Leave your hard drive powered off if you've dropped it

A lot of the hard drives that we receive for data recovery in our Cape Town lab have been dropped. It’s luck of the draw when a hard drive is dropped; sometimes it’s perfectly OK, other times there will be significant damage. It’s perfectly reasonable to expect someone to plug their recently dropped hard drive into a computer to see if it’s still working, but that’s where the problems begin. Either the hard drive will be functioning normally, or you’ll find that it’s not responding properly, or even worse, making clicking or beeping noises.

Something that we have seen a lot of is when a friend or IT person tries to help out and powers on the hard drive multiple times. This damages the hard drive even further, sometimes taking it from a point of recovery with the right tools and know how, to totally unrecoverable.

hard drive platter damage data recovery

Hard drives are high tech and specialised

The image above is a good example of such a problem. The client dropped her hard drive and plugged it back into her computer to see if it was working. It did detect and she could see her folders, but after a short time it started to become slow, not respond and caused her computer to hang. She called up her local IT guy for assistance, and he ran it overnight on some software. By the time he was done, the drive was totally destroyed. The hard drive platters should have a perfect, mirror finish. Note this drive is totally scratched and 100% unrecoverable.

When the hard drive was dropped, some of the heads that read and write the data were damaged. Had the drive come into us before any other attempts at recovery were made, we would have removed the damaged heads in the lab, installed a replacement set, and safely recovered the data. However, the damaged heads were left to run in the drive, causing a catastrophic head crash. As you can imagine, the client was devastated to lose the last 10 years of her photos.

hard drive damage

The grey dust you see in the top corner next to the air filter used to be the client’s data. It has been destroyed and literally turned to dust. We use a green light in the lab as it highlights damage much better than normal lighting.

If you have experienced any problems with your hard drive and require hard drive data recovery, it’s vital that you bring the hard drive into us as soon as possible, making sure not to power the drive on so as to avoid any further damage.


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