Handy Tips to Recover Data From Permanently Damaged Hard Drive

Everyone uses spare hard drives these days; external storage devices that serve as the perfect backup destination. However, I doubt people realize the risks and threats involved with using hard drives to store crucial data. And when I say hard drives, I don’t mean just external hard drives; this includes the internal hard drives mounted on laptops and PCs too.

If you are looking for hard drive data recovery, you have landed on the correct page. The blog mentions the recommended ways for retrieving data from a damaged hard drive.

There could be number of things that can go wrong with a hard drive. For starters, one day it’s working fine and the next day, you plug it in or switch on your computer to discover ‘Nothing’. No boot up, no file access, absolutely nothing. It can be baffling and panic triggering at the same time. Baffling as to what happened there, panic triggering concerning the safety of the data on it.

So what should you immediately do if you find yourself in such a situation one day? While screaming might sound justified, there are a few things you can try out before thinking of running to a hard drive service center. And what are those few things? Well, you’ll have to read on to find out.

Starting with the basics – there are 2 ways a hard drive can be damaged

Yes, this is required. You need to understand what kind of damage has struck your hard drive in order to know how to deal with it.

1. Mechanical Failure

While magnetic hard drives (platter based) are more susceptible to this kind of failure, it may happen to some SSDs too. A mechanical failure is when there is something physically wrong with the drive. Wear and tear over years of continued usage, mishandling or dropping the hard disk, breaking or short-circuits in internal parts can be reasons behind such damage.

Hard Disk

You’ll know if your hard drive has been mechanically damaged if on trying to access the data on it, you can hear a distinguishable clicking sound. When a hard drive suffers a mechanical failure, there is little you can do to help. Professional help is your best bet in such a case so you might have to take it to a hard drive recovery service center.

As far as the safety of the data is concerned, take assurance in the fact that the through a hard drive data recovery software, the data can well be recovered once the hard drive has been repaired and made to work again.

2. Logical Failure

As compared to a mechanical failure, a logical failure is as soothing as good news. That’s because logical failures mean something’s wrong at the software front.

Such damages usually arise due to:

  • Interruptions during data transfer.
  • Sudden power surges.
  • Unexpected computer shutdown while the hard drive is in operation.
  • Improper ejection of the hard drive.
  • Accidental format or deletion of data, etc.

On being struck with a logical failure, the hard drive won’t make any noises, but it won’t boot up or let you access the data. And here’s the good part – you can do a lot to recover the data on your own rather than having to go to a service center.

Read: How to Recover Data from Dead PC/Desktop – Top 3 Methods

What Should You Immediately Do If The Hard Drive Fails?

When a hard drive fails, or you accidentally format it or delete data from it, the data doesn’t disappear. It stays on the drive until something else is overwritten on it.

Usually, with a properly working hard drive, all data has its own dedicated storage space. Deleted data or formatted storage or in this case, storage on the failed hard drive is marked as “fit for overwriting”.

So, if your hard drive fails, you’ll need to take care to stop working on it immediately. Even if you’re not directly accessing the data on it, your computer is probably writing something to it thereby risking your shot at data recovery. Once the data is overwritten, there’s no any chance of getting it back. So shutdown the computer that is connected to the hard drive and unplug it.

Thereafter, connect the hard drive to another computer as a secondary drive (non boot-up drive) and see if it shows up there. Even if it doesn’t, you can try to clone it and recover data from the clone. There are some great software available that help you in creating the clone.

Recovery of Data from Dead or Corrupt Hard Drive With Software

Once the faulty hard drive has been repaired or you’ve managed to create its clone through some software, recovering the data on it becomes relatively simple through a reliable and efficient hard drive data recovery software. There are a number of good software available for this purpose like Stellar Data Recovery Professional for Windows.

Free download

Recover Damaged Hard Drive Data With Hardware

To know if you need to replace some hardware on the drive to get it back to life, you’ll need to assess the level of the problem the hard drive is in. For this, consider the following scenarios:

1. Is the drive making no sounds on being connected or accessed?

If the drive isn’t making any clicking or other sounds at all, it isn’t spinning at all. That is a clear indication of an issue with the drive’s PCB (the green circuit board attached to the bottom of the drive). In such a case, you’ll need to replace the PCB with a matching one from another matching hard drive.

However, you should know that this technique wouldn’t work with most modern drives that have a unique microcode attached to them. For such drives, you’ll need to locate the TVS diodes (fuse) on the drive and test them with a multimeter to see if either of them has shortened. These diodes fuse if you attach the wrong power adapter to the drive or experience a power surge. If any of the diodes reads 0 ohms on the multimeter, it has shortened. Just remove it and voila!

If the problem is something else, replacing the PCB might be the only option. You’ll probably need to buy a new matching one from the manufacturer or an online seller.

2. Is the drive making clicking noises on connecting or accessing?

As mentioned earlier, this is a job for the data recovery service center or professionals.

3. Is the drive detected by the computer and spinning but hangs on accessing?

Such a scenario is an indication of a large amount of bad sectors. This usually happens to hard drive with years of continued usage. Either use free BIOS accessing utilities that can skip bad sectors to read the data or send the drive to a data recovery service center if you’re not sure, but want the data recovered.

4. Is the drive making a beeping sound on powering up?

This is an indication of a mechanical failure. Either the drive is suffering from stiction (read/write heads of the drive parking over the data area of the platter instead of their dedicated ramp when not in use) or a seizure of the motor spindle around which the platters rotate (this can happen due to dropping of the drive). Both these failures need the drive to be opened and thus need it to be sent to a data recovery service center.

5. Is the drive sounding normal but is not detected or detected with the wrong capacity?

This indicates a problem with some area of the firmware. For drives manufactured a few years back, there was a DIY solution for it. However, modern drives with this problem need to be sent to a data recovery service center to be repaired.

Final Words

While opting for handy fixes may sound interesting, you should know it is a risky job. If your data is not worth the risk, don’t waste time and take the drive to a hard drive data recovery center.

  1. Rakesh Rai January 6, 2020
    • Aruna Attri January 9, 2020

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