Disassembling a Seagate Free Agent Desk 1TB

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78 thoughts on “Disassembling a Seagate Free Agent Desk 1TB

  1. The circuit borard on my seagate broke so I was wondering if you knew a site to but a replacement Board.

    1. Hey, I’m afraid not.

      Has the circuit board actually physically broken, or has one of the components blown?

      It seems like quite a few people buy the entire hard drive, but then remove the actual SATA drive and discard the casing and circuity, so look around for people who have done that, and approach them for their circuitry.

      Else I’ve always found E-bay a great place to find odds and ends.

      1. Note: Although the post above was flagged as spam, and does look kinda like spam (I’m still undecided), it seems to have some truth to it. That Cedar 3.5 USB REV1.4 is apparently used by Seagate in their external hard drives and replaceable parts can be obtained. I haven’t done much research, but it may be worth it to get yoru drive working again. A year late, but hey?

  2. Thanks for this photo essay, mine has more of a ‘base’ to stand it upright, but I’m hoping that the disassembly is similar.

    The drive is OK, unfortunately the cheap controller board is shot. A new 1TB drive with a dead controller board in >2 weeks, how pathetic Seagate.

    1. Mine also came with an optional base I can stand it upright with, but mine is situated in a precarious position, so would be a bit dangerous standing upright. If yours has a permanent base, and is black and orange, then is most likely the older model, there is a link in the top of my post which shows how to disassemble it, it is quite different from this unit.

      1. Mine is exactly like the said one in this walk through. The base is easy snap on-off kinda deal I also had the ‘pegs’ and didn’t know it. I think it keeps more cool with the stand.

        Also a slight addition on the last step (removing the drive from the circuit board) is to loosen or remove the screws that hold the circuit board down as this lets the board ‘tip’ up with the drive to clear the metal plate.

  3. BTW, folks may be interested to know that the plastic used for the case is QUITE PLIABLE, and resistant to breakage. Knowing that might make someone less uncomfortable as they get ready to jam a screwdriver into the joint! I too broke one small tab, but I’m expecting it will not be noticable after reassembly.

  4. nice. this helped me out a bunch. i will NEVER buy another seagate piece of crap. the first one i bought stopped working right before the recall, then the second one i got the usb connection on the back broke off, which is weird because ive only unplugged it maybe 3 times. dont buy seagate crap! lesson learned. thanks for the tips. cheers.

    1. That’s rather unfortunate, I’ve generally always been impressed with seagate HDDs and actually run my PC on an old 80GB PATA Seagate Barracuda which is still running strong after 7 years of constant use. and the 3/5 year warranty offered on their HDDs makes them a good choice as far as I’m concerned.

      1. Yeah…..that’s the way most modern “cheap” electronic things are: they either break immediately…..or run forever!!

  5. I took everything apart, and put the new drive in and tested it, its still making the same humming sound as it did before.. is there anything i can do to get the data back? it fell over one day, made some noises now its…hummmmm beeep..hummm. beep…. HELP!

    1. What exactly happened, I don’t understand. Because you say that it fell over and it sounds like you’ve replaced the drive?

  6. First of all, thank you very much for the instructions and I totally agree with Pete, Seagate is a useless crappy brand. I had my second one replaced the first one via guarantee because of weird ticking and clocking noises and it eventually stopped working and lost 1TB data (actually 931GB). When it started that noises I bought another hdd WD Elements 1,5TB but gone is gone. Never ever buy another Seagate again. As Pete said, lesson learned.

  7. Sorry forgot to write, the second one they gave me is brand new but something plastic is making noise in the case and also do not have white plastic thingy inserted to the sides of the hdd, instead they placed non-removable rubber pieces under the case also the white led is more brighter. I do not care whatever they do, it is crap.

  8. Thanks Gareth, very helpful. I was able to extract the drive and put it into my computer to verify it was u/s. Looks like I’ll be buying a new one, not Seagate though.

