Hard Drive Modding: How to Void Your Warranty in 20 Minutes or Less
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Hard drives are the penultimate component of any computer. Where else would you store all those important files like your music, your videos, all your various data files and programs? With the sizes and speeds of hard drives climbing exponentially year after year it was about time I modded one.
Since Iíd never modded a hard drive before, I wasnít going to take my brand new 10,000 RPM Raptor out my system and start messing with it. Instead I pulled out an old Maxtor 80 GB 7200 rpm that was well out of its warranty and was only being used sporadically as an external hard drive.
This internal hard drive, like all others, has several components to it. Modern Hard Disk Drives (as they are more accurately called) with the Integrated Drive Electronics (IDE) interface began appearing in the late 80ís as a replacement to older interface methods. Inside the hard drive itself, there are several platters that store the magnetized data. Traditionally hard drive platters are produced from a light aluminum alloy and coated with a magnetizable material like ferrite, applied as a liquid and spun to evenly coat the surface of the platters. Newer hard drive platters are often made from ceramics or glass because they can be made thinner and are able to resist heat more efficiently than aluminum ones. Most drives have at least two platters but higher capacity drives can have much more than that.
The platters are separated by disks and mounted to a central rotating spindle that turns all the platters in unison. The motor that powers the spindle is either built directly into the spindle or mounted beneath it. This motor is used to spin the platters at a constant rate of speed and incorporates a feedback loop to maintain that the correct speed is held. The read / write heads do exactly as they are described; they read and write data to the platters. When not in use the read / write heads rest on the platters but the action of spinning the platters creates air pressure raising the read / write heads off the platters. The space between platters is so minute that even a dust particle or finger print could disable the spin. With this in mind, do not mod the drive in a windy or dusty room and do not mod a hard drive that contains anything important that you canít lose. This is your only warning.
All the read / write heads are attached to a single actuator arm that moves the heads around the platter. Modern hard disk drives have a voice coil actuator, which controls the movement of the coil towards or away a preset magnet based on the amount of air flowing through it.
Understanding this and knowing that this is an operation for only the most foolhardy, it was time to start cutting.
Warning: Performing Modifications on your hard drive like the one described further in this article is not recommended by the manufacturer and can end up permanently damaging the hard drive. Modifications such as these are not authorized or recommended by the manufacturer and the manufacturer of the modded hard drive is under no responsibility to repair or replace the drive under warranty. Do not mod a hard drive that you cannot afford to lose.
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