HDD SATA port melted - advice?

So it looks like a dodgy SATA cable has melted over the port on my Toshiba 8TB HDD.

Amazingly, I’ve managed to get all the plots off it

I don’t think warranty will cover this type of physical damage. Should I continue to use the drive or attempt to replace the port?

(Port doesn’t seem to be over heating at present)

Carefully use an Xacto knife and scrap off the other burnt plastic off. Since that is the power connect and the drive spins up. What caused it to melt? The data port is the small connector.

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You must have had this power from ‘not a PC’. A PC PS would (should) shut down a short such as this immediately and never allow this as far as I’m aware.

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I recently had the same burn on the sata port of an SSD. After smelling something awful I saw a small fireball about 2cm in size through the window of the case and killed the power immediately. In my case it was a cheap molex->sata adapter that caused the issue.

Technically you could replace the drive circuit board with a matching one, but it’ll probably be cheaper just to buy another drive. The sata power cable should be discarded also IMO.

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He could send the drive to me, so I can tinker…

Thanks everyone - I’m not sure what caused it - new 800W gold rated PSU

Have a total of 12 SATA drives powered (daisy chained). Power draw should not have been excessive and as Fuzeguy says, I would have thought the PSU would not allow this

I wonder if it was an improper connection which created a brief voltage gradient but will confess to not being too knowledgable in this area

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Nothing creates panic in a chia farmer quite like rising smoke!

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How many drives do you have connected to each power cable from the power supply?

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If you look at SATA pinout, the first three pins from the right should be 3.3V. The next three pins are ground. My understanding is that both of those groups are ganged (connected together), as the assumption is that power needed exceeds capabilities of a single pin.

With that said, 3.3V is rather never needed, actually if you are using Molex to SATA power cable, that voltage is missing altogether (3.3V is on orange wire, and Molex doesn’t have it).

As those pins are usually not used (yes, some WD use one for signaling, so just voltage without any Amps), the expectation should be that there is not enough power to melt those pins.

If all that is correct, you may as well clean / cut off those pins, as they are really not needed, and continue using the drive. At least, the first three pins are 3.3V, so safe to be removed. Although, maybe don’t be too aggressive with removing the next pins (ground), as those may be needed (maybe you can somehow salvage pins 5 & 6). There are a couple more ground pins there (10 and 12), but maybe just two is not good enough (there are 2 pins for both 12V and 5V, so that would imply that also 4 ground pins are needed, although the connector could be overspeced).

Although, the question remains what really caused that meltdown. Those connectors are rather tight, so it would be rather hard to shift them to get ground and third (from the edge) 3.3V pins overlap. As most likely Toshiba is not using that voltage, that rather points to a problem either with your power cables or your power supply. So, I would for sure cut the orange cable off from those cables, just to make sure that even if your PSU is acting up, no distorted 3.3V is being delivered to those connectors. Probably, you need to check all those SATA power cables, as well as your PSU.

I would still talk to Toshiba about getting an RMA. This is not a mechanical damage due to some extra force. But if they reject it blaming the PSU or cables, nothing you can do.




So, cutting off that orange cable off should stop the problem on other drives, if the issue was with either PSU or cables.

Although, as you mentioned that you daisy chain those power connectors, maybe you have just too long chain (I would not have more than 4-5 drives on one cable).

Cut that orange wire off the connector

Thanks everyone - as ever, we have an incredibly helpful community here.

With the help of this forum, I’ve learned more about electronics & hardware, not to mention the software/programming side of things that I ever thought possible starting out with Chia

(Only have four drives per cable btw). Will try the RMA initially and see how I get on.

If it were me I would just clean the connector.

If you can’t return the drive, a sort of bodge would be to cut a connector off a spare sata extension cable and solder the 4 wires straight onto the pins, effectively giving a new connector to reconnect to.

Although people have said to just clean off the burnt stuff, the damage may cause a bad connection and it will overheat again.


The three pins are not used by the drive so there is no bad connection issue. Of all the people that may read this only maybe 4 people that can solder, which is still not necessary. The question would be where did the power to that drive come from a daisy chain? I would not reuse that connection to power the drive. And I would check if any other connections had some corrosion on the power connector pins.


