Data Recovery at Home - Is it Worth it?

Although it might seem like it can’t get any worse, DIY data recovery, in most circumstances, should never be undertaken – here’s why.

Our reliance on data combined with all the world’s knowledge at our fingertips thanks to the internet means that our data recovery team are seeing more and more devices that have been damaged due to DIY data recovery. Free data recovery from the comfort of your own home might be tempting, but we’ve seen hard drives that have only suffered from minor faults be damaged so much, that even our professional data recovery team haven’t been able to recover any data. It might be tempting to try data recovery yourself – the internet will bring up hundreds of results. But in most circumstances, this will make the chances of a successful data recovery by a professional even more difficult, or even impossible.

Physical hard drive faults – like a head crash or motor failure – can typically be identified by a scratching or grinding noise emanating from the hard drive’s chassis. With the correct donor parts, these faults are typically quite easy to overcome, and our hard data recovery team has a 90% success rate. But the internet will tell you that repairing a hard drive that has suffered from a head crash is easy to repair as long as you have compatible donor parts. What DIY data recovery tutorials on the internet won’t tell you is that hard drives should never be opened in a normal environment, like the one in your home. The magnetic platters in the hard drive’s chassis are not, contrary to popular belief, contained within a vacuum – but they are assembled in an environment that contains few to zero particles in the air. Even a small particle of dust can cause a head crash, which is why our data recovery team work in our Class 100 Clean Room, a similar environment to that in which hard drives would be assembled in.

Water-damaged hard drives can also put your data at risk, more so if you attempt data recovery at home. While you definitely do need to dry your hard drive out as quickly as possible, do it naturally, with the only artificial head coming from a regular temperature, like an airing cupboard. Never, under any circumstance, apply direct head to a hard drive, wither from a hairdryer, outside in the sun, or any other source. This is something our data recovery team see so often, and it’s an unavoidable mistake. Place your wet hard drive into a sealed bag, and place it in a warm place overnight. When you think it’s dry, take care when powering up – tap water and floodwater can contain particles of sediment, which if they come in contact with the hard drive’s platters, could cause a head crash.

You should also exercise caution when using free data recovery software. While it certainly is possible – and indeed very easy – to undelete files from a hard drive, overuse of data recovery software could potentially overwrite your lost data. You should make sure your preferred data recovery software is already installed onto your machine in advance, and if it isn’t, install it onto a removable drive, like a USB flash drive.

Data Recovery