Is Data Recovery Possible Following a Power Surge?

Some electronic devices can withstand a power surge, and certainly a minor surge is unlikely to cause problems, but hard drives can get damaged.

Power surges can be lethal for hard drives. As mechanical devices with moving parts, hard drives require a power supply to function. These include the spindle motor, spinning magnetic platters, and read/write heads. However, these are not typically the primary concern when it comes to power surges and data recovery. The danger lies in the printed circuit board (PCB), an incredibly delicate device that is particularly vulnerable from spikes in voltage, which can damage the intricate circuitry.

Without the PCB, when you next attempt to power up your hard drive, none of the internal components will receive any power – the platters won’t spin, and the read/write heads on the actuator arm won’t move. At this point, your hard drive is a lump of metal, however, your data is still physically stored on it, it’s just inaccessible without professional data recovery tools.

It isn’t just hard disk drives that are susceptible to damage from power surges. In solid-state drives, which store data on NAND flash chips, the PCB also converts the raw data into a form your operating system can recognise. So, a power surge can be equally devastating for an SSD, and data recovery can be even more difficult when working with flash-based devices.

The PCB is vital for the running of both hard disk drives and solid-state drives, acting as somewhat of an intermediary between the data stored on it and your operating system. The good news, however, is that data recovery following a power surge is possible, but it’s one of the more challenging scenarios our data recovery team are faced with. Diagnosing damage caused by a power surge can be done in a couple of ways. Sometimes, the power surge will have completely fried your PCB, and your hard drive won’t power up at all. However, sometimes, you might find that you can get things moving, before everything grinds to a halt.

If you believe your hard drive has been damaged by a sudden power surge, get in touch with a data recovery specialist if you want a chance of seeing your data again. It might sound like an easy task – you simply find a compatible PCB and swap it over, right? Not exactly, and as mentioned above, replacing a PCB is one of the more challenging jobs our data recovery team work on. On your drive’s PCB is something called a ROM chip, which is unique to that particular drive. In addition to sourcing a compatible donor PCB, our data recovery team then have to carefully remove the ROM chip from the original drive and install it in the new one. In short, it’s difficult, but not impossible.

Data Recovery