During the summer, we here at Gillware see an uptick in hard drives that have stopped spinning. These hard drives come into our data recovery lab with shorted control boards. Thunderstorms happen a lot more frequently during the summer, and with them, lightning strikes and power surges that can fry a hard drive’s control board.
Power surges are bad news for electronics. If you run too much power through an electrical circuit, it will overload. A power surge lasting for just three nanoseconds (three one-billionths of a second) will fry a hard drive’s control board. This is a length of time so short that referring to it as “the blink of an eye” (which typically lasts about 1/3 of a second) would be an insult. However, as pioneer computer scientist Rear Admiral Grace Hopper often demonstrated, in one nanosecond alone, an electronic signal can travel about twelve inches. External hard drives are particularly vulnerable to power surges.