Dropped Hard Drive Recovery Services

Some hard drives are more prone to being dropped than others. Laptops are frequently in danger of taking a tumble off your lap and landing on the floor. Your external hard drive can be knocked off the desk by an errant hand, pet cat, or child. And when that happens, no matter the cause, it can lead to data -and you- in deep trouble.

Dropped External Hard Drive? Let us Take a Look!

Losing precious data hurts, especially if you don’t have it backed up, and especially if you’ve accidentally dropped your hard drive. Have your butterfingers (or your cat) cost you your business documents, music collection, and years of family photos after your drive fell to the floor?

Not quite.

If you’re thinking ‘I dropped my Lacie external hard drive and now my files are gone’, think again! Before you lament all those forever-inaccessible files, contact us to see what we can do. It costs nothing to send your hard drive to our lab in Madison, WI for an evaluation: we even pay for the inbound shipping for you!

What Happens When I Drop My Hard Drive?

To understand how a dropped hard drive fails, it’s important to understand how a hard drive works. Inside your hard drive are thin, delicate disks with a magnetic coating. These are the drive’s data storage platters. They are like CDs, but smaller and denser. Laptop hard drives, which are the most prone to being dropped, have platters made out of glass. The hard drive’s spindle motor spins these platters at around 5,400 to 7,200 revolutions per minute.

The platters are divided into sectors. These are magnetically-charged pieces of the surface that contain the actual data on the hard drive. Small electrically-charged coils of copper wire mounted on long arms sweep across the radius of the platters as they spin. These are the magnetic read/write heads. These heads are kept away from the platters when the drive is not in use. A ramp guides them into their proper positions above the platters.

Unlike the needle on a record player, these heads are never supposed to touch the surfaces of the platters. Instead, they hover a tiny distance above the platters on a cushion of air. This distance is about the equivalent of a couple dozen atoms laid end-to-end.

To imagine what the read/write heads are doing, think about a plane flying at top speed a few feet above the ground. The margins for error are razor-thin. It’s unsurprising that the read/write heads are one of the most common failure points for a hard drive.

At the instant you drop your laptop or external hard drive, the device experiences an instantaneous moment of weightlessness. Then gravity does its work. The higher the height your device falls from, the more speed it builds up. And then it hits the ground, and it stops—very quickly.

You may be familiar with Newton’s second law of motion: Force equals mass times acceleration. The faster an object’s velocity changes, the more force is exerted on it. As the saying goes, it’s not the fall that kills you.

If your hard drive is running when your laptop or external drive takes a tumble, the read/write heads could crash onto the surfaces of the platters. This is the one thing they are absolutely not supposed to do.

The platters might only briefly impact with the platters, making some dings and scraping out a few sectors here and there. Or they might make prolonged contact with the platters and gouge huge tracks out of them. This is called rotational scoring. Severe rotational scoring can be devastating.

The heads can also clamp down on the platters and stop them from spinning. This can cause the hard drive spindle motor to seize up.

A clear indicator that you have done serious damage to your hard drive is when the drive starts clicking when you plug it in. A clicking hard drive should be unplugged immediately, and your best course of action is to start looking into data recovery options.

Manufacturers of both laptop computer and hard drives have come up with ways to mitigate the damage done to a dropped hard drive. Many laptops today have accelerometers inside them. These features, such as Apple’s Sudden Motion Sensor, send signals to the hard drive and warn it to take its heads away from of the platters if the laptop enters free fall. Hard drive manufacturers are also now building free fall sensors into the drives themselves.

This doesn’t stop the drive from failing if it falls hard enough. The heads can become damaged by a fall even if they’ve been tucked away. But it does reduce the chances of the platters containing your precious data becoming damaged.

There are some external hard drive manufacturers who make their enclosures as tough as possible. These products are typically aimed at nature photographers and anyone with rough and adventurous lines of work. These hard drives are much more well-insulated from shocks and drops than your typical external hard drive. But as long as a hard drive has moving parts, dropping your hard drive always carries risks. In situations where you’ve dropped a hard drive it is entirely possible that you encounter a computer not recognizing hard drive error. In situations like this it is very likely that you will need data recovery services.

You dropped your hard drive…Now what?

Gillware Support Engineer Graphic

How Do Gillware’s Dropped Hard Drive Recovery Services Work?

At Gillware Data Recovery, we offer free in-lab evaluations for all dropped hard drive recovery scenarios. We even offer free inbound shipping for anyone living in the continental US to make data recovery as painless as possible.

There’s no way of telling how severe the damage to the drive has been until we’ve brought it to our hard drive recovery cleanroom and had our technicians look at it. A dropped hard drive could need its read/write heads replaced. Its platters might need burnishing to clear debris off of them. The spindle motor may have failed. Our professional hard drive recovery engineers may have to deal with some or all of these failure points in order to get your drive up and running.

Dropped hard drive data recovery engineer Charles inspects a drive's platters.
Charles, one of our cleanroom data recovery engineers, inspects the 2.5-inch platters of a dropped laptop hard drive for any signs of rotational scoring.

We take note of the hard drive’s condition and determine the cost and probability of success for dropped hard drive recovery on a case-by-case basis. We then present you with a price quote. We don’t ask for any payment at this point, just acknowledgment of the cost.

If you approve the price quote, our hard drive recovery cleanroom engineers do the work to get your hard drive into shape. This can require one repair to the drive or many repairs. Our in-house data recovery software tool HOMBRE helps our engineers read the drive safely and efficiently. As part of our dropped hard drive recovery services, we salvage as much as we can from the drive. We’ve made our entire data recovery operation as financially risk-free as possible. We only consider our recovery efforts successful if we recover your important data, and meet the goals of your case, which are established when you approve the quote for data recovery. When the recovery is complete and successful, we take your recovered data and put it on a new hard drive and ship it to you.

Why Choose Gillware For Dropped Hard Drive Data Recovery?

If you dropped an external hard drive and now it won’t work, you are probably somewhat upset; but there is still hope! Dropped hard drive recovery is a unique and highly specialized skill. Our cleanroom data recovery engineers have spent years and thousands of hours working on hard drives. Just about every brand and model of hard drive has come into our cleanroom at least once.

Our engineers have solved thousands of dropped hard drive recovery cases in the years we’ve been in business. We stand by our financially risk-free data recovery guarantee. If we can’t get your data back at a price that makes sense to you, you don’t owe us a dime.