Why Can't I Re-Use The Drive If It Has Had A Head Swap?

​Day to day here at R3, lots of head swaps are done on jobs that we have in with us. When a drive requires a head swap it means that the read/write heads that are in the drive currently are either failing or have failed. Every hard drive will fail at some point, whether it's due to it being dropped or it's an age related issue, or even an overheating issue, all drives ultimately will fail.

But when a head swap is done, technically the drive is then in a working condition. However, it is not in a stable condition, all drives that have had a head swap require to be monitored as the engineers don't know how well the drive/heads will react to having a foreign part being used instead of the original. Furthermore not all head swaps work, even though the technicians who match the parts are efficient. For instance they can get a perfectly matching donor that in all most every aspect matches the original drive, but then after opening the drive the heads inside are not always compatible and will not work no matter what the engineers do.

Hard Drive After Head Swap

When a head swap does work on the other hand the engineers can have full control over the drive; how fast it reads, the option to disable certain heads, the list goes on. As a user this is impossible to do which again is another reason why a drive that's had a head swap cannot just be simply put back into a laptop for example. Also in some circumstances the engineers may have to disable certain read/write heads in the drive, this is normally because the surface that the head is reading is incredible damaged and is slowing down the cloning speed. After the good surfaces are cloned the engineers go back to the damaged areas of the drive and read them as slow as possible as this is one of the only ways damaged areas of the drive can be recovered.

In short when a drive has a head swap it is not in a stable condition like it was when it was first manufactured. However it is in a stable enough state for our expert engineers to get the data of the drive for the customer.

​If you have a drive that is making a clicking noise and you think it is mechanically failed get in contact with us here at R3. ​Talk to our data recovery technicians at 0800 999 3282 ​and get ​immediate help and advice.

How To Identify RAID Devices

Synology RAID storage device

Modern storage devices come in many forms from simple USB devices that can be transported around in your pocket all the way up to network attached devices that sit next to your router or in your office accessible from your network or over the internet.

This is fine until you need data recovery and you are asked the question "is it a single hard drive or RAID device.." obviously this effects the cost of recovery.

Identifying these devices isn’t always straight forward but I hope this goes some way to explain the difference.

First of all there are a handful of vendors that regularly make multidisc RAID backup devices:

Buffalo, LaCie, NetGear and Gstore to name a few;

These devices can be large and have options on the rear of the unit for safe or large storage which is a giveaway that it’s a multidisc RAID device. The unit is heavy and bulky with lights on the front to indicate disc activity also may have the facility to remove the hard drives to upgrade the storage capacity in the future and also hints that it may be RAID.

Remember if all else fails just a simple Google search on the model will bring up the manufactures details and help guide you through some of the questions you may be asked by the data recovery company.

If we know this it can sometimes make the engineers lives easier as some manufacturers will tell you on their websites the parameters fo the model you may have. This could possibly save hours o time trying different parameters and configs and you could have your data back faster than you thought.

R3 Data Recovery is real lab that deals with real disasters each an every day. If you have RAID that has failed or any data storage device, we are the people to contact. Call us today on 0800 999 3282 for immediate help and assistance.

What Goes Into a Nand Read?

When a USB memory stick becomes unresponsive and a simple soldering iron repair doesn’t produce positive results then we have another recovery option called a nand read.

This method of recovery is very complex and involves several stages each very dependent on its proceeding stage.

Stage 1 is the removal of the nand chips. The number and style of nand chips varies with manufacturer, the chips must be unsoldered paying attention not to damage the delicate pins and then cleaned in an ultrasonic bath to remove flux residues.

Stage 2 is making dumps of the chip content. The data must be read from each nand chip, to be entered into software. This involves setting correct parameters for dump number, page sizes and any timings unique to the nand chip. This may have to be repeated if too many errors are detected at the end of the reading process and the settings tweaked.

Stage 3 involves reassembly of dumps. Once all the dumps are made they can be entered into software to start the long process of recreating what the microcontroller did when in charge on the USB device. Getting the data to line up within the dumps is a complex task involving a Xor pattern with many parameters to change that unfortunately isn’t automated. Once this process has been completed successfully the integrity of the data is checked and if good copied off... Stage 3 may have to be repeated several times to get good data.

If you'd like to learn more or speak directly with our engineers, please call us at 0800 999 3282

nand read

What's a HDD - Basic Description Of A Mechanical Hard Drive

The Basics of Hard Drives

A hard disk drive is a computer device that allows data to be stored permanently. A hard drive (HDD), stores data even when it is powered down making it non-volatile, an example of volatile memory would be RAM which does lose data when it is powered down.

Parts Of The Hard Disk Drive

  • ​​​​Read/write head(s) - Just as the name suggests the heads are the physical part of the disk that writes data to the platter surface, reads the data already written to the platters or deletes the data on the platters.
  • Actuator arm - The actuator arm is the part of the disk which holds the read write heads.
  • Case/chassis - The chassis is the metal casing which contains all the internal parts of the disk as well and holding the external circuit board.
  • Spindle - For mechanical hard disks the spindle holds the platters and allows them to spin at high speed.
  • Platter(s) - The platters are the disks contained within the hard disk normally made using aluminium or in some cases glass that contains a ferrous surface which holds magnetic charge which is how the data is stored on them.
  • Circuit board - A printed circuit board which contains chips and other electronic components which control the hard drive as well as the interface that connects it to a computer.

