Hard Drive Motor Failure Data Recovery

Under normal operation, your hard drive’s platters are spinning at thousands of revolutions per minute. Modern hard drives tend to spin at 5,400 or 7,200 RPM. Enterprise-class hard drives spin at up to 15,000 RPM. The high rotational speed of your platters is what enables your hard drive to access information so quickly. A point on the edge of a 3.5-inch platter in a typical desktop hard drive can be traveling at almost 150 miles per hour!

If your hard drive’s platters have stopped spinning, or if your hard drive is making a beeping, stuttering, or chattering noise, its spindle motor may have failed. This brings your hard drive to a grinding halt–sometimes quite literally–and cuts you off from all of the data you’ve stored on the drive.

If this has happened to you, though, have no fear–our data recovery technicians can help reunite you with your lost data.

Ready to Have Gillware Assist You with Your Hard Drive Spindle Motor Failure Data Recovery Needs?

Submit a case with us or get an instant estimate using the buttons below. When you send your failed hard drive in to the experts at Gillware, you can rest assured that you’re putting your data in the very best hands.


Read on to learn about how your hard drive’s motor can fail, how it cuts you off from everything you’ve stored on your drive, and what our engineers have to do to get as much of your data back as possible.

Hard Drive Spindle Motor Failure Recovery
Data recovery in the event of a spindle motor failure often involves placing the user’s hard drive platters into a compatible donor chassis with a functional motor.

How Does a Hard Drive Motor Failure Happen?

The high rotational speed of a hard disk’s platters generates the thin cushion of air that keeps your hard drive’s read/write heads afloat. All of this happens because the hard drive spindle motor dutifully does its job. Modern hard drive spindle motors have been designed to spin the platters far more quietly and efficiently than you’d expect.

But like most hard drive components, the spindle motor is delicate and vulnerable. A spindle motor failure can happen for several reasons. Most commonly, it is the result of physical trauma. Environmental conditions or old age can also cause the hard drive spindle motor’s lubricated bearings to dry out. Without lubrication, the heat and resistance generated by friction becomes unbearable. This quickly burns out the motor.

When the motor becomes seized, no matter how much power flows into it from the control board, it can’t make the platters spin. The motor can make a quiet buzzing sound, and the hard drive may become very hot.

Physical Trauma

If you drop or mishandle your hard drive while it’s running, the read/write heads can clamp down on the magnetic data storage platters. Suddenly, something is holding the platters in place and preventing them from spinning. The spindle motor tries and tries to spin the platters, but there’s nothing it can do. This can also happen if you flip a hard drive over or handle it roughly while it’s running. Total spindle motor failure can quickly set in if you keep trying to run the drive.

Many modern hard drives have safety features built into them to prevent this situation. An accelerometer can detect when a hard drive has entered a state of free-fall and quickly move the read/write heads off of the platters. This can still render the hard drive inoperable. But the chances of the motor being seized and the platters holding your critical data becoming damaged is much lower.

Sudden Power Loss

When a hard drive gets powered off normally, the air cushion slowly dissipates as the platters slow to a halt. The read/write heads have ample time to move to their rest positions away from the platters. But if a hard drive suddenly loses power, the air cushion could vanish before the heads can move to safety as the platters come to an abrupt halt. The heads end up crashing onto the surfaces of the platters.

The next time you power your hard drive on, the spindle motor will try to spin the platters. But the heads have too tight a grip on them. Trying to run the drive could cause platter damage and spindle motor failure.

Old Age/Environmental Conditions

Hard drive spindle motor failure can be caused as a result of natural wear or poor environmental conditions as well. Lubricated bearings keep the forces of friction (an engineer’s most hated enemy) at bay while the motor does its job. Over time, the lubrication will simply dry up. Foreign contaminants can also enter the hard drive and gunk up the motor. This is one of the many reasons not to open up your hard drive outside of a cleanroom environment.

Hard Drive Breathing Hole
The breathing hole is necessary for hard drives to work properly.

Hard drives are sealed very tightly, but they are not hermetically sealed. Most notably, they have a tiny breathing hole on the faceplate. There’s always a warning label telling you not to cover it up. But if foreign contaminants are so dangerous to a hard drive, why is there a hole there in the first place?

That hole is there to make sure the air pressure inside and outside the drive is the same. Otherwise, the hard drive’s heads might fall too close to the platters’ surfaces. Behind that hole is a cloth filter. This filter can keep all but the tiniest contaminants out. Unfortunately, even the tiniest contaminants can build up over the years and compromise the spindle motor’s lubricated bearings.

