WD scratched platter 2

Please think twice about who you let open your hard disk drive…

In Blog, Unrecoverable Databy Administrator

Are you prepared to lose your data?

This is almost a repeat of a previous post. However, it is worth repeating, again and again, and again until people take notice. Hard disk drives are extremely delicate and sensitive devices. To recover data from them they need to be handled with extreme care, frequently within specialised work environments.

Yesterday a hard disk drive was brought in by its owner. He had been to the Trafford Apple Mac store who had recommended that he should seek data recovery services. Fortunately, at the Apple store, the staff know their limits and do not attempt much in the way of data recovery. That cannot be said for (one of) the two PC shops he had visited before the Apple store. As soon as the gentleman handed over the disk I noticed that the label on the front of the hard disk drive had been tampered with (to access a screw head) and that one of the screws from the hard disk was missing. Normally seeing such tampering is usually a sign that the drive has been mishandled, or has been investigated by another data recovery company.

Irresponsible behaviour opening a HDD

Unfortunately, on examination of the HDD, my suspicions were proved correct. The hard disk drive had been opened previously and has been handled in an appalling manner. Two images of the drive are posted below. There are scratches to the top platter surface where it looks as if someone has mishandled a screwdriver or other pointed object. Sadly it is impossible to recover data from a hard disk drive with this sort of physical damage.

Later on the same day, another gentleman phoned CDR asking about recovery from a hard disk drive that was making a clicking noise. It was explained that although the clicking sound usually indicates a serious failure with the head assembly the recovery rate can be very good in such instances of failure, assuming there has not been a ‘head crash’ causing damage to the platter surface.  If there is any damage to the platter surface it is very unlikely data will be recoverable.

Ridiculous excuses and methods of handling the platters

Then he asked, what happens if he had opened the drive… “Oh dear.” Not only had he opened the hard disk drive, but he had also moved the internal components, scratched the surface of the disk, left fingerprints on the platter, and even removed the platters.  Removing the platters requires quite some effort as it involves removing all the screws from the spindle motor, and in most cases will lead to platter misalignment, resulting in complete data loss.  He reassured me that when he had finished he polished the platters with a lint-free cloth! I think most readers will be unsurprised to know that our typical data recovery techniques do not involve a duster and a bottle of Mr Muscle.

Professional Data Recovery Only

When I mentioned about the dangers of letting PC Shops, IT Support companies and other IT professionals perform data recovery he did admit that he ran a PC Shop. So it looks as if yet another unsuspecting PC Shop customer has had all of their data destroyed by someone’s unwitting attempt to make a few quid. Please think twice about who you hand your disk to, check out the reviews of the company and ask them plenty of questions. You will quickly realise who knows how to handle a hard disk drive and perform data recovery appropriately. Try not to get tempted in with whoever gives the lowest quotation.