I would second that the best approach (if RMA will be no go) is to look into soldering that new connector. Although, I have not seen the board from the connector side, so it may be a challenge for most people, so we also agree here that this route may not be for everyone.

The second option is to cleanup that melted connector. However, we may have problems with ground pins. Yes, the first three pins can be cut off (all three are for 3.3V, so not needed at all) to not disturb the connection. Also, the orange cord should be gone (just in case, and don’t cut the red one, as that is 5V).

Kind of zooming on the second picture, it looks like there was a short between pins 3 (3.3V) and 4 (ground) (was there a tension on the cable?). So, pin 4 is a goner and should be removed. It is hard to say whether pin 5 (ground) is damaged, but most likely it is (melted plastic, not so much copper). It would be really good if pin 6 (ground) could be salvaged. That would leave the drive with 3 or maybe 4 ground pins (pin 11 is optional, so not sure whether it can be counted as working ground).

We can assume that if those 5V and 12V pins are duplicated, we need the same amount of ground pins, and we have 6 of those total, but only 3-4 ground pins. Although, I think that max 5V kicks in before max 12V is present (5v goes to the board and stepper, and max is at the boot; the board once settles down powers spindle, so this is the sequence we should see). So, maybe those 3-4 ground pins will do the job. Also, the max power time is rather short, so once running, the power drops by 2x-3x, giving more headroom on those ground pins.

Also, that power connector is designed for drives that potentially more power, plus has to have some headroom.

Still, there is a concern that those salvaged pins may have bias on the connector side, making the whole connector less reliable - more prone to plastic melting, but not really shorting.

Based on that, I would get the soldering iron first. If that is not an option, I would clean up those pins, and use it as is. I would for sure cut that 3.3V cable, and potentially test the PSU, whether it will be tripped on 3.3V shorts (as @Fuzeguy stated, PSU should act first and not let this short burn those pins).

By the way, I would also ask Toshiba (in case they refuse RMA it) whether they could provide the board or sell it. Toshiba is far behind Seagate and WD, so may consider that to make customer at least not fully disappointed.

I would also sit for some time on this drive (if not used), as the next Toshiba may have mechanical failures, as such can be the board donor to this one.

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12 HDDs is definitely too many on one daisy chain power cable. Each HDD should have max current for 12V & 5V listed on the front label of the HDD so you can make some napkin calculations once you gather some other specs for the wire used in your cable. For example per info on my Exos X16 16TB it uses +5VDC 0.90A and +12VDC 0.72A which is likely the max current used during HDD startup. Now looking at the SATA power connector it is likely using 18awg wire or at least let’s hope your daisy chain uses it. Figuring out how much amperage the wire can handle is difficult as we likely do not know the exact mix of copper in the wire and depending if it’s a solid copper or stranded wire (very likely here) as well as operating temperature the maximum current will be different. Let’s assume it is a stranded wire as that will be the most likely case here per this stranded 18awg may only handle 7A @ 12V depending on manufacturer specs. Now back to the napkin math, if I look at power usage on 12V line with 12 Exos 16 HDDs as an example that would be 12 x 0.72 = 8.64A. This is why you will not see more than ~5 SATA power connectors on a single cable provided with your PSU and likely these aftermarket cables are much lower quality.


Thanks - I should clarify - I usually have about 12 drives in total drawing from PSU but that is over three primary PSU to SATA cables - usually max 4 or 5 drives per cable.

In this case only 4 drives were attached

I do agree the power calculations are difficult - I struggle to figure out what the theoretical maximum could be. I assume the power just wouldn’t be sufficient to power the drives if this was exceeded rather than the PSU or drives being damaged?

If you had 4-5 HDDs connected from PSU on a single cable then this should not have happened and likely HDD power connector developed a short either on the HDD side or molex connector on the cable. If HDD is still under warranty you may be able to get it swapped via RMA process. It is possible that SATA power cable had a manufacturing fault which lead to the short so check with your PSU manufacturer if they can send you a replacement cable or replacement PSU if non-modular. I only had cables starting to melt once and that was over a long period of time (few years) on a higher end GPU as these can pull a lot of power. PSU manufacturer (Seasonic) replaced the entire PSU and cables for me so kudos to them.

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