Data Recovery following Firmware Failure

In order for a hard drive to operate, it needs a firmware. Without it, data will be inaccessible – but still physically stored on the platters.

You should think of a hard drive’s firmware as something of an operating system. Firmware is both necessary for read/write operations, but also accessing the data in the first place. Written to a hard drive’s magnetic platters in an area called the system area, firmware is made up of data that is responsible for different functions of the drive. Some of these data modules are also responsible for repairing other modules in the event that they become corrupted.

If your hard drive’s firmware is damaged to the point where you can’t even get it to be recognised by your machine, you will need to consult a professional data recovery specialist in order to get your data back. However, there are some tell-tale signs that your drive’s firmware is damaged, with the drive itself still operational. The most common symptom that your firmware is damaged is your drive running slow, with slow read/write speeds and general slow operations. In addition to being slow, your drive may also be making tapping or clicking noises, although this could also be indicative of a physical fault such as a head crash.

Firmware failure likelihood can vary depending on the manufacturer of the drive, for example Seagate and Wester Digital drives are notorious for suffering from firmware issues. Failure can occur for a number of reasons, some caused by physical damage. Damage to the platters, in particular the service area where the firmware is written to, can render data unrecoverable. This is one of the reasons to immediately power down your drive and take it to a data recovery lab if you suspect a physical fault such as a head crash or motor failure.

In order to ascertain whether a hard drive has suffered from firmware failure, specialist tools that only a professional data recovery specialist will have access to are required. Furthermore, expert knowledge and skills are required in order for the data recovery to be successful.

Data Recovery