Hard drives are very delicate and are easy to damage, which is a good reason why you should have multiple sources of backup so that you never lose your personal data. Drives can be damaged but are generally repairable, for example when a job gets sent to us at R3, nine times out of ten we can get the drive into some form of working state, even if it’s for a few minutes or hours before the heads eventually die.
For a drive to be unrecoverable, it has to have sustained a certain amount of damage for it to be completely unrepairable.
Here are a few reasons as to why a drive can be deemed as unrecoverable:
- If a drive has too many scratches on the platters - It’s not always an issue if a drive has scratches on the platters providing there’s not too many, because if there are too many then it may affect the system head, this is especially common drives manufactured by Seagate. Ultimately if the system head can’t be read then there’s no way of accessing the data.
- If there is dust or a certain amount of contamination on the platters - If there is dust on the platters, or water, or anything that will contaminate the platters, then almost 100% of the time there is no way of recovering the data, since the heads are delicate and would be destroyed when powered up. Platters need to be clear of any contamination.
- If there are large and deep rings on the platters - This is not a common problem that we have as we don’t have may jobs that come in which have that particular issue, but if a drive has deep rings on the platters it is due to the heads digging into the platters when powered up. Normally you can tell when the heads are digging into the platters because there is a screeching noise coming from the drive. This problem normally occurs when the drive is dropped and powered up straight afterwards, in some cases again and again.
( Large, deep rings on the platters )
Hard Drives Declared Unrecoverable Still Have A Chance
Here at R3 Data Recovery, these days it is not very often we announce any type of device unrecoverable. Over the years technology has improved and our engineers have gained lots of experience, enough to deal with any failure of any device. However sometimes devices are that far past the recoverable stage we just have to say enough is enough and announce it unrecoverable (like mentioned earlier this is a rarity).
However, a few years back there wasn’t half as much technology and support for devices that we have access to at this present date, so a lot more devices were announced as unrecoverable as the technology and support just wasn’t there. Also, our donor stock was not as large as it is now. Our donor stock is what makes us one of the leading data recovery companies in the UK. The fact we can find out a drive has a mechanical failure, find a part, do the re-build and get the drive cloning again all in one day is pretty remarkable all because of our huge stock of donor drives and the experience our engineers have.
However, like said previously a few years ago this wasn’t the case. In this case for example, in 2013 a Hitachi drive came in (Model Number: IC35L120AVV207-1), the engineers diagnosed said drive and came to the conclusion that the drive needed a new set of read-write heads. So, we began looking for a matching donor parts for this particular drive, however no luck. Even out external suppliers did not have a matching drive in stock.
In situations like this now, the engineers would try and get the drive started by not using the damaged heads, however this requires experience and the correct hardware and software to do so. However, three years ago the technology and support wasn’t there for this particular drive. However now it is so it is possible that this drive may now be recoverable after all this time. At this point the drive is in the research and development stage, the customer wanted us to keep the drive to see if there was anything that we could do in the near future and it looks like we might be able to.