Spindle motor failure can also be brought on by environmental conditions. Exposing a hard drive to excessive humidity and heat for prolonged periods can cause the lubricated bearings to fail. If this happens, friction will overwhelm the motor and burn it out.

Why Choose Gillware for Hard Drive Motor Failure Data Recovery Services?

Recovering data from a hard drive with a failed hard drive motor can be difficult. In many cases, not only has the motor sustained damage. Motor failure can cause, or can be caused by, a domino effect of failure. Damage to the hard drive motor can come part and parcel with damaged read/write heads and damaged platters. This requires intensive cleanroom work to repair.

Hard Drive Motor Failure
Drew, one of our cleanroom engineers, prepares to disassemble a hard drive to use as a donor.

This intensive cleanroom work can take the form of read/write heads replacements, platter burnishing, or replacing the hard drive’s spindle motor and chassis. Occasionally, a stuck hard drive motor can be unstuck. But in cases where the hard drive motor has completely failed, the hard drive platters must be removed and placed into a compatible chassis with a functional motor. These operations are always carried out by our skilled and highly trained cleanroom data recovery technicians and engineers.

At Gillware Data Recovery, we understand that data recovery is often an unplanned expense. No one can predict when they’ll lose data to a hard drive failure. We also understand that while we do our best to keep the hard drive recovery cost lower than our competitors, sometimes intensive cleanroom work is just outside of your budget.

That’s why we stand by our financially risk-free data recovery services for hard drive motor failure. We start with a completely free evaluation, and even offer to cover the cost of inbound shipping. Our professional hard drive recovery technicians will assess the damage to your hard drive. We’ve seen just about every kind of failure in just about every brand of hard drive at least once before. One look at a hard drive’s condition gives us a very good idea of the cost and potential for success of a data recovery operation.

If the price quote is too high or the probability of success too low, you’re free to back out right then and there. But even if you approve the quote, we aren’t ready to send you a bill just yet. We hold off on that until we’ve completed the recovery procedure. And even then, we only charge you for our work if we successfully recover your critical data. If we fail to meet your data recovery goals, you don’t owe us a dime.

If you find your hard drive is not spinning, or if it is overheating or making odd noises, your hard drive motor may be to blame. Don’t panic! Just power the drive off and submit a case to our website. One of our recovery client advisers will contact you to walk you through the rest of our data recovery process.


Still not convinced? Check out some of these case studies for hard drive motor failure data recovery.

Spindle Motor

Hard Drive Spindle Motor Data Recovery Case Study: Seagate Barracuda

In this data recovery case, the client’s drive had multiple failure points. However, the primary reason ...

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Gillware’s data recovery services are affordably priced, technologically innovative and completely secure.


Best-in-class engineering and software development staff
Gillware employs a full time staff of electrical engineers, mechanical engineers, computer scientists and software developers to handle the most complex data recovery situations and data solutions

Strategic partnerships with leading technology companies
Gillware is proud to be a recommended provider for Dell, Western Digital and other major hardware and software vendors. These partnerships allow us to gain unique insight into recovering from these devices.

RAID Array / NAS / SAN data recovery
Using advanced engineering techniques, we can recover data from large capacity, enterprise grade storage devices such as RAID arrays, network attached storage (NAS) devices and storage area network (SAN) devices.

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Thanks to special engineering and programming efforts, Gillware is able to recover data from virtualized environments with a high degree of success.


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Gillware has been security audited to ensure data safety, meaning all our facilities, networks, policies and practices have been independently reviewed and determined as completely secure.

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Gillware’s facilities meet the SOC 2 Type II audit requirements for security to prevent entry by unauthorized personnel. All staff are pre-screened, background checked and fully instructed in the security protocol of the company.

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We meet the criteria to be approved for use by government agencies

GSA Contract No.: GS-35F-0547W

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Our entire data recovery process can be handled to meet HIPAA requirements for encryption, transfer and protection of e-PHI.


No obligation, no up-front fees, free inbound shipping and no-cost evaluations.
Gillware’s data recovery process is 100% financially risk free. We only charge if the data you want is successfully recovered.

Our pricing is 40-50% less than our competition.
By using cutting edge engineering techniques, we are able to control costs and keep data recovery prices low.

Instant online estimates.
By providing us with some basic information about your case, we can give you an idea of how much it will cost before you proceed with the recovery.

We only charge for successful data recovery efforts.
We work with you to define clear data recovery goals for our technicians, and only charge you upon successfully meeting these goals and recovering the data that is most important to you.

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Gillware has the seal of approval from a number of different independent review organizations, including SOC 2 Type II audit status, so our customers can be sure they’re getting the best data recovery service possible.

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