Hard Drive Recovery After a Head Crash

A very common physical hard drive recovery problem we see in the data recovery lab is the head crash. Caused by the hard drive’s read/write heads coming into contact with the platter, it was be potentially catastrophic for your data.

Inside your hard disk drive, your data is stored on a series of circular magnetic platters on a spindle, which rotates at incredibly fast speeds of up to 15,000 RPM. Your hard drive’s read/write heads – located on the tip of the actuator arm – are responsible for writing data in a series of 1s and 0s. The heads are located a fraction of a millimetre above the magnetic platter, and shouldn’t come into contact with it. Even a small knock can cause the heads to crash onto the magnetic platter, which can pose huge problems for hard drive recovery.

Generally, desktop PCs don’t get moved very frequently, so head crashes are less common. But hard drives in laptops or desktops that are moved while turned on are at risk of suffering a head crash. Head crashes are also very common in external USB hard drives, and their portability is both a blessing and a curse. Hard drive recovery isn’t impossible after a head crash, and it’s much easier than it once was. Prevention is better than cure, and Active Hard Drive Protection technology (AHDP) in newer hard drives can detect when a head crash is imminent, and move the read/write heads away from the hard drive’s platters. No technology can completely eliminate the chance of a head crash, though, so you should still be careful with your devices if you want to avoid a potentially hefty hard drive recovery bill.

Identifying a head crash can be difficult; a noise coming from your machine doesn’t necessarily mean it’s an issue with the hard drive. Nonetheless, if you do hear a clicking, ticking or scratching noise emanating from your machine, power it down immediately and investigate. It could simply be something stuck in the fan, making the problem sound much worse than it is. If it is the hard drive, however, you should immediately remove it from the machine and definitely do not power it up again; powering it up will only lessen the chances of a successful hard drive recovery.

Data Recovery Specialists deal with hard drives that have suffered head crashes on a daily basis – it’s probably the most common physical hard drive fault we see. Very often, it’s not through any fault of the owner – hard drives don’t last forever. Get in touch now for a free hard drive recovery quote. 

Hard Drive Recovery