Why You Should Avoid Data Recovery at Home

Because of our reliance on data, it’s inevitable that everyone will experience data loss at some point in their lives. Free data recovery at home might be tempting, but this can be highly dangerous, and we’ve seen some tragic cases of permanent data loss in the data recovery lab.

A quick Google search will bring up dozens of guides and tutorials on how to undertake data recovery from the comfort of your own home. We’d absolutely advise against this, as you’ll only make the problem worse, and jeopardise further data recovery attempts. Physical hard drive faults can normally be diagnosed by a clicking noise emanating from within the drive, possibly caused by a knock or drop. The hard drive might not even be recognised by the operating system, or if it is, there might be no files displaying. Hard drives are not designed to be opened at home; they are houses in a protective case to ensure airborne particles don’t come into contact with the magnetic platters where the data is stored. These tiny particles of dust can stick to the platters, which can cause the read/write heads to stick, causing damage and potentially erasing your data, making it inaccessible even to a data recovery specialist. Many people think DIY data recovery will be a walk in the park, and casually unscrew the back off their hard drive, often scratching the platters by mistake. In the case of physical hard drive problems like head crashes, you need to leave it to a data recovery specialist, who will open the hard drive in a contaminant-free clean room environment. Undertaking data recovery in clean room allows repair work to be carried out by trained experts with no risk of any dust particles coming into contact with the platters.

Another common physical fault is water damage, and it’s important that you act fast. At best, your drive might be fine, but at worst, it might be dead, and your data lost. While there’s a good chance the drive itself won’t be usable again, you might be able to get your data back via data recovery. The most important thing is not to delay attending to your water-damaged drive – don’t wait until tomorrow! The longer your hard drive is wet, the more likely that water could seep further into the drive and make data recovery impossible. It might be tempting, but you shouldn’t use a hair dryer to try and try the hard drive out - heat can corrupt data. Place the hard drive in an airtight bag, in a slightly warm place like an airing cupboard, and leave it dry naturally overnight. Once the hard drive is dry, take it to a professional data recovery specialist.

Data Recovery Specialists work on all hard drives in a Class 100 Clean Room – meaning the chance of a successful data recovery is high if the physical damage isn’t too badly damaged. Our data recovery technicians are trained to deal with complex scenarios involving physical damage to media. If you have data that has been accidentally deleted, or a storage device that's been formatted, you can try using free data recovery software to get your data back. This type of data recovery is generally safer to undertake at home, providing you install the software on a seperate device. 

Data Recovery