Data Replay Services

Computer Crime / Digital Discovery / CCTV Image Recovery / Computer Forensics

Help with a Broken Hard Drive & Training

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In this post I’ve printed a question that was sent to me by someone with a broken hard drive who needs the data recovering.

Computer Science Labs logoQuestion: “I have a 1tb Seagate external HDD which overnight started beeping and clicking and is now not visible from Windows. Ihave disconnected and reconnected power but it beeps and then powers down. The drive contains data I need recovering and I am seeking quotes for repair. Internet searches indicate that Seagate drives may have power issues or it could be a drive fault. Can you advise on a possible cost?”

Answer: Unfortunately the fault you have on your Seagate hard drive is nothing to do with power issues. The key issue you describe is that the hard drive started beeping and clicking. This tells me the you disk has developed a problem with it’s r/w heads, and this is confirmed by your observation that the drive is no longer visible in Windows.

A r/w head fault is a significant failure in a hard drive and means that the data can no longer be read from the hard drive. This operation is one of the processes performed when the hard drive functions and the failure is the reason why the hard drive is no longer visible in Windows. To develop that, the hard drive would not be visible in any operating system and in fact will not be visible in the computer’s BIOS (see an explanation of ‘BIOS’ at http://whatis.techtarget.com/definition/BIOS-basic-input-output-system).

Repair of the hard drive is possible but this type of repair is beyond the capabilities of most data recovery services. This is because in order to repair a hard drive with a r/w head fault it’s necessary to strip the hard drive down to component level and swap out the broken heads. This is a very complex task, which relies on identical spare parts having to be found from a ‘donor’ hard drive that must be an exact match of the broken one.

Once the faulty r/w heads from the broken drive have been removed and replaced with working ones the whole hard drive then needs to be re-assembled and recalibrated. Even if this operation is a total success the hard drive will only work at 30% of it’s original performance at best. This is because the transplant operation is so difficult that most un- or low- skilled data recovery companies will have zero success in repairing hard drives with any type of r/w head failure.

When I began my data recovery career back in 2005 I went on several good data recovery training courses. The best we run by a company called Computer Science Labs who provided a basic grounding in the types of problems hard drives have and then provided hands-on training about how to understand the issues and recover the data. It was probably one of the best training courses I’ve ever been on and was vital in developing my career in data recovery.

Written by Betty

March 11th, 2016 at 11:06 am