Data Recovery from a Dropped Hard Drive

A dropped hard drive, whether it’s an internal HDD or external HDD, is one of the most common problems we see in the data recovery lab.

A common phrase our data recovery team hear is “I’ve dropped my hard drive a few feet, and now it’s making a clicking noise and won’t power up, is data recovery possible?”. There is no simple answer – it depends on what kind of damage was sustained when the hard disk drive was dropped whether data recovery is possible. If the hard drive is dropped when it is powered down, then the chances of a successful data recovery tend to be higher due to the read/write heads being “parked”. The heads might become bent, which sounds ominous in terms of achieving a successful data recovery – but it’s not as had as it sounds. Because the heads weren’t on the platters at the time of the fall, there’s less chance of the platters having being damaged in the fall – and your hard drive’s platters are where your data is kept. Just don’t power up your drive or you could hamper the chances of a successful data recovery!

So what about dropping a drive that’s powered up? Well, that bodes very differently for data recovery. The tiny read/write heads, located on the incredibly sensitive actuator arms, read and write data to the magnetic platters in your hard disk drive. These heads never come into direct contact with the platters, and hover a fraction of a millimetre above them; it’s essentially the width of a hair. Heads that are stuck to the platters, known as stiction, can make data recovery very difficult.

What how do our data recovery engineers recover data from a hard drive that has been dropped? Firstly, the hard drive is taken by the data recovery technicians into our Class 100 clean room where it is opened in controlled conditions to analyse the extent of the damage. Next, our data recovery engineers will either source a replacement head from our extensive library of spare parts, or externally source one in the rare case there isn’t one available. The donor drives need to be exact for the data recovery to be successful.

It’s important to remember that not all drives that are dropped suffer catastrophic damage that requires professional data recovery teams to fix – you may get lucky. We would advise to keep hard drives in safe spaces, away from small children. But if you do have the misfortune of dropping a hard drive that has failed, contact Data Recovery Specialists for a free, no-obligation data recovery quote and file listing. Our data recovery team work on dropped hard drives all the time and have years of combined experience. 

Data Recovery