Hard Drive Recovery after a Lightning Strike

Power surges can cause massive complications for any electronic device – especially hard drives, and particularly if they’re in operation. Here’s what happens to your hard drive when lightning strikes.

Hard drives need a power supply to function, but unlike other electronic devices, a power outage or small power surge can cause a lot of damage. The average lightning bolt contains around a billion volts and between 10,000 and 200,000 amperes of current. By comparison, the average hard drive printed circuit board (PCB) can barely take much more than static electricity. If even a small fluctuation can be devastating – imagine how much worse a power surge from a lightning bolt would be. The PCB in your hard drive controls the flow of power and data between the drive’s components and your computer, and without it, data is inaccessible. An increase in voltage can short out or even burn the PCB, turning your hard drive into what is basically nothing more than a lump of metal. If you’re using a surge protector to protect your electronic devices from sudden power surges, your drive could still become damaged from a lightning bolt. Surge protectors aren’t designed to handle surges that big; they’re more suited to dealing with the tiny power surges your home might see on a regular basis. If the lightning strike is far away, most of the current will probably have dissipated by the time it reaches your home – but a close strike could hit your hard drive with the full force.

You can identify a hard drive that has been damaged by lightning by looking for two main symptoms. Firstly, your hard drive won’t spin when you power up your machine, or if it’s an external hard drive, when you connect it to your PC. Your hard drive’s platters are powered by the spindle motor, which is powered via the PCB; if that’s fried, you won’t be able to power up the drive. Secondly, clicking or beeping coming from your hard drive could be indicative of a power cut that occurred while the drive was in operation. A sudden loss of power – very common during a thunderstorm – could cause your hard drive’s read/write heads to crash onto the platters below. If you experience either of these symptoms, don’t attempt to undertake data recovery yourself. While there’s lots of great free data recovery programs out there, they won’t help you here. Contact a professional data recovery specialist immediately.

Our hard drive data recovery team are experienced in dealing with drives that have suffered damage due to power surges or sudden power outages – get in touch now for a free, no-obligation quote to see if we can help recover your data.

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