Recovering a Samsung portable USB Hard Drive with fishing line?

I honestly thought this one would be straight forward. I have done so many of these that 99.8% of the time I can predict what I am going to hear or see when I open these. 

However, I was wrong :(

This turned into a very complicated but enjoyable recovery, lets have a look why this caused so much fuss... and yea thats a picture of me when I was 7.

Samsung HX-M101TGB

Samsung HX-M101TGB

Ok Standard stuff here, Samsung 1TB external USB3. These always suffer from a thing called stiction, (heads getting stuck) and the recovery rate is always very high.  

The position of the heads is a normal sight for this type of problem, however the little black thing sitting next to it is not a good sign. Its called a slider and as this drive has 4 heads and therefore 4 sliders the chances are that more than one slider has come off and went walkies. On the top platter thats fine and dandy, but where are the other 3? This is where you need to get creative. In its current state this drive is unrecoverable.

Lets start with the top one, I need to nick it just at the correct angle with enough force to move it but without creating any further damage to the top platter. This one was straight forward.

Top slider removed, surface looks clean. Now the hunt for the other 3

If I tilt the drive away from me and slowly rotate the disks I can see one slide stuck on the bottom platter ( both were actually there but I couldn't see the other one as it was reflecting.

This would be an easy job to write off as unrecoverable, you simply cannot recover this in its current state, then I remembered a conversation with another great data recovery guy about fashioning a non destructive device to fish them out. I came up with the bright idea to use thread but after a amazon search I eventually landed on .20mm fishing line (about the same height as the slider its self)

My fishing line came next day and after I had delt with all the other drives I needed to do I shut my lab and set about working out how I was going to do this. 

First lets get some dymo labels and make a lasso type thing

This looks perfect , But I still cant get right into between the platters at the right angle and I definitely dont know where the bottom slider is. So far I have only found 1 out of 4  

It was evident that the platters had to come out. ;)

Series of images using dymo labels again, they have just the right level of stickyness and you can manipulate them into shapes easily.

Now that the platters are out lets look on the bottom surface..

BINGO! 2 out of 4

Bottom one was not too big a deal once platters were out. Lets attack the middle ones

If I didn't have a solid plan, this would make me cry real tears. Least I have found them now. Lets see how good my lasso idea is.

Watch the bottom right of this short video and you can see the elusive slider fly out to safety.

Ok, well that went well. Now all is left is to put this back together , convert the PCB from USB3 to SATA and spin it up. You have seen me doing that before so here is the short version..

First spin up after platter and slider removal. All looking good so far

Currently extracting a 10GB Outlook PST file for the customer. I am over the moon with this result.

If you would like to talk to me personally about a recovery job you can do that here