Seagate 500GB 7200.10

When you can tell data is unrecoverable just by looking at the outside of the disk

In Blog, Unrecoverable Data by Administrator

Unrecoverable Hard disk drive?

Rather a long title to this post, but you are probably asking your self, just how? No we don’t have X-ray vision here. Or special (fictional) tools we see on TV in CSI that we can wave over a hard disk drive. Take the picture below of a 500GB Seagate HDD. This HDD was received in this week from a local PC shop.The picture is a little blurry, but can you tell why this data is unlikely to be recovered? Look carefully.

Seagate 500GB 7200.10In fact I’ve made it a little easier by exaggerating the issue myself just to give you a chance – notice in the top right hand corner the white sticky label looks as if it has been peeled back. On close inspection it looks as if the white sticker has been peeled back to reveal the security screw underneath it.

So why does this make the data unrecoverable?

Well it doesn’t per se. However it indicates to us that it is likely that someone has exposed the screw to undo it, and accessed the hard disk assembly (HDA) and exposed the platters. In nearly all cases when the owner/PC shop has accessed the HDA and exposed the platter surface we find the data is unrecoverable. This is because they do not handle the disk appropriately and contaminate or damage the very sensitive components in the HDA. In this case we found a fingerprint on the platter surface and a scratch on the platter surface where someone has tried to move the head assembly. As such what was likely to be a good opportunity to recover the data has been lost.

I cannot express this clearly enough: if you want to recover your data DO NOT open the hard disk drive and expose the platters. You are not going to make matters better, and most likely they will become worse, very quickly.