November 21, 2011

The Truths About Hard Disk Failure and Information Recovery

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Hard Drive Repair

Imagine this- For 4 hours, you’ve been struggling to finish an important marketing campaign plan that you have been working for the last 4 weeks. Your marketing plan is due the next day. You have already finished the plan and saved your document. You stood up to stretch out and got yourself a latte. When you came back, you noticed that your screen is black. The computer booted itself and was stuck in the boot-up process with this message: “No boot device. Please insert a bootable media.” For a number of times, you tried to restart your computer to fix your problem. But even with the few restarts, it did not do any difference. You started to panic and worry about recovering your marketing plan and all your other important files….

Almost everyone has to deal with the pain and trouble of a hard drive failure. However, most of us don’t know the causes of this horrifying situation and as well as how to recover the lost data or files. Hard disk failure is maybe the most feared situation among computer-users. The dreaded blue screen with a message alerting you of a looming hard disk failure or worse a black screen that suggests failure has already occurred (the worst case scenario!!) is a painful reality. Your first reaction to this is sheer panic and absolute fear of losing all the countless important document and files you have saved in your computer. And now, you have only yourself to blame since you have been meaning to back up those files, but didn’t find the extra time.

Hard Disk Failure: The Phenomenon

Surprisingly, hard disk failure is a common problem. This can place all your important documents and files residing on your hard drive at the greatest risk. Contrary to most people’s perception, recovery of data is not very difficult. Basically, 99% of data is recoverable and hard disk recovery is possible just as long as you do the right course of action (or have a reputable hard disk recovery service provider to help you).

A hard disk drive is a digitally programmed non-volatile storage device. It stores data on speedily rotating disks with magnetic surfaces called hard disk platters. As the platters rotate rapidly, the read-write heads of the hard disk drive are used to record and retrieve the information stored in the hard disk. Since hard disk drives operate at extreme stress, they will eventually experience the normal wear and tear due to age or some forms of breakdowns.

It is very ironic that hard disk drives are developed and more improved (drives get smaller and smaller while they become more powerful and come with considerable storage capacity or simply I call it the read and write capacity upgraded) yet the potential of hard disk drive to experience failure is also enhanced. Today’s hard drives can rotate at the speed of 15,000 rpm which can generate a massive centrifugal force. With that speed, a single glitch in the normal course of operation can lead to severe hard disk failure.

Although it is essential to contact service specialists in hard disk recovery especially in cases wherein the hardware itself is damaged or files are corrupted, there is no harm if you know the common causes of hard disk failure and simple recovery solutions, as well as preventive measures and tactics to try to minimize the risk of hard drive crashes.

Hard Disk Failure Common Causes and Actions To Take

Since the hard drive acts as the heart of your computer, failure can mean very catastrophic. If you are mainly relying on your computer(s) for your business, hard disk failure can definitely jeopardize your business’ operations. Lost of information and data can set your business several miles back. Although you dread this to happen to you and your company, you should be prepared and at least knowledgeable enough to notice an ominous hard disk failure. Knowing the common causes can help you make some necessary preventive actions. And if failure has already occurred, you will know exactly what to do in case.

The good news here (as I have mentioned) is very often data and information in failed drives are recoverable. Data stored in hard drives are resilient that is why success rates of recovering lost files and data is high.

Hard disk can fail in four ways that can result to potential lost of data.

Mechanical Failure

Mechanical damage of hard disks can arise from the impact of the normal wear and tear. These failures originate from the internal components of the hard disk itself. The read and write motors of your hard disk can become defective without prior warning. Frequently as soon as an internal component goes faulty, your data in your hard disk will become inaccessible.

The usual symptoms that will alert you of a mechanical defect includes clicking and grinding sounds, completely quiet due to “motor freeze”, or “music” tone as the drive is powered up.

If you suspect a mechanical failure, you must not be tempted to open up your hard disk. There is nothing you can do at this point. If you open your hard disk, you will place the internal clean environment inside at risk for contamination. The hard drive platters are very sensitive. There is the possibility that you will destroy any chance of recouping damaged or lost data if the internal environment is infected.

For mechanical failure, the hard disk needs to be opened up in a clean room by a service specialist. The drive will be taken apart and investigated in order for stored data and information to be recovered. Reputable hard disk recovery specialists have clean rooms to recover drives with mechanical troubles.

Electronic Failure

If an electronic failure happens, it usually involves damage to the Printed Circuit Board (PCB) of the hard disk. The PCB is the “middleman” between the hard disk and the computer. It controls, coordinates, and communicates to read and write data. Due to power spikes or electric surges, the PCB gets damaged. You will eventually lose your data.

