Western Digital 1TB HDD

HDD Data Recovery Services

All hard disk drