds, you shouldn’t immediately assume it’s dead and gone.
Some hard drive spins then stop due to electrical failure or if the read/write head gets stuck on the platter. In other cases, you might simply be dealing with a faulty USB port when it comes to your external hard drive.
Let’s dive in and analyze all the possible reasons why your hard drive stopped spinning and how to fix it.
Why does your hard drive stop spinning after a few seconds?
To know why your hard drive spins then stop after a few seconds, you need to know what to look for before jumping to conclusions. Here are the most common reasons why your hard drive won’t spin and how to solve it!
1. Faulty adaptor
If you are using an external hard drive, and it stops spinning, it might be related to your adaptor.
The adaptor might not properly transmit electrical signals to your hard drive, causing it to stop spinning shortly after it’s plugged in.
2. Electrical failure on the printed control board (PCB)
The most common reason your hard drive stops spinning is usually related to the PCB – printed circuit board or control board. If the printed control board fails due to electrical failure, it won’t send enough power to the spindle motor.
The spindle motor is responsible for making your hard drive disk platters spin. Even if the motor starts to spin up due to the lack of power, it won’t keep spinning, and it will stop.
A burning smell is usually the best indicator of electrical failure in hard drives. A power surge can cause this. The printed control board on your hard drive is responsible for allowing electricity to run between many of the hard drive’s components.
PCB’s main components are:
- Main Controller IC
- Motor Controller Chip
- Cache Chip
- Board Number
- TVS Diodes
If any of these components burn, you will experience HDD failure and/or spinning issues.
Luckily, diodes are usually the first components to fail, and they can be replaced.
3. The read/write head might be stuck on the platter
Another reason why your hard drive spins and then stops after a few seconds is if something is impeding its motion. Usually, the read/write heads might get stuck and prevent the movement of your spinning platters.
This is why your hard drive stops spinning, even if you ruled out all the other issues. Fortunately, you can fix this by yourself with the right tools and a bit of patience, and carefulness.
4. Seizure of the platter motor
The platter motor or spindle motor might experience a failure, and this is why your hard drive clicks then stop. One of the most common reasons for this failure is related to the motor’s lubricant.
If the motor lubricant dries out, it won’t correctly spin the platters. Damage or other tiny objects might block the spindle motor as well.
5. Faulty USB port
If your external hard drive is not spinning on startup, it may be related to a faulty USB port and not necessarily due to the hard drive’s PCB components.
A broken USB port might still send electrical signals to your device but not strong enough to make it work correctly and thus spin continually.
How to fix a hard drive that stops spinning?
Many people don’t risk fixing their hard drives themselves due to fear of losing precious data.
Even though it is recommended to take your hard drive to a professional for inspection, there are some things you can do if your hard drive stops spinning after a few seconds.
Here are the safest ways to fix your hard drive spinning issues:
1. Try another adaptor
First, let’s start with the easy stuff. Your external hard drive might be alright, even if the hard drive clicks then stops. It might simply be related to a faulty adaptor that can’t properly transmit electricity.
To check your adaptor, try connecting another device to it, and then go through different USB ports to see if it works appropriately. If this didn’t help, let’s go on to something more serious!
2. Check your power surge/supply
If something smells like it’s burning, then you should check your power surge/supply on your hard drive. Some things can be solved at home, while others are best left in the hands of the professionals, and here is where you might make a decision.
You need to figure out which component on your hard drive burned up or check to see if anything is damaged. If you wish to replace specific components, make sure they are compatible with the same PCB.
Check the power supply if a burning smell isn’t present when your hard drive stops spinning. Try to connect your hard drive to another computer.
If your hard drive stops spinning after a few seconds again, it’s most likely a mechanical or electrical issue, and down below, you will find out what to do!
3. Perform a troubleshoot PCB
Since the PCB is the main electrical conductor, you need to check which of its components are faulty. Bring a T8 screwdriver and a multimeter, and begin taking the PCB out of the hard drive with the screwdriver.
Since diodes are typically the first hard drive components to fry up, test them with the multimeter by touching both ends of the diode. If the multimeter beeps and displays a low number, near 0, there is a short on the diode.
You can discard the diode if you only want to recover the data from your hard drive, but replace the diode if you want to continue using the hard drive. You need specialized tools to remove the diode; don’t remove them bare-handed.
Two types of boards exist on hard drives: the external/accessible firmware and the embedded firmware. The embedded firmware is difficult to remove, and you might need professional help.
If you still want to proceed, you must do it at your own risk. Check the same type of PCB disassembly on YouTube, and take extra care. But the best thing would be to take it to a professional.
4. Try other USB ports
If your USB port is faulty, it might result in hard disk spinning issues.
However, you can always try out your other USB ports and see if the hard disk spinning problem persists. If it does, read on to the next solution!
5. Fix the stuck disk heads
If your hard drive clicks then stop, or if the hard drive stop spinning, it might simply be due to the disk’s heads getting stuck on the platter. Make no mistake; clicking sounds are a bad sign; however, you can easily solve it when it comes to spinning:
- First, use a screwdriver to remove the hard drive lid. Locate the disk head, and see if it’s on the platter.
- Move the disk head back to the parked position by using a hook or something similar and the screwdriver.
- Proceed with great caution. Use the screwdriver to turn the screw in the middle of the spindle counterclockwise.
- While you reduce the stress of the platter, you need to pull the head with the hook.
Once everything is in the proper position, put the lid back and try to connect your hard drive to your PC/laptop.
If your hard drive is not spinning on startup, you should take it to a professional to see it through.
6. Repair the seized spindle motor
A platter swap is usually conducted when the spindle or motor is damaged on a hard disk. This procedure is quite complicated, and we would not recommend that you try it out by yourself.
The best thing to do is to get your hard disk to a professional to perform a platter swap.
If you feel confident and want to learn more about platter swap, proceed at your own risk of data loss. Various online videos can teach you how to do it and get rid of the hard disk spinning issue.
7. Get professional help
Sometimes, the best way to solve a hard drive that spins then stops is to take it to a professional. This is because you might risk losing all of your data while attempting various fixing methods.
If you don’t want to risk it, go to service and let them fix up your hard disk. If your hard disk can’t be fixed, you can still retrieve the precious data from it. However, it will cost you a bit, depending on how severely damaged the hard disk is.
F. A. Q.
How to recover data from a hard drive?
Various online tools can help you recover data from a hard drive. In most cases, not all files can be retrieved. However, specific tools will allow you to view which files you can save.
How long does a hard drive last?
Backblaze conducted a study and analyzed the failure rates of over 25,000 running hard drives and concluded in their findings that a hard drive might last between 3 to 5 years on average.
Various factors influence a hard disk’s lifespan, including environment, brand, size, and type.
Are SSD hard disks better than HDD?
HDDs are known for their durability. However, they lack processing speed and power efficiency.
SSDs, on the other hand, are much faster than HDDs, but they are pricier and might have a shorter lifespan.
The best hard disk type depends on your needs and what you are willing to sacrifice.