From: Bob Matott
Besides the typical use of sys C: to transfer back the system files deleted during "housecleaning" by typical users, I've gotten lucky by turning the drive upside down and setting it on top of the power supply (which seemed to remove "a static charge" that had built up).
Also have used various Disk Manager packages to "talk" to drives with FAT/NTFS corruptions just to recover the data. If drives are being reformatted from an operating system that doesn't want to "fully go away" (can name a few!), the disk manager software has also worked in this scenario many times to get rid of the old and allow you to reformat with the new.
Of course, there's always the "drop it from 4-5" onto a flat hard surface" or "smack the side of the case with the flat of your hand" approaches. Believe it or not, both techniques have worked. Rumor has it that sometimes the heads "stick" to the platters during parking/cooldown.
From: Kenneth Lillemo
Sometimes a hard drive that has been running since nearly forever won't spin up after being shutdown for a while. This can be caused by the heads sticking to the platter. As a LAST resort, I will drop the drive onto a firm surface from approximately eight inches. Inevitably, this will solve the problem and the drive is useable long enough to remove the data. My Sys admin spouse gives me a funny look every time I do it but can't argue with the results.
From: Peter Tello
If the low level diagnostics fail, I declare it officially dead. At that point, I have nothing to lose, so I pull it out and over a thin carpet, drop it 6" squarely on all 4 sides, repeating this 2 or 3 times. I have approximately a 50 percent successful boot-up rate, usually enough to copy the data off and save my behind for not having it backed up in the first place.
From: TDC Tech
This is a one-time fix—long enough to revive HD to get data.
• Take the HD out of the computer and squarely drop it on the closed side of the drive (to your bench) with perhaps a little slam.
• This seems to free up the bearings long enough to copy data off of the hard drive. I have quite a bit of luck, but 90 percent of the time it only works once.