I recently had to tear apart a Lacie external harddrive to figure out why it had failed. Fortunately it wasn’t all too hard, but I could not find any other websites really supporting this particular approach I needed. In this guide I will mainly outline the process to diagnose for a faulty power supply, but will also touch up on complete disassembly and what to do if it should be some other common problem.
*Follow this guide at your own risk. I will not be held responsible for failed repairs using this guide. You perform these actions at your own risk. If you feel uncomfortable doing so then seek out another party to service it for you.*
*Updated 10/28/2010: Blue wire in my case was 12v. Always double check with a multimeter, as similar models may be different*
One thing I assumed when I had first started diagnosing the unit was the fact that it was a harddrive that had failed. I was wrong. I even tore apart the entire unit (which I will go into detail on later if you need to get inside) to find the source before I had reconsidered the problem origin. Before you even do anything, look for the following symptoms:
- You hear the harddrives spin up, but immediately spin down, repeated.
- No hard drive spin up noise /w just the blue LED lighting up.
- The AC adapter generating a clicking or fairly audible buzzing noise. Don’t mistake this noise for the hard drives! Listen closely.
If any of those fit, chances are you’re in need of a new power supply. However getting one can be quite a hassle and many people often *need* the data off quickly rather than going through a long bureaucratic process if warranty still applies or if you are looking to get a replacement shipped. Here’s what I call the ‘Mike Method’ way of getting it done:
AC Adapter Fix (Mike Method)
First lets take a look at the AC Adapter specifications because were going to need to tear it apart and provide a power source similar to what it provides.
If this is fried, there is no use for this, however the goal here is to cut the cable, which goes from this to the Lacie drive, and provide a source of 12v and 5v from the end of which the Adapter used to reside. Take the cable that comes out of this adapter (that goes towards the harddrive) and cut it. Make sure this adapter is not plugged in. You’ll want to cut it close to the adapter. Once done, strip the end and separate the three wires inside. I had blue, red, and black. IIRC, blue is 5v, and the red is 12v. You can SHOULD double check the wires by testing with a multimeter by checking resistance from the pins to the ends of the cables to determine the voltage of each wire. Swapping 5 and 12v supplies on a harddrive will toast it.
To provide power, I bet most of us are reading this on a desktop, why not use the PSU which fortunately provides voltages at 12 and 5? A common/cheap part is a Molex splitter. Any computer repair shop or computer store should sell these for cheap. There are many other molex cables that will work, so long as you have a female molex connector you can make it work. I used a cable that went from a larger molex connector to a single connector for a floppy drive. Basically you’re looking for something of this sort with a female end. That female end will be grafted onto the end of the harddrive power cord.
Cut off the male end (again, leave lots of cable on the female end to work with). If you end up using the splitter, you will have two sets of wires, one is not needed so snip them off or just tie the same colours together at the end. It’s time to match up the two cables! Use the chart below. Because the Molex has four cables, and the ac adapter only has three, on the Molex side, put both grounds together. Once complete, open your computer case, and simply connect it to any spare Male molex connector. Make sure there are no shorts in your wiring before doing so! It’s best to power down the system before connecting the Molex.
|AC Adapter Cable||Molex Cable|
|Black (Gnd)||Black (Gnd) (Merge both together)|
If the problem is not with the AC Adapter, and you need to open it up, follow the below guide:
Lacie Big Disk Disassembly
Quite straight forward, heres a quick picture by picture play of how it’s done.
On the rear there are two screws, one on the bottom and one under the Warranty seal.
If you’re feeling sneaky, just rotate the plate counter-clockwise once the bottom screw is off to avoid the seal.
Then slide out the unit, face first.
Here’s the insides. To start removal of the harddrives flip it over and remove the mounting screws
Remove the six screws to dislodge the drives.
Disconnect the power and IDE cables. They are free! If you need to remove the controller board, they are simple:
Remove the two upper screws, and lift straight up.
Remove the single screw for the power board, and it’ll slide out away from the faceplate.
For your reference, Pin 1 is towards the USB connector. I had disconnected this and it had no visible markings to determine the correct way.
Additional Troubleshooting Questions:
Harddrive Failure: There is one other problem I can see happening to most other people. A harddrive failure. If one of the harddrives go down, chances are all your data is lost. This particular external harddrive stores data in a RAID-0 form. Meaning half the data is stored on one drive and half on the other. This doesn’t mean one file on one side, and another file completely on the other. It means a single file likely exists 50% on either side. So if a complete failure happens, you’ll have to find some way to revive the fallen drive.
Component Failure: If the controller board is shot, but the harddrives are fine. The easiest solution would be to swap the drives into another working unit and copy the data off. If you can find a similar unit online, I would order one. You can’t just plop these drives into a desktop (even if it supports IDE raid). The controller on the desktop is different than the one in the external case and won’t recognize the RAID specifications. It is doable, but the only way I can think of would be to purchase RAID rebuilding software and a quick glance at some on Google reveal prices around $100. Since I have not gone through such an experience I can’t help much on what is best. Just know that there is still hope if this is the case!
Additional Resources: *new!*