enterprise storage
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Hitachi Deskstar with platter damage

Hitachi drive whose platters look clean to the naked eye but have some damage.

Originally posted June 27th, 2011. Updated Oct. 6th, 2015.

Clients who suddenly lose access to their drive’s data may come to you in a panic. They may expect that you will have some simple trick to get their data back. Or they may be in the process of tampering with their drive in various ways in a desperate attempt at data recovery.

For anyone supporting someone whose hard drive has failed, the first responsibility is to avoid putting that data in any further jeopardy of disappearing forever.

Consider the value of the data and the consequences of its permanent loss. Professional data recovery labs have spent millions of dollars and thousands of hours to develop data recovery techniques that are proven to be effective and non-destructive to the customer’s data.

Here is a quick drive handling guide to avoid common problems and to make your client’s data recovery case more likely to be successful.

Never experiment on a customer’s hard drive.

A client’s data is incredibly important to them, and should be treated with the utmost respect. Attempting to recover data using unproven techniques is not only counterproductive, but unethical. Hard drives implement sophisticated technology to perform their work. Professional data recovery companies spend millions of dollars, and thousands of hours, researching and developing data recovery techniques. Until each technique is proven to be effective and non-destructive to the customer’s data, the technique is not used.

Don’t try control board swaps.

Control boards can look identical from one drive to another, but looks can be deceiving. Placing a non-compatible control board on a drive can turn a simple non-invasive electrical recovery into a much more complicated and expensive invasive cleanroom recovery, or worse, render the data unrecoverable.

 
 

Never open the hard drive or remove the warranty seals.

Opening a drive in an unclean environment not only increases the recovery cost, but it can render a drive unrecoverable. A hard drive’s internal components are very sensitive to environmental influences. Airborne particulates, oils, and moisture can accumulate on platter surfaces once the hard drive is opened making recovery of data very difficult if not impossible.

 
 

Immediately shut down a hard drive that is making any unusual noises.

Drives that are clicking, screeching, or scraping have mechanical issues that must be repaired in a class-100 cleanroom prior to recovering any data from the drive. There are no software tools available that will ever successfully recover data from a drive suffering from a mechanical failure. Running a drive that has failed mechanically for even a couple minutes can lead to rotational platter scoring and can render a drive’s data unrecoverable.

Never install data recovery software on the device that you’re trying to recover data from.

The first rule in professional data recovery is to never alter the data on the drive from which you are attempting to recover data.

Never place a hard drive in a freezer or oven.

Placing a hard drive in a freezer and then powering it up can short out the electronics or cause irreparable platter damage due to moisture condensing on the platters. Hard drives are designed to operate within certain environmental conditions. Extreme temperatures place the drive outside of its design specifications and can lead to rotational scoring.

 
 

Never tap or hit a hard drive in order to get it running again.

Doing so can lead to irreparable platter damage making the hard drive completely unrecoverable. The caveman approach to data recovery never works.

Never rotate, flip or reposition a hard drive while running.

Hard drives are complex mechanical devices that are very sensitive to physical manipulation. Rotating, flipping, or repositioning a drive while it is running can lead to significant rotational scoring and render the drive unrecoverable.

If you’re interested in offering Gillware’s data recovery services to your clients, please give us a call at 877-624-7206 to discuss our Affiliate Programs.

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