  9. Thanks for this! In my case I was upgrading from one of these Seagate units to a RAID array and wanted to make use of the drive. Your instructions were just the thing and the drive is now spinning away in its new home. One note: Removing the screws under the black rubber bumpers required me to use a pair of pliers; they were screwed on very tightly and I couldn’t start them turning with just a screwdriver.

    1. I’ve also noticed that they’re some times screwed on extremely tightly. You shouldn’t need to use pliers though, as long as you are using the correct size/type screwdriver, you can apply a large amount of torque on the screws.
      But glad this article could help.

  10. Thanks for this! I busted up the case I was working on doing this, but I was really only after the data. The USB connector on the case broke off the PCB when the drive fell off a desk (more like pulled to its death).

    1. My previous Seagate Freeagent was also pulled to it’s death as someone walked passed and there foot hooked the power cable, unfortunately I couldn’t recover anything from the HDD. Warranty was still kind enough to replace it though 🙂

  11. Thanks so much. My Seagate was also infested by ants over night and I laughed when I found the only answer to opening the case was by someone who had exactly the same problem. Thanks again

  12. The P/N 9ZC2AB-500 is white/silver, but didn’t have the first four screws you found. Also, it wasn’t necessary to remove the fourth rubber piece – I was able to remove the three that are exposed and then tilt the drive to disconnect it from the circuit board.

    Thanks for creating this page!

  13. very well written and excellent article!! Had one of the same drives as the articles author and am having to join the rest in the disassembly of this drive just for said purpose. except in my case the PCB board in mine has failed, and now requires a replacement. And as most companies in this portion of the peripheral industry have as policy “this is a non-customer replaceable part, so to keep proper warranty coverage, you need to perform data recovery services, then send in the whole drive for replacement.” Now its time for drive extraction and recovery with the help of this excellent article. And to anyone else that may run into this type of issue, I have worked for other industry leaders like Seagate, and it seems that in the case of external drive enclosures, the way a drive like this is supposed to fail (giving the customer some modicum of protection for their data) starting with either the power supply, or the PCB board the drive uses for power and communication. This way, if you hear your drive sounding like its surging, or spinning up and down without actually engaging the rest of the drive’s operation, this is indicative of one of those points failing. Hope my two cents in addition to this fine article helps those who need more info!

    Thanks again for a great page Gareth!!!

    1. I share the same thoughts about the article with Justin and thank you very much Gareth. I would also like to thank Justin and I have a question for him or everyone.

      All of a sudden tonight my Seagate stopped working, actually started to not to work. 2-3 hours ago, I simply plugged it in to electricity and it started to spin up as it always did. But after 2 seconds a click sound came from hdd and it spun down for a while and started to spin up again and the click sound etc… Its only doing this loop and the LED of the external doesn’t light up… And the PC doesn’t recognize the HDD actually it doesn’t realize that the HDD is connected.

      This external was working 2 days ago and since then it was sitting on the desk. Do you have any idea what could have happened and how can i restore my data? I really need the data, its not a problem if the external will be unusable/inoperable anymore…

      If i disassemble the external and get the HDD out, is it possible to connect the hdd to a PC via any type of cable? Or is there any other way to make this external to work?

      In some forum i read that some of this Seagate externals does not work because of the LED cable; when the LED cable unplugged from the circuit, externals start working… Is that possible?

      Thanks again, and I hope somebody can give me an answer that solves the problem.

      Sorry for the typos and grammatical errors…

      1. Hey

        You can try unplugging the LED. I can’t remember from when I took mine apart if it plugs into the PCBoard or if it’s actually soldered on. Inside the casing is just a standard SATAll HDD, which is fully compatible with 90% of current desktop computers.
        It sounds as if there may be somethign wrong with the drive itself, but it can’t hurt to just plug it straight into your PC.
        All you need is a standard SATA cable and your PSU should have extra power cables for the HDD.
        If you’re unsure what to do, you could probably take it to yoru local internet cafe or Computer shop and ask them to have a look.

