When Data A&E receive a failed media we may need to address some or all of the following issues:
Physical failure occurs where physical faults prevent the drive from starting up. This can range from a single failed head, through to complete head stack failure, to motor failure. A complete head stack failure often manifests itself by clicking from the drive when it starts up. If your drive clicks at all then DO NOT continue to attempt to access it, or take any other measures such as put it in the freezer ( old wives’ tale) that almost certainly will make matter worse. If the heads have failed then the drive needs to be disassembled in a dust-free clean room environment and the heads removed and replaced. Fitting of the replacement heads is a skilled. Replacement heads can be very difficult to locate, due to compatibility issues, high levels of resource and product knowledge being required. We have a good stock of spare parts, and access to partners to locate parts we don’t hold. Motor failure is usually indicated when the drive will not spin up at all or a buzzing sound. Motor failure often requires the heads and platters to be removed; Data A&E data recovery engineers have the skill, techniques and specialist equipment to manage these tasks.
Firmware failure occurs where modules that reside on the actual platters of the drive become damaged or corrupted. The drive requires these modules to be read from the Service Area (SA) of the drive, before it will start up and become ready. Firmware failure often becomes apparent when the drive spins and sounds normal, but is actually inaccessible in the BIOS. Recovery from this state requires specialist hardware and software and technical knowledge to repair the Service Area. We may need to replace modules from compatible stock/library drives as one small error may render the data on a drive irretrievable. Firmware failures can also cause partial media problems such as damage to the G-List (growing defect list), again our equipment and expertise allows us to address these and other similar issues.
Electronic failure occurs where the logic board (PCB) has failed. In this instance we have to find a compatible PCB to re-enable access to the drive. This isn’t a simple process, as many drives have ROM information programmed directly into the PCB. We have to retrieve this information and re-programme it into the donor PCB. This process requires specialist hardware & software. In some models this ROM information is unique to the drive and so the original PCB must be repaired to expedite the recovery. Surface mounted and hot-air soldering facilities allow us to achieve this.
Media issues occur where, for example, a drive develops bad sectors, making it difficult or impossible to access via any Windows/Linux etc based operating system. This may result in the hard drive being seen correctly in the BIOS i.e. correct model number and capacity etc., but the computer locks or freezes when you attempt to access the drive. Here again specialist software must be used to extract your data.
Logical failure is where the drive itself is working as normal, but the data is inaccessible. The drive may have been accidentally formatted, or the file table become corrupted. Particularly applicable if a manufacturers System Recovery has been performed. In this case it is vital that you do not use the PC at all. Shut down and seek professional advice from Data A&E. If you continue there is a very good chance that the data area will be overwritten and your personal data will be lost.