CALL US - 07 5523 2384     emailfacebookgooglelinkedin

Hard Drives Known Faults

Hard disk drives are the most common storage medium in the world. You will find them in most desktop computers, laptops and external hard drives. All brands (HP, Mac, Dell, Generic etc.) use the same type of electro-mechanical drives. They are called electro-mechanical drives as they have complex mechanisms which involve mechanical systems like the read/write heads, motor, platters, and electronic controllers which control them.

hard drives 3.5" and 2.5" for data recovery
Hard drives 3.5″ and 2.5″ for data recovery

Most hard drives today are very cheap and produced in large quantities of low quality products. Prices are down at the expense of quality unfortunately.  You can always buy a good enterprise quality hard drive and it will cost you almost double the entry level standard drive but most people are not aware of that and will only become aware of  this when it is too late, after they loose their data to a faulty drive. There are a few known brands which control the market – we are down to only 3 manufacturers:

  1. Western Digital – acquired Hitachi HDD division (Hitachi acquired IBM HDD division a few years ago)
  2. Seagate – acquired Maxtor &  Samsung HDD division
  3. Toshiba – acquired Fujitsu HDD division

The last few generations of drives are unreliable and tend to have a lot of failures.  If your hard drive stops responding bring it to us immediately for data recovery.

Data Recovery

Data recovery is required when users lose their data (files of any type: pictures, word documents, excel sheets etc.)
Data loss can happen logically and physically. The following list describes the common problems, the list is divided into logical and physical groups.

Logical Data Loss

Usually happen as a result of:

  • Virus/Spyware attack which causes deletion of data/files.
  • Data was deleted by mistake or intentionally by users.
  • Hard drive was formatted by mistake or intentionally by users.

In most of these cases the data or parts of it still exists and are encoded magnetically on the drive but you will not be able to retrieve it without specialized tools and knowledge. We will reconstruct your data from the lost or damaged partitions or from the raw drive using specially designed algorithms for this purpose.

The following items are the most common logical failures:

  1. File System Corruption/Destruction.
  2. Formatted hard drive.
  3. Deleted Files.

The first thing to do is to shut down the device and bring it to us.  If you are going to use these devices the chances of recovering the data decreases significantly. The reason for this is that even if the data was deleted/formatted there is a good chance that the file system is lost but most of the data is still there, we need to reproduce it with special algorithms and reconstruct it. If you keep using it, there is a good chance that new data/files will be written magnetically to the same location of your required data and re-write the area, in this case the data will never be recoverable.

Physical Data Loss

The following items are the most common physical failures:

  1. Damage to Read/Write Heads – clicking/knocking sounds – this is the hardest problem in a hard drive. You can think of it as a record player with a broken/faulty heads – it will not be able to read the music from the vinyl record. It is a similar case with hard drives, only much more complex. The data is stored on a thin  iron oxide layer in a multi-platter setting with very sensitive, delicate read/write heads.  The number of heads varies from 2 -8 these days. This failure can be caused by exhaustion of the heads, over heating, damaged platter release particles that damage the heads or electric surges.  The main cause is a drive that was dropped on a hard floor and similar accidents.
  2. Spindle Motor is damaged or seized – buzzing like sounds – this is the second most difficult problem that we experience with hard drives. The mechanic motor which spins the platters is either seized up or has stoped working.  This failure can be caused by exhaustion of the motor, over heating or electric surges.  The main cause is a drive that was dropped on a hard floor and similar accidents.
  3. Damaged Electronic board(PCB) – in some of the cases will cause a loss of power – the PCB is the electronic module of the hard drive and is a small embedded controller/computer that manages and controls the hard drive. It is very sensitive to over-heating and power surges which can cause some of the components to burn. If one of the PCB components is burned the hard drive will stop working.
  4. Inability to access data – in some cases, you will still be able to see the drive as it will identify itself to the operating system(windows, mac OS, linux etc.), but when you try to access the folders/data the computer will get stuck and you won’t be able to access any of the data or just parts of it.  This behavior happens when the disk platters which hold the data contain some level of damage or bad sectors.
  5. Corruption of Firmware – each hard drive has a small embedded computer which needs an operating system in order to operate. Similar to a PC which uses windows for example, the hard drives use firmware which vary depending on the brand and model. When the firmware gets corrupted the hard drive will not function properly.
    Common symptoms are:  HDD will not be identified by the computer, shows wrong size and serial number and will sometimes make clicking sounds similar to heads damage. This problem is quite common with  Segate 7200.11 & 7200.12 drives.
    Can be caused by over heating, hardware failure, PCB failure and bad design of the drive.
  6. Hard drive is not detected by the computer – usually firmware corruption but can be caused by any of the faults mentioned above.
  7. Damage to USB bridge – some of the external drives today are using an external additional PCB circuit(USB Bridge) between the HDD and the external enclosure. In some cases this bridge becomes faulty and needs to be replaced or fixed. In many cases today this bridge has an encryption chip.

We provide Data Recovery & Forensic Services Australia wide to: 
Gold Coast, Tweed Heads,Byron Bay, Ballina, Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth, Adelaide, Darwin, Newcastle, Canberra, Queanbeyan, Wollongong, Sunshine Coast, Hobart, Geelong, Townsville, Cairns, Toowoomba, Launceston, Albury, Wodonga, Ballarat, Bendigo, Mandurah, Mackay, Burnie, Devonport, Latrobe Valley, Rockhampton, Bundaberg, Bunbury, Hervey Bay, Wagga Wagga, Coffs Harbour, Gladstone, Mildura, Shepparton, Tamworth, Port Macquarie, Orange, Dubbo, Geraldton, Nowra, Bomaderry, Bathurst, Warrnambool, Lismore, Kalgoorlie, Boulder and more.