        Regards, Gareth

      2. Hey Gareth,

        I took apart the HDD and unlucky me, the LED is soldered on. Then, I plugged it in to the PC but it keeps doing the same “loop” thing; this means the HDD is gone, right? Is there anything that i can do from this point, except giving the HDD to a data recovery center? Thank you again.

        Sincerely, Halil

      3. Yeah, unfortuanately I think so.. Not really sure what you can do about it. Should still be under warranty, but as for your data, you’ll have to speak to someone with more knowledge on the matter. I lost a few thousand photos when my last HDD crashed, wasn’t worth the cost of trying to recover it.

        Good luck.


  14. Thank you for the article,

    My first 1tb drive a purchased, failed on me full of my backups and had to change it within a month, now my second one is making the same clicking sound. I need to copy all my data before sending it back before the drive fails again. This article will help me a lot.

    Thank you

  15. Thanks for this, really useful.

    This seems like the best place I’ve found to pose another question. I was wondering if anyone has tried to put a larger drive in a Free Agent enclosure?
    I’ve been using a 500GB with my Mac as a Time Machine drive for a while now and am really pleased with it. Power saving is really good, as it only powers up to perform backup, then powers down again. Perfect.
    The only problem is I now have a 1TB HDD in my machine, so I need a bigger drive, and don’t have much money to spend. I also wouldn’t have any use for the 500GB drive if I was to buy a new Free Agent, so I would like to open up my Free Agent and put a new 1TB (or bigger!) HDD in in place of the 500GB one.
    Has anyone tried this, or know if it will work?

    1. I imagine you could put any size SATA hard drive in. I don’t know this for sure, but intend to purchase a 2TB in the next few months, and intend to put it into my case, as it’s not being used atm. I don’t know for sure that it will work though.

      1. That seems to be the consensus from the IT guys here. It SHOULD work.
        With 2TB drives now for around £75-£80, and a new Free Agent 2TB costing around £106 (inc. delvivery), it’s getting more difficult to decide what to do.
        However I back up my Time Machine drive on a monthly basis to 2 other drives (in rotation), so if I upgrade to 2TB, I actually have to buy 3 drives. So saving £90 overall does sound good.
        If I decide to upgrade I’ll be sure to post a reply with the results.

      2. Thanks, that would be great. I know when 100GB+ externals first came out, you couldn’t put more than 500GB HDDs in them, but I expect these Seagate enclosures should be fine up to at least 2TB

  16. Thank You Soooo much for this tutorial.
    First I didn’t know this could be done.
    Secondly My 1.5 tb was slowly getting hotter and hotter as time wore on. Between the interface and that damn sleep and speed up crap, it was slowing down my system.
    As soon as i mounted the drive in my case and booted up my win 7 and world of warcraft both sped up massively.
    It was causing my entire system to lag.
    Now it flies!

  17. My seagate 500gb desk power supply failed. I was able to open the enclosure and extract the drive itself, and I purchased a SATA/IDE to USB adapter. However, the connector on the drive is nowhere near the type with pins, it has a flat connector strip with metal strips instead of pins.. Any help out there?

    1. Hey Jonathan, I’m not a hundred percent sure what your adaptor looks like, do you perhaps have a link you can show which will help explain. I too have a SATA/IDE to USB adapter, it just requires a SATA cable to connect the adaptor to the HDD.

  18. Just wanted to say thanks for publishing this information. It just took me 5 mins to extract the HD.
    I started at the rear of the unit and found that it popped open much easier.

    I found that the housing is pathetic as it was not allowing my HD to cool properly. The temp was going way over the safe limit. So I was basically rescuing my drive.

    Thanks again.

