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.
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.
With the bottom plate removed you now can see 4 more screws that need to come out.
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!
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.
This thing was made to go together and never be taken apart. Hmmmm. What does that tell you?
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.
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 the rubber shock-mounts. Now you’ve got to literally pry the metal case open. CAREFULLY!
Unplug the on-off switch and then gently pry the board away from the drive edge connectors.
Yes, thats the whole thing except for the drive!
NOW FINALLY you can slide the drive out, stick it in a Linux box, mount it and get at your precious data!
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!