VHD Recovery: Breaking the Boot Cycle

There are few things in this world more frustrating than to be caught in an endless reboot cycle. But while these cycles usually don’t indicate a hard drive failure and can be fixed, sometimes it’s just because your hard drive is malfunctioning. This was what happened to our client. After their computer got caught in a Windows 10 boot loop, the client in this VHD recovery case pulled out their Seagate hard drive, but couldn’t access the data on it. The client came to Gillware, hoping that our data recovery specialists could recover their important VHD and VMDK files from the failed hard drive.

VHD Recovery Case Study: Breaking the Cycle
Drive Model: Seagate Barracuda 7200.11 ST3500620AS
Drive Capacity: 500 GB
Operating System: Windows 10
Situation: Windows 10 computer was caught in an endless Windows 10 boot loop and hard drive was “scalding” to the touch when pulled out
Type of Data Recovered: Virtual hard disk VHD files and virtual machine VMDK files
Binary Read: 100%
Gillware Data Recovery Case Rating: 10

The client reported that in addition to the infamous Windows 10 boot loop it was stuck in, their hard drive was burning to the touch. The client was taken aback by this heat. They assumed that something must have been physically wrong with their hard drive to make it so feverish.

Our engineers found, upon evaluation, that the hard drive had suffered a failure of its firmware. Hard drive firmware acts as the drive’s “operating system”. Like this client’s Windows 10 O/S, the operating system for this hard drive was also caught in a loop. A glitch had developed in the firmware, causing the drive to suffer a little kernel panic of its own.

VHD Recovery

Unlike your operating system, your hard drive’s firmware can’t be fixed so easily when it goes bad. Access to hard drive firmware is heavily restricted. Normally, only technicians on the manufacturer’s factory floor can access it. Manufacturers design firmware as robust as they can to prevent failure. But sometimes bad things just happen, and the firmware wets the bed. When this happens, only a professional data recovery lab has the tools and expertise to repair the firmware.

After our firmware experts repaired the firmware and cleared out the corrupt elements, our VHD recovery technicians could take a look at the client’s critical data. VHD and VMDK files are the files for virtual hard disks and virtual machines. These files contain, essentially, an entire simulated hard drive inside them. VMDK files have operating systems as well. With the help of a hypervisor, these files can be used as if they were real computers. Virtual hard drives and machines allow users to organize their data or install secondary or tertiary operating systems without needing to physically partition their “real” hard drive.

VHD and VMDK Recovery Results

When dealing with virtual hard disks, getting a full read on the virtual disk files is paramount. Missing portions of the files can result in corrupt or lost data. In these cases, our VHD recovery specialists always examine the virtual disks closely to make sure the client’s data is as functional and free of corruption as possible.

Our hard drive recovery experts successfully recovered 100% of the client’s files, making this VHD recovery case a perfect 10 on our ten-point rating scale.

VHD Data Recovery – Handling Your Hard Drive When the Heat is On

People just don’t realize how hot hard drives are. But like all electronics, they do produce heat. We all know how hot a phone can get when you spend a long enough time using it. After an hour on the phone with your dear grandma, the phone starts to get hot in your hand and sweat starts to make your cheek stick to the screen. And plenty of people know all too well the discomfort caused by an excessively hot laptop. You never notice how hot your hard drive itself gets, though. The heat from your hard drive gets intermingled with the heat produced by every other component in your laptop.

But yes, hard drives are quite hot when they’ve been running long enough. This by itself isn’t necessarily an indication of failure in any way. Drives can become abnormally hot when a component such as the spindle motor fails. However, you’re bound to notice that the hard disk platters aren’t spinning properly or that your hard drive is making an ungodly noise before you notice how hot the drive is.

That said, it’s always good to be mindful of the heat that can be produced by your hard drive if you need to pull it out of your computer (whether it’s broken or not). If the heat catches you by surprise, you just might drop the drive—and make a bad situation worse. When your hard drive’s in your hands, please don’t drop it like it’s hot.

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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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