  19. Awesome post and a great help in allowing me to add a new internal HDD to my system. Got a great deal on Black Friday through Micro Center. Can’t beat $50 for a 1TB HDD. Thanks for the efforts to post this thread. Much appreciated!

  20. Pingback: Is this possbile
  21. I recently purchased the exact same Seagate 1TB HDD as you disassembled. I plugged it in and it worked fine, i was able to transfer data and the Seagate manager software also worked well. My only complaint was that right from the start whenever i accessed the drive it clicked loudly. I thought it normal of the drive, that maybe it was just noisy. After reading about the click of death and seeing persons complaints about Seagate i am a bit worried.

    Currently it is running fine and completely operation. Is this clicking normal for the HDD? I have run the self check through Seagate manager and encountered no errors.

  22. Heads up…I just pulled the drive out per instructions. However, not any SATA drive will fit back in. The problem is the sharp angle on the circuit board near the connectors. Seagate’s connector block is a different dimension that WD. As I found out. WD SATA drives (that I have lying around the shop, at any rate) do not fit.

    Measure first before you buy a replacement drive –

    1. Hey, thanks for the info.
      I imagine if this is a problem, it shouldn’t be too difficult to rectify with an appropriately sharp object such as a knife?

  23. thank you for the instructions. Very helpful and worked. Was able to turn my external drive for my windows home server into an internal.

    1. This was easy-peaszy! Just be advised, you will risk dinging up the plastic at the seams. There’s no doubt. I tried being so careful but in the end I had to really ply the top cover off, knurling the edges as I worked around the perimeter. The case isn’t going to look nice in the end. But, that’s perfectly fine with me. A replacement enclosure was $20. If you’ve suffered a dead one of these, chances are it’s a power supply issue and you’re well advised not wasting your time and effort replacing anything in that Seagate case anyway.

      Hats off, Greg!


  24. But where can I get a replacement enclosure for the busted data port plug. The HHD works fine, the cords and poer supply are good, I can’t solder worth a darn and repair shops want too much. I just need a case.

    1. Most of your local stores should stock some form of external HDD casing. here is an example on ebay. The power supply and USB cable really aren’t worth much, and not worth the effort trying to find a specific replacement.

  25. Woah.. great article!! My Freeagent desk 1TB just suddenly died for no reason. Following the instructions from here, I managed to open the casing without damaginging it, recover the HDD and pull the data and wipe it before putting it altogether and sending to Seagate for RMA. Fortunately it’s still under warranty – so I am waiting for replacement/repair.

    Thanks, mate, You’ve saved my life!

  26. Can you tell me

    info about the power supply that can with the Seagate 1500GB Hard Drive PN 9ZC2A8-501

    Voltage and mA

  27. Thank You for the instructions. I think I should be doing this to my HDD which went non responsive two days ago after serving a couple of years. It is not getting recognised at the USB port. Elsewhere on the net some suggested that if the HDD is OK and the problems lies only with the board it could be disassembled ( like you did) and used as any ordinary disk. But my motherboard supports only IDE. How should I go about this- assuming that HDD will be OK. Or should I just preserve it till I upgrade my system to SATA based one? I have huge data (backed up my RAW format photos taken during the last 5 years)now unable to access.
    Appreciate any help.



    1. Hey Vijjy

      If you are wanting to use it with your current computer you can buy PCI cards which give you SATA slots for US$10-15. Otherwise you can often buy external casings for a similar price. Else, as you suggested, just keep it till you upgrade your PC next.


  28. would anyone have a solution to getting the drive working if its making a clicking sound? i just need it to work once so i can get what i can off it

  29. Bro.. What about the power supply or the ac adaptor.. I dont know if its broken.. I droped it and when I pluged it.. It didn’t work.. Need help plss.. I’m realy worried about my hard drive all of my work file are in it..


    1. Hey Rem

      If the hard drive fell, I’m sorry to say that it’s most likely damaged. It’s possible that the AC adaptor is damaged, but if the HDD stopped working only after it fell, that’s most likely the problem. If you have a multi(/volt)meter you can check if the AC adaptor is still working.

