Platter crash on an IBM Death Star

Last week we had a hard drive crash on an IBM Death Star which was in one of the Virgo servers. I had not had a chance to migrate that machine yet to TSM at the time of the crash, and was asked to see if we could determine the cause of the crash, as well as to determine if it would be possible to recover any of the data on the drive.

Yesterday, on April 21st 2003, we finally had the opportunity to open up the drive and determine the extent of the failure. This is a documentary of what we found.

The first thing I noticed was that a blue ooze had seeped out of the bottom of the drive. At this point I was concerned that some of the goo had possibly oozed into the drive housing and onto the platters.

Here is a closeup shot of the drive with the blue goo.

The first step was to remove the screws on the drive lid. I suspect this voided the warranty, but we were on a mission.

I had to visit a few different people before I finally found a set of torx screwdrivers in size 8. (note to self: purchase a torx 8 screwdriver from sears).

The lid came right off. The first thing we noticed was that there was a large amount of magnetic dust stuck on the lid of the drive. I wiped my finger in one place just to verify that this was not a part of the original manufacture process.

I wondered where all of that dust came from, and then I saw the platters. That's odd, I've never seen see through platters before.

After popping out the first platter I realized that I was correct. The drive platter was now see through. It appears that the head crash scrubbed the drive so clean that the magnetic substrate has been wiped clean off the platters.

After removing all of the platters from the unit, I noticed that there sure was a large amount of dust inside of the drive housing.

Here's another close-up of the inside of the drive housing. I had wiped my finger on the inside of the housing before shooting this picture.

The damage wasn't limited to just one or two platters. All five of the platters received some level of surface wiping.

Well, that's it for the report. I've never seen a drive fail in this way, and every person I've showed the platters to has been equally perplexed.

Ken Sallot, April 22, 2003