Instructables

Disassemble Seagate External Harddrive Enclosure

Picture of Disassemble Seagate External Harddrive Enclosure
This instructable is for the safe disassembly of Seagate 3.5-inch Pushbutton Backup External Hard Drives as seen here:

http://www.seagate.com/www/en-us/products/external/pushbutton_backup/

First of all, why would anyone want to take this thing apart? I personally love the design. It looks great, it's quiet, reliable, stackable, and portable. Sure, it needs an external power source, and it's becoming a bit large for today's external hard drive standards, but other than that, this thing is pretty well designed, IMO.

But for whatever reason, you want to open the enclosure up. After many exhaustive hours of research, I was surprised to find that there was absolutely no information on the web about taking this thing apart. I had imagined it to be a pretty prolific piece of hardware, but maybe I was wrong. Several people in forums told me it was impossible to take apart without breaking the enclosure, but that is simply not true. In fact, the internal design seems to even facilitate disassembly to a certain degree. Whether this was intended or not, I don't know. In any case, let's get started:

You will need:

Some sort of flat, sturdy tool like a flathead screwdriver
1 Phillips head screwdriver
1 2.4 m/m flathead screw driver OR 1 2.5 m/m Hex screwdriver OR 1 Torx screw bit
1 2.0 m/m flathead screwdriver OR 1 small Torx bit

Obviously, make sure you only work on the hard drive and enclosure while it's unplugged. Also, as is true with all computer electronics, you should try to maintain a non-static environment while working. Use proper safety precaution and go slow. If you get stuck, use the photos as references.

Finally, this WILL void your warranty.

(I apologize ahead of time for the dark photos)

Note: You might also read through the comments for additional help - there are a lot of good tips and insights which can further aid your disassembly.
 
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pbolding4 months ago

Torx Plus screws are used here (as noted by another commenter) and are also called pentalobe or Torx security. I am fairly sure these are TS10 though the screwdrivers I bought in a kit were not individually labelled.

Very useful post though.

gerlin4 years ago
Caution when installing a new drive in this external enclosure:
The drive-side of the metal box shield has some tabs that make contact with circuit board screws on the drive - a different drive may have board screws in different locations and you do not want the tabs contacting any circuitry.  The tabs are easily straightened inwards to avoid unwanted contact.
gerlin4 years ago
There are three slots just under the cover lip that lend access to the springy tabs.  A very slender screwdriver or a dental probe will reach them, just push slightly until you feel the release on each.
The four screws holding the inner case together were Torx size 10 on my case.
cmitch525 years ago
my hard drive had a pretty serious hiccup. after talking with some computer 'know-it-alls', i found the cheapest way to save some important files is by switching the hard drive from my laptop to the seagate hard drive, then extracting the documents that i need, before rebooting windows. this guide is making that possible, so thanks! all i'm waitin on now is the tool to get those damn tamper resistant screws to ship in
inst6665 years ago
Please change the title to a more accurate one: "Disassemble External Hard drive CASE". I was hoping to find a guide to disassembling a drive. I don't need the data. I simply want to see what goes on inside one.
MonkeyAgent (author)  inst6665 years ago
Good point, the title has been changed to more accurately reflect its purpose. For the actual drive disassemble, you will likely need a good Torx bit (or if you're not picky, a good hammer/thermite/drill bit for the screws), and probably a flat head (for prying this open/apart... you'll see). The visible screws holding the plating on are really your only obstacle to getting inside. Also, I'm assuming that you know doing so will void any warranty you have and will likely damage the drive beyond reasonable recovery. Other than that, the magnets are fun, but be careful not to get your fingers pinched ;-)
hynee6 years ago
I didn't need to remove any more Torx screws here, as noted by MightyYar on the intro page. The only Torx screws visible in this step are the 6 on the hard drive itself. Don't remove those unless you want to kill the HD!
MonkeyAgent (author)  hynee5 years ago
This must be due to differing revisions in the design, as mine definately had Torx in the enclosure itself. But as a general note, yes - NEVER REMOVE ANY SCREWS FROM THE HARD DRIVE ITSELF!
hynee6 years ago
I haven't seen any comments in this guide regarding HD compatibility. Mine came out with the Cable Select jumper selected (second from left), yours seems to have come out with Master (left-most jumper position). Trying all three of Master/Slave/Cable Select may help debug any problems.
MonkeyAgent (author)  hynee5 years ago
Once you've removed the hard drive from the enclosure, it should function the same as any other desktop internal hard drive - simply set the jumper to whichever setting you need (but definitely don't assume that the jumper will be a given setting).
StetsonJim5 years ago
The torx screws on my Seagate were 5 Point Security TORX PLUS screws, which require a special bit to remove. I drilled them out since I was abandoning the case anyway. However, if you want to see a photo of these screws with information on where to obtain the proper screw bits, check out:

