I Opened My Hard Drive – Now What?

by Nov 06, 2016

Even if you have opened your hard drive we might still be able to recover your data. If you experienced a hard drive failure and started searching for solutions like:

  • How do I fix a failed hard drive?
  • How to recover lost photos
  • Dead hard disk drive repair
  • Can I fix my own HDD?
  • How to unstick a dropped hard drive
  • What to do when a HDD is buzzing or beeping
  • Disk Drive Platter Swap

then you may have stumbled upon a solution that looks promising but can actually cause more harm than good. It’s not unusual when you drop a HDD for the heads to get damaged and possibly stuck. One of the problems with the Youtube solutions about opening hard drives is that they don’t consider the issues with opening a hard drive in a dirty environment. When we refer to dirty we mean anything with particles over .5 micron. Considering that average dust particles are about 10.0 microns you can see the problem.

Another issue is that buzzing noise you hear a disk drive make when the heads are stuck could be because the heads are bent, often stuck in the ramp. If you un-stick these bent or damaged heads they could get back to the platters and escalate your case to what some companies refer to as a level-3 recovery, or worse, literally scrape your data away.

When we receive a dropped disk drive we open it in one of our laminar airflow workstations (clean environment) and inspect the heads. If the heads are stuck to the platter we carefully detach the heads from the surface. In some cases at least one of the slider/head pieces has broken free or will come off. In this situation the loose slider has to be found before the drive is turned back on, otherwise it can can cause more damage or result in catastrophic failure.

If you are just starting out in the data recovery business please don’t put customer’s data at risk by experimenting. Read Hard Drive Data Recovery Lab Best Practices and avoid some critical mistakes.

Have some people recovered their own data after stiction? Yes, it is possible for the heads to still work even if they are weak. The drive might last long enough to recover some data even if dust was introduced to the platters. We don’t judge anyone for trying their own recovery if the data is not absolutely necessary or critically important. Even at our low rates your data just might not be worth the cost. That said, if your data has any real value to you then you should not open your hard drive and you really should not turn on a dropped hard disk drive. Find a data recovery professional and let them know the drive was dropped. How much does data recovery cost?

Here are some photos of the heads that were removed from a dropped Western Digital and a dropped Seagate HDD.

Bent arm and contamination.
Dropped Seagate Bent Arm
Missing slider/head
Dropped Western Digital Missing Head

Mangled heads
Heads ripped from Seagate Hard Drive