You can suspect for an electronic failure if you have the following symptoms: if your drive is powered yet shows not signs of function, disk knocking as the motor fails to spin, and clicking sounds as the heads search or initiate.

Maybe you may think that replacing the drive’s circuit board will solve your problem. However, this is a very bad decision. This will invalidate your warranty and prevent the possibility of data recovery, even with service specialists. The best course of action is to immediately contact a trusted hard disk recovery service specialist.

Logical Corruption

Logical failure can be the easiest to fix or the most difficult problem to deal with. This is a non-physical type of failure. The difficulty rate of recovering lost data depends on the circumstances that lead to the logical failure. Logical errors can range from a simple invalid entry in a file allocation table to more serious problems like corruption and loss of file system on a severely fragmented drive. The difference of logical errors from mechanical or electronic error is there is nothing wrong physically with the drive, but just the information on it.

There are various software tools available in the net that can help you tackle logical errors. However, if you will try to attempt to run a fix utility on your drive, you might make recoverable data difficult to recover. Contact a service specialist to fix your logical corruption problems.

Firmware Corruption

The hard disk firmware is the software code that controls the physical hard drive hardware. If the firmware is corrupted, your computer will often unable to correctly interact with the hard disk.

You can suspect for a firmware corruption if the hard disk is not recognized or incorrectly recognized by the computer even when the hard disk is spinning when powered up. If the computer does recognize the hard disk but the system will hang during the boot process, this indicates a firmware corruption.

Occasionally, the data on your disk can be fully recovered once the hard drive has been repaired and reprogrammed. A hard drive with firmware corruption can be fixed by low level reprogramming and manipulation of the hard disk. However, an ordinary computer shop can’t do this. You need to rely on a reputable service specialist to successfully recover date from hard drive with firmware faults.

Now, you know the different causes of hard disk failure. Identify what might have happen to your hard disk. If you are a novice on this, it is best to seek help from expert hard disk failure and recovery specialists. You should leave the analysis of your hard disk problem to those who have the authority and knowledge so not to make the problem worse.

Jeremy Oms

Jeremy Oms

Jeremy is an entrepreneur and leading manager of New Blood, Inc. Excited about all things Internet related, Jeremy spends much of his time project managing custom web applications and directing advanced search engine optimization efforts.

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6 Comments »

  1. This post is very informative, especially for regular home users.

    Comment by Tom Nguyen — December 7, 2011 @ 3:22 pm

  2. This is so informative. I just suffered hard disk crashed. Now I’m not sure if its electronic failure or firmware corruption.
    When I plug the hard disk, it spins and makes a click every 1second. But the system doesn’t detect it at all. Its an external hard disk. Pls what can I do as their are no profession data recovery experts where I live.

    Comment by Tobi — May 21, 2013 @ 2:11 pm

  3. This is so informative. I just suffered hard disk crashed. Now I’m not sure if its electronic failure or firmware corruption.
    When I plug the hard disk, it spins and makes a click every 1second. But the system doesn’t detect it at all. Its an external hard disk. Pls what can I do as their are no profession data recovery experts where I live.
    Please I will be glad if u can reply to my email ztobscieng@gmail.com

    Comment by Tobi — May 21, 2013 @ 2:13 pm

  4. Jeremy Oms

    From our experience, the clicking sound means that you have some structural damage to the data reading mechanism (the arm reader) or the actual disc that spins in the hard drive. This unfortunately is the most difficult to recover from. This typically occurs when a hard drive is dropped or banged while spinning. The only way I know of recovering from this issue is to get an exact hard drive replica (exact model and version) and then go through a complex process of exchanging the arm reader from the broken hard drive with the properly working one. Unlike cars or other normal items, hard drives all have slightly different parts and it is very hard to get proper replacements for broken parts. This is not something we do for people and unfortunately, professionals that do offer help for this are very expensive.

    Comment by Jeremy Oms — May 21, 2013 @ 2:24 pm

  5. Nice Informative content. very Useful.

    Comment by Maria — June 27, 2013 @ 8:49 pm

  6. We should make sure that before buying any data recovery software, check the preview of the recoverable data using preview version of the software. If required data is previewed, only then opt for the product.
    I am saying this because Data can only be recovered if it is not overwritten. Once data is overwritten by any other data, it can not be recovered by any data recovery method.

    Comment by Adele — June 28, 2013 @ 12:53 am

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