How Do They Save Data?

Data is written to a hard disk in the form if a magnetic signal in the surface of the platters, platters are broken down to specific areas.

How Does It Connect To The Computer?

Hard drives connect to a computer using a bus through an interface most often IDE or SATA although there are other interfaces such as SCSI and Fibre Channel.

R3 Data Recovery is real lab that deals with real disasters each an every day. If you have any sort of problem with a hard drive or any data storage device, we are the people to contact. Call us today on 0800 999 3282 for immediate help and assistance.

What's A Monolith?

This is a term used to describe a method of construction that encapsulates the electronic components in resin during manufacture; this resin then solidifies to form a solid in-assessable plastic block with just the gold connections visible.

This provides a barrier from dust and moisture and protects the delicate electronics but also provide a more robust device to make the casing thinner and therefore cheaper to manufacture.

The usual techniques used for recovery become severely reduced with very few cheap recovery options available.

R3 Monolith

What are Your Chances for a Successful Data Recovery?

Western Digital 2TB no heads

Here at R3 Data Recovery we recover from all types of storage devices from USBs and hard drives to massive servers containing 10's to 100's of hard drives. But when our customers call us many of them ask the same question: "What are the chances of my data being recoverable?".

Now with this question there isn't a definite answer over the phone. The answer will only be found out once the device has arrived at our lab. The only thing we can do is to get you, the customer to give the best description as possible to one of our sales members so that can give you some sort of idea of the failure.

Also, we strongly recommend that once the drive has failed you do not do anything with it. Constantly powering it on and off can cause serious damage inside making the situation much worse and making the data harder to get back. The less you do to try and get the drive working the better situation the drive will be in when it arrives with us.

Even with logical recoveries, even though the drive hasn't failed the less you do the better. Because the more you research and the more software you download creates a higher chance that the data you deleted has now been overwritten and is gone.

So, before you lose everything get in contact with us by giving us a ring on 0800 999 3282 or filling out the online diagnostics form. Our technicians will be able to give you a free over the phone quote and assessment.

How To Package Your Hard Drive Before Sending To a Data Recovery Lab

Every week at R3 Data Recovery there are many hard drives delivered for recovery.

Each drive can have different faults, generally they are mechanical or media degradation.

In the hurry to get the drive into the R3 lab for recovery to begin and the lost data to be recovered, the last thing on the mind of a customer is how adequately they should package the drive.

This sometimes can be a fatal and costly thing to overlook.

A drive with a fault such as media degradation can turn into a mechanical fault.

This can happen by neglecting something as simple as wrapping the drive up in a few layers of bubble wrap. Or packaging the hard drive without a cardboard box. Many drives over the course of a year are delivered to the lab in jiffy bags fit only for a USB stick at best. Or in extreme cases wrapped in a single sheet of newspaper inside a plastic bag from a supermarket.

This may seem outlandish but is in fact more common than you would believe. And even before the hard drive has arrived at the R3 lab for diagnosis, its chances of recovery has been drastically reduced.

All that is needed to ensure that your hard drive has a healthy and fair chance of recovery is to take a little extra care and thought, and package your hard drive securely. Use an anti-static bag for internal drives or ones removed from enclosures, use a generous but not extravagant amount of bubble wrap and make sure the hard drive is not free to move around inside its package.

Following these simple guidelines can make more of a difference than you realise. And allow the engineers at R3 Data Recovery an improved chance to recover the hard drive.

Ultimately this is what everyone involved wants.

If you'd like to learn more or speak directly with our engineers, please call us at 0800 999 3282

Why packaging is so important
Hard disk in bubble wrap
Hard drive in a card box

Dirty Shutdown Explained

The term “a dirty shutdown” does not necessarily cause loss of data, but it can make access to some of not all data impossible without the help of specialist data recovery hardware and experience.

Many drives that come in for recovery are often in a failed state because of a power glitch. In the case of a system drive a dirty shutdown and cause a slight head crash or with SSD corrupt the controller.

Many times it will result in a drive asking to be formatted. But the symptom is actually not one where a “software” recovery should be used. Dust or dirt on a drive although dirty in real sense does not necessarily mean the storage platters on HDD or NAND chip memory banks are affected by dust or dirt at the physical level, but at the sector level it can cause bad blocks, bad sectors and file corruption.

Any storage device from Internal SATA, SCSI and SAS to external drives (HDD, SSD, USB, CF, SD and NAS) can be affected by an abrupt disconnect of power and require data recovery. The term degraded drive or running in a degraded state is often used but can encompass various faults from electronic , firmware, storage media bad sectors and corrupt file systems to service area module damage and lost RAID members.

In the case of servers, SAN (storage area networks) a power failure can affect databases exchange EDB and SQL  even inside a VM /VHD or Lun and the term dirty shutdown can apply to the corruption or loss of tables or data within the database or virtual volume, virtual machine or virtual drive.

So if you have a dirty shutdown and lose access to critical data R3 can often restore all lost data, repair damaged files or corrupt virtual machines and virtual disks as well as recovering the physical disk.