How to Fix a Hard Drive… The Gillware Way

Hard drives have come a long way from the fridge-sized monstrosities of the 1950s. They’re not just smaller. They pack orders of magnitude more data than the five-megabyte platters in the earliest hard drives could as well. Their tiny size and massive storage capacities make them so incredibly complex that it’s almost a miracle they work at all. However, due to that complexity, they’re also very difficult to fix when they break. At a professional data recovery lab like Gillware, you can find experts who know exactly how to fix a hard drive.

When a hard drive breaks down, only specially-trained experts know how to fix a hard drive safely and reliably. Clicking hard drives, beeping hard drives, and whining or shrieking hard drives all have physical problems “under the hood”. And there’s only one place to safely fix those problems.

Why Fixing a Hard Drive Isn’t Like Fixing a Car

Your hard drive isn’t like a car, where you could conceivably pop the hood open in your own garage and take a look (although, without the appropriate car mechanic training, you wouldn’t know much about what you’re looking at or how to fix it). Hard drives may not be hermetically sealed, but they do have special filters to prevent dust from getting inside them. Even a single grain of dust on the surface of one of the drive’s hard disk platters can cause catastrophe.

Opening up a hard disk drive anywhere but in a HDD factory or professional data recovery lab is just asking for trouble. And that trouble often takes the form of rotational scoring and irreversible data loss. We don’t care much for DIY data recovery methods. They frequently make our engineers’ jobs harder and lower our chances of successfully recovering data.

As a result, hard drive repairs must happen inside a professional data recovery lab with cleanroom workstations. Gillware’s cleanroom workbenches are ISO-5 Class 100 certified, which makes them a safe space to perform delicate hard drive surgeries. Our lab don’t just have the tools, though—it has engineers with thousands of hours of experience apiece, who know exactly how to fix a hard drive.

How to Fix a Hard Drive… The Gillware Way

As hard drives grew more and more complex, they become more difficult and required more specialized knowledge to fix. A problem that could have been solved by a technician in a computer repair shop ten years ago now requires highly-trained experts to do it right. Some technicians still try to use older methods to try and fix broken hard drives, or turn to data recovery old-wives-tales like the notorious “freezer method”. But these methods are now unreliable at best and destructive at worst. Professional labs like Gillware Data Recovery are full of people who know how to fix a hard drive when it breaks down.

First, our engineers take a close look at the failed hard drive. By documenting its symptoms, our engineers know how to approach the data recovery situation. For example, if the drive won’t spin up, our engineers know that the printed circuit board needs replacing. If the drive clicks or beeps, the read/write heads have likely failed and could be damaging the disk platters. If need be, our engineers open up the drive at one of our clean room workstations to inspect its insides. This inspection helps our engineers determine a firm and fair price quote for the data recovery work.

Once the customer approves the quote and gives us the go-ahead to continue, our engineers start the recovery work in earnest. We make the necessary repairs and try to image the drive’s contents using our fault-tolerant, write-protected hard drive imaging tools. Our versatile data recovery software allows us to control the drive’s performance and target the user’s most critical data. Sometimes a hard drive will need multiple repairs before we can successfully meet our customer’s data recovery goals. After successfully recovering their data, we send the customer their recovered data on a password-secured hard drive.

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Will Ascenzo
Will is the lead blogger, copywriter, and copy editor for Gillware Data Recovery and Digital Forensics, and a staunch advocate against the abuse of innocent semicolons.
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