1TB Lacie Big Disk Problem and Data Recovery

by Harlan Yee on November 5th, 2009

I’ve had my Lacie Big Disk 1TB external USB drive for about 2 years now. It’s nice and very solidly built with a large capacity to store my files. All my video projects are archived onto this drive for later retrieval. It’s been working like any other external drive until now. I should’ve seen the warning signs!

Lacie Big Disc Data Recovery 7

 

The Problem

A few times, I wasn’t able to get the drive to mount to the computer but for the most part, no problems. Then all of a sudden, I wasn’t able to mount the drive at all! It wasn’t until I tried several times with different computers that I started to think… What if I can’t get the info off of this drive? All that data lost! Projects that need to be revisited would have to be rebuilt from scratch! The drive was spinning up as usual but it just wouldn’t mount. I knew the warranty was expired so I took off the sticker that said “Warranty Void if Removed” and opened it it up. This drive has two 500GB drives mounted together. I took one out and put it into another hard drive enclosure in hopes of extracting the data one drive at a time but I couldn’t get a single drive to mount either. Later I found out that these drives are striped together and only work as a pair in the Lacie enclosure. So I did a bit of searching on the internet and found a solution. Not sure if it would work but worth a try at this point.

The Solution

I took the drive home and opened up the Lacie Big Disk enclosure to reveal the two drives. From what I learned searching the internet was that it was a power supply problem either in the AC adaptor or something inside the circuit board that wasn’t feeeding the drives enough power. I disconnected the internal power cables to the two Lacie drives.

Lacie Big Disc Data Recovery 2

Lacie Big Disc Data Recovery 6

I then opened up an old Gateway desktop computer and strung out the extra hard drive power cables and plugged them into the drives on the Big Disk. Then I connected the Lacie drive to my other computer via USB. I powered up the Gateway computer and a few seconds later, I saw the Lacie Big Disk mount onto my Dell PC.

 Lacie Big Disc Data Recovery 5

This worked! I proceeded to connect my Maxtor OneTouch II external drive to the Dell and transferred everything off of the Lacie. I was able to save my data with this process. Now the Lacie Big Disk is a heavy paperweight that gathers dust never to be used again.

Conclusion

At this time, I’ve decided not to buy any more Lacie drives because before this disk failure, the design departments I’ve worked with have had at least 2 of the same Lacie drives fail and they weren’t even that old. From seeing their problems, I knew I should’ve backed up this drive but I waited too long and I paid the consequence. At least I got my data back. I know hard drives can fail but I’ve see too many Lacie’s fail to trust them. I have other external drives that I use more than this one that are still functioning. Is your Lacie drive is still working for you?

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16 Comments
  1. aris permalink

    My 5 year old 250GB Lacie also half-failed. It would spin up halfway then stall, then again and again until at some point it would actually mount. My research shows that it might be a power supply unit (PSU) issue and the drives are actually perfectly healthy.

    The Lacie PSUs tend to have the pin-out of the plug on it. Maybe you should cut and keep the cable part which is between the Lacie and the brick and wire that to the corresponding voltages on another PSU.

    I will let you know how my own conversion went.

  2. aris permalink

    yeay! copied 90GB of stuff over no problem.

  3. Harlan Yee permalink

    Hi aris,

    Glad you were able to get your files copied over. I may try to play around with the Lacie one of these days and swap out the power cords. It’s a great feeling to be able to get files back that would’ve otherwise been lost.

  4. Mike permalink

    Harlan….

    I’m in the same boat. My 1TB Big Disk Extreme with triple interface seems to have gone south. The big blue light does not go on, and Lacie has sent me two new PS’s they glow green until plugged in and then flash. No noise out of the drive, which is under warranty. I’m waiting for D2 Recovery to call me back with a quote (LOL) but I know it’ll probably cost way more than the drive itself. If that’s the case, I’m going to ask Lacie to send me a new drive, and keep the old one if they let me because you seemed to suceed. I could try that at least, but the last thing I want is to send a potentially recoverable drive (with my personal data on it) to some total strangers. I’d rather drive my truck over it!

