Hard Drive Data Recovery from Physical Damage

Generally speaking, hard drives are pretty resistant when handled and stored correctly. However, because they contain moving parts, they can be susceptible to physical damage when they’re dropped, knocked or simply when they reach the end of their lifespan.

One of the most common causes of physical data loss is at head assembly level, which is the fastest moving and most delicate part of the hard disk drive. In older hard drives, physical damage from the spindle was common, but is seen less now because of how far HDD technology has advanced. The hard drive’s heads hover a hair’s width above over the platter, and if the drive is subjected to physical shock, it can damage the platter and cause data loss. This is known as a head crash and is probably the most common physical hard drive problem we see.

Hard disk drives are also in danger of being physically damaged as a result of power surges. Because hard drives are not able to sustain more voltage than they were made to, if there’s a power surge, there’s a good chance the internal electronics will fry. Hard drive data recovery from a drive physically damaged by a power surge can be incredibly difficult and time-consuming, as because it can render the PCB board unusable, the chips need to be replaced to get it powered up again. This is a complicated process that can involve advanced electronic soldering work.

Another common physical problem we see is water damage – it goes without saying that water and electronics don’t mix! In order to equalise pressure inside the HDD, they have a breathing hole. So even if the drive is only sipped into water for a split second, some water will be let in. This probably won’t cause much of a problem, but if an HDD is submerged for an extended period of time, it becomes increasingly difficult to recover data. Time is on your side – remove it from the water as soon as possible. This might sound counterintuitive, but don’t try and dry a water damaged hard disk drive. This includes leaving it outside in the sun, using a hairdryer, or putting it in an airing cupboard. Exposure to heat like this will only reduce the chance of a successful data recovery.

Data Recovery