Getting Back Your Eggs

Maxtor Central Axis Egg StorageI
Maxtor Central Axis Egg Storage

I’ve always been fairly paranoid about my data storage,  so I don’t know why I felt so inclined to trust Maxtor’s Central Axis Data Server with all my files.   Maybe it was because I was impressed with the notion that that tiny cute little box held a Terabyte of storage and a Linux server, and would be replacing a huge rackmount server and a RAID array of disk drives that I’d been using without a hitch for years.  It was fairly inexpensive, fairly easy to set up, didn’t cost much, and for the past 6 months seemed to be fairly reliable.  It even has a USB port that you can plug another Terabyte drive into and schedule automatic backups or even mirroring, but (ahem) I never quite got around to that.  So I should first take full responsibility for knowingly putting all my eggs in one basket.

As you might imagine, everything was fine until the thing’s Ethernet port quit working.  The unit powers up and boots and gives healthy status indications, but the ethernet port is dead, deaf, and dumb.   And I can’t get to any of my precious data eggs!

Not much you can do about that.   It was beyond its warranty, and besides, near as I can tell if you want to try to get some satisfaction from Maxtor – um, they sold out to Seagate, didn’t they?

Of course when you find yourself in this situation and go googling for dead Maxtor Central Axis you find out that you’re Not Alone.  But never fear, the blogosphere has the answer, right?

Sure, just remove the drive and stick it in a Linux box and voila, there’s your data!  Right!?

Well, I’m here to tell you, it ain’t that easy!

Its amazing what modern manufacturing can accomplish these days – molded plastic pieces that fit together so seamlessly you can’t figure out how they ever put it together, much less how to get it apart!  But I finally did it.   And early on I realized there were so many other people with the same complaint, I’d better take some pictures of how I did it to help the next poor person out who as one blogger put it “trusted this thing way too much.”  So here is how to do it, but be warned:

If you’re not familiar with tools or taking delicate hardware apart, don’t try this!

If you don’t have a working Linux box with a spare  SATA drive connection, don’t try this!

If you don’t know how to mount a drive on a Linux box and copy the contents to another drive, don’t try this!

And if your Maxtor Central Axis is still under warranty, this will obviously void your warranty!

So I’ve warned you!  Don’t email me crying about how you destroyed all your precious data or ruined the box forever!

If you’re still with me, lets get started.  There are no visible screws or even seams on this monolithic black box.  The only sign of a possible entry point is a little hole on the bottom that says tampering with it will void your warranty.   There is a tiny phillips-head screw underneath there.  Scratch off the label and unscrew it.  There is another screw to the right of that that you have to dig into the plastic to get at.  Unscrew that too.  Obviously the drive needs to be handled with care, but I tried really hard to keep all the parts and not damage the rest if the system.  I don’t know why, because it doesn’t work and probably never will again.

This will void your warranty!
This will void your warranty!

Next, this will let you pry up the bottom and realize that there are 2 more screws under the front rubber foot.  So you have to remove that and unscrew those.

remove the front rubber foot and remove 2 more screws
remove the front rubber foot and remove 2 more screws

With the bottom plate removed you now can see 4 more screws that need to come out.

remove 4 more screws
remove 4 more screws

Now this part is tricky.  Even though the inner assembly is no longer attached to the outer box, getting it out is a bitch!  And if you care about the little front panel light indicator and the back panel on/off switch you need to do this very carefully!   You basically have to pry the inner assembly out of the case!

pry out the inner assembly first from the front then from the rear
pry out the inner assembly first from the front then from the rear

I found I had to use a butter-knife to unstick the inner assembly from the left and right sides of the case before it would finally slide out.

the metal foil was stuck to the inside of the case
the metal foil was stuck to the inside of the case

This thing was made to go together and never be taken apart.  Hmmmm.  What does that tell you?

slide it out
slide it out

It took me a long time to find the seam to the plastic piece that surrounds the metal box.  Once you find it, remove the side piece then the rest of it.

finding this is not easy, nearly perfect fit!
finding this is not easy, nearly perfect fit!

Once you’ve got the box out of the plastic you need to remove more screws, including one thats under the copper foil tape

remove more screws
remove more screws

Remove the rubber shock-mounts.   Now you’ve got to literally pry the metal case open.  CAREFULLY!

watch out for the on-off switch!
watch out for the on-off switch!

Unplug the on-off switch and then gently pry the board away from the drive edge connectors.

careful of the front indicator board and rear on/off switch
careful of the front indicator board and rear on/off switch

Yes, thats the whole thing except for the drive!

Linux storage server less drive (dead ethernet!)
Linux storage server less drive (dead ethernet!)

NOW FINALLY you can slide the drive out, stick it in a Linux box, mount it and get at your precious data!

Good Luck!
Good Luck!

Now, back up your data, or at least mirror this drive so that you don’t get white-knuckles sweating out your precious data files again!

14 thoughts on “Getting Back Your Eggs”

  1. Thank you for posting these instructions. I was able to take my MCA apart and use the Seagate Barracuda inside to convert into a external HDD using a Seagate Backup Plus case.

  2. Thank you so much for this… I had about 200 gigs of data on my MCA. I could have sent mine to Maxtor for warranty but I’d MUCH rather have my data back. I popped the drive into a spare Western Digital USB enclosure and used Explore2FS to transfer the files within Windows to another external hard drive.

  3. Thanks for this, but I fail to understand why a linux mounting seems ‘required’ (mind you, I relenquished my geekhood a couple years ago). Should not one be able to plug it into any compatible interface, OS essentially a nonfactor? It’s formatted NTFS iirc

    Gotta tear into mine soon, and really hoping to recover data w/o having to build a linux box for the purpose. 8

  4. I have taken the drive out and saved the OS to a image file. let me know if you want me to get you the image. I will tell you the partition sizes (because you need the exact same size partitions) and you can try this out. Please advise

  5. Thank you so much for this post. I still broke the case but at least I kept the drive intact. Now off to try and recover my data. Hope that works because the Central Axis didn’t even boot anymore so I’m not sure if it’s a failure of the case or of the actual drive…

  6. Got mine apart, thanks to you. Found a Seagate drive inside. Now I’m off to learn how to mount it in Linux. What a pain it was to get this apart, thank you!!

  7. Thanks for this article! I recently had to tear open my failed Central Axis to wipe the drive before sending it back to Seagate. The pics and description helped a lot.

  8. Vantec makes some drive docks you might consider. Has both USB & eSATA
    interfaces on mine, and comes with cables and eSATA adapter. Just plug a raw naked drive in the dock and you’re good to go. Push a button and it lifts out. Need more space? Just buy another drive. I’m happy with mine.

  9. Bless your freaking heart. I was about to go mad before finding this guide on Google image search. Should be number one result for “Maxtor central axis opened”.
    Anyway you deserve a Nobel peace prize for keeping my sanity in check.

  10. Thanks so much for these detailed instructions (AND photos!). I’ve posted a link to this page on the Maxtor site under a question about removing the drive. Hopefully others will have less of a problem in finding your wonderful instructions than I did.

    Nolan

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