http://www.gearhack.com/Forums/DisplayComments.php?file=Tool/Screwdriver_for_5-Point_Star_Screw.html
MonkeyAgent (author)  StetsonJim5 years ago
lol, I've used that solution with tricky screws before too - I just didn't have to with my enclosure as I had a strong bit I was able to wedge in the torx
LasVegas7 years ago
Do note that external enclosures that originally held drives smaller than 128GB (137GB Decimal) will likely not work properly with larger drives.
at least not without a firmware hack/upgrade/flash good catch though ;-)
For what it's worth, I upgraded my 300GB external to a 500GB external after the 300GB drive died, and everything seems to be fine. I've written and read every bit as a test. The replacement drive was also a Seagate. Oh, and I didn't have to take out any torx screws on the drive to get the sheetmetal off of my drive - it just had cutouts around the torx screws and everything popped free. The only torx screws that I had to deal with were the 4 big ones holding everything together. Thanks!
since you started out already over the 128GB hump, you should theoretically be able to pump in upto a 2TB harddrive, and still be ok.

Each drive will probably be similar, though revision changes do happen. Dissassembly is half the fun!

If it's already broken, the fear of breaking it is gone, so hack away! :-)

(blatent editing copy of http://www.dewassoc.com/kbase/hard_drives/hard_drive_size_barriers.htm)
In order to avoid previous disk barriers and limitations, other than those imposed by the operating systems themselves, today's hard drives no longer rely upon discrete geometry (specific cylinder, head and sector numbers) and instead use logical block addressing and a sector number. Unfortunately, even when we move away from bit addressing in favor of head and sector numbers, we still reach the limit of our ability to address all of the bits when taken together. Let's take a look at the ATA interface. There are 28 bits used for the sector number interface with the operating system, BIOS and the hard disk. This means a hard disk can have a maximum of 228 or 268,435,456 sectors of 512 bytes, placing the ATA interface maximum at 128 GiB or approximately 137.4 GB.

...

A few years ago a number of different proposals to expand ATA addressing from 28 bits to either 48 or 64 bits were made, and over those few years the committee examined each very closely. Either of these technology changes would permit huge drive sizes. The first to surface, however, was 48 bit addressing and delivered in the form of a hard drive at 160 GB by Maxtor. Using 48-bits like Maxtor takes drive sizes 100,000 times higher than current limits

...

While it is true that the ATA/ATAPI-6 standard defines a method to provide a total capacity for a device of 144 petabytes, the next limit will be imposed not by the ATA devices but by many of the popular operating systems in use today. This limit will be at 2.2 terabytes (2,200 gigabytes). This barrier exists because many of today's operating systems are based on 32-bit addressing. These operating systems include many flavors of Linux, Mac OS 9.x, and Windows 95, 98, ME, NT 4, 2000, and XP (Windows XP/64-bit also has the limit because of leveraged 32-bit code).
MightyYar6 years ago
First - thanks so much for posting this - you allowed me to take this thing apart without breaking it by showing me the guts! Let me add one thing: The clips on the lid are actually quite easy to disengage, because there are 3 access holes on the back of the unit (below the firewire/USB ports). If you push something skinny through them, biasing towards the cover, the little hooks will pop off provided that you pull on the cover a bit. Thanks again!
ninepound7 years ago
This is probably a very stupid question, but is this hard drive small enough to be used internally? I have a Seagate sitting right next to me that I never use, and it just so happens that my desktop hard drive completely and utterly failed. And from the pictures, they look to be about the same size. Same ports and everything. I guess a better question would be, how physically large is the barracuda drive?
it's a regular IDE drive...which means it's a 3.5" drive...same as the one in your desktop...so it will work in your desktop
Yeah.. I guess I should have read the last step. Whoops. Thanks.