      To check if it’s the HDD or not, you can disassemble the case and put the HDD into a desktop computer to test if it still works.

      All the best.

  30. I recently had a situation where I couldn’t get the disc to spin up and STAY spun up (quite audible). I found your site and used it to dismantle the package and get at the drive. I invested in a USB-to-IDE/SATA adapter and was able to access the drive with no problem. Seems as though Seagate’s cheapy interface board had crapped out.

    Wanted to say I appreciate having found this page, as it confirmed for me the possibility of running the drive independent of their interface.

    1. Hey
      Glad you found this helpful. Pretty much any external or portable hard drive available these days is just a conventional HDD with an adaptor and casing around it, so what you’ve done is always an option.

  31. I am not sure if this was asked/answered but my mini usb port on the hard drive fell into the casing. I’m new-ish with computer repair type stuff but if I take it apart as you’ve shown how would I be able to fix this? I have had this hard drive for close to 7 years and it has EVERYTHING on it (1TB hard drive). If it can be fixed and put back into its case that would be great. If not how can I get the data off the drive and onto a new drive?

    1. Hey Kitty

      The best would be to take the hard drive out and put it into a desktop computer, or other external hard drive casing. I wouldn’t risk tryign to resolder your USB plug onto the board.


  32. WOW you are the MAN! Followed your instructions and freed my 1 TB HDD from the case, fired up my desktop PC and BAM! I got all my files back. Even though the thread is a couple of years old it worked like a charm. BTW my Seagate 1TB Free Agent is @ 2 years old. My Free Agent has been freed. WEEEE 🙂

  33. Thank you……I only have about 460 gig of MUSIC files, and mine died. I opened it up per your instructions, and lo and behold, the solder joints snapped off on the data port. going to solder it back up, minimally, or just order the circuit board and replace the old one here. Either way, I believe I can save this. Thank you.

  34. Thanks very much for your excellent article. I used it and liberated 2x 1TB Seagte drives perfectly. Cheers fro Sydney Australia

  35. I also want to thank Gareth for an excellent post.

    In case anyone is interested, I removed a failed 1Tb drive and replaced it with a 2Tb drive. It worked great, no problems,

  36. My Seagate FreeAgent 1.5T board was messing up. I took it out and plugged into another computer to see if I could get my data off. I then purchased another Seagate (mistake) Expansion 4TB. I then got the bright idea (not!) of switching the two drives and see if I could get the data off the 1.5T. When I plugged the USB into my laptop it could read that the drive was there, but no files. It said that I needed to format the drive. When I switched the two back to their original boards, I got the same deal. The drive showed up, but said it needed to be formatted.

    I did a little research and it seems that the ROM on the controller boards messes up if you unplug them. I called Seagate. They had no idea what was wrong and said they could get my data back for $499. Sounds like planned breakage to me. They suggested that I could try their recovery software. You download it and run it. If it reads your drive, you pay them $99. to get the license key to restore the data. I found a buddy with the software already and ran the 4TB. It showed that there was data there, but couldn’t retrieve it. The software then suggested that I send it to Seagate and pay the $499. This after I’ve already bought the drive, spent $99 to find problem. What a scam! Glad I didn’t pay the $99.

    So, my question/request is, how can I get the damned things working again? What is the deal with the ROM. You’d think that when the original drive was replaced that it should work. Neither drive will work when plugged into another computer. The board on the 1.5 is shot, I think. I’ve been looking for a replacement. Is there anything that I need to be aware of or beware of? Besides trusting Seagate?

    A fix would be great.

    1. Hey Becky, sorry to hear about all your troubles. Your problems seem different to what I’ve experienced. Generally when the external chip packs up, the hard drive is still accessible if you plug it directly into a computer.
      Sorry I can’t help.

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