    Mike

  5. Harlan Yee permalink

    Hi Mike,

    Good luck on getting your data off your drive. When I wrote this post, it was the first time an external drive had died on me and of course, my stomach just sank when I couldn’t access my files! On my drive though, the blue light did light up when I plugged it in but it never was able to mount to my computer until I opened it up and powered the Lacie internal drives with a secondary computer power supply.

  6. Mike permalink

    Harlan… It may not even work, but let me pick your brain for a sec. Lacie tells me the drive is no longer offered, nor are parts available, so my only path to recovery is either a $600 minimum (thats the quote from D2 Recovery) or your method. If my drive doesn’t even light up, do you think there is any chance I can cobble up a PS and make it work, and does that mean that the Lacie controller board is bypassed? Apparently Lacie will replace the drive with a newer version, but honestly I’m a bit tainted on Lacie at this point. I have a 1TB Fantom Green Drive and it’s been bulletproof for 15 months now. I just ordered/received a 2TB Fantom but I got the USB version not the triple interface. Anyway, when you got the two drives to spin up, is the data split between the two drives or is it (in the straight 1TB mode) set up so it fills one drive then the next?

    Thanks for the help.

    Mike

  7. Harlan Yee permalink

    From what I learned from my experience, the data is shared between the two drives in some sort of RAID configuration. In other words, they both have to be operating at the same time. So I don’t think it fills one drive and then the next. I tried pulling one drive out and placing it in another single drive enclosure and it didn’t work. If memory serves, my Lacie drive was powered completely by 2nd PC power supply during my recovery. I didn’t use the AC adapter (even though it is shown as connected in my pictures).

    My method may or may not work for you. I’m definitely not an expert at this! Hopefully you’ll find a method to get your data back!

  8. Mike permalink

    Harlan… I just bought a supposedly perfect, working identical drive. What I’m going to try and do is open both of them, then swap drives and see if I can get it to work that way. Having an identical controller board, maybe I can find out if there is a component or two that is dead and possibly replaceable. I’ve messed with small PCBs before, so what do I have to loose?

    I’ll let you know how it works out.

    Mike

  9. Harlan Yee permalink

    Mike, sounds like a great plan. Hope it works and you recover your data!

  10. Max permalink

    Hi Harlan!
    Just want to thank you so much for having posted this!
    Had this issue one month ago and I was really worried (more than 800Gb of data on the disk!!!). Never had problem with the disk, but when I had a look in Internet I discovered that this was a common issue… I should have checked before ;-)
    Anyway thanks to your solution I was able to recuperate ALL my data in one night.
    Now I have stored them in a 2Tb Iomega Prestige Desktop Hard Drive mirrored on another one (double backup).
    Support from Lacie was really lousy!!! I ordered a new PSU to see if the problem was there, but it didn’t work. I was ready to pay to get a new board as the 2 disk are perfectly working but they didn’t even reply although they well know that it’s a common issue of their unit…
    2 Conclusions:
    – The power of Internet
    – No more Lacie products
    Thanks again, Max

  11. Harlan Yee permalink

    Hi Max,

    I’m glad you were able to recover your data! Gives me a good feeling when I post something that really helps people solve a problem. I also agree with your 2 conclusions! Thanks for the comment!

  12. Rassy permalink

    Hi Harlan,
    I suspect that the controller of my Lacie 1TB is out.
    Would you sell me your unit?
    I will try to put my disks on it.

  13. Harlan Yee permalink

    Hi Rassy,

    I’d love to sell it to you but I can’t. It’s a drive I use (or rather used) but I don’t own it. Sorry about that! Hopefully you can find one somewhere!

  14. Henry Chan permalink

    I am glad to read your post. My Lacie died too, wish I have the knowledge to rip the hard drives out like you. I agree I lost confidence on Lacie, they died on me too many time and their support sucks.

  15. Harlan Yee permalink

    Hi Henry, sorry to hear about your Lacie drive. If you still have it, you could try to recover the data like I did. It may or may not work for you depending on what is wrong with the drive. When I get a chance, I will try to add some links to this post for some cheap hard drive adapters that you can use if you don’t have a second computer with at least 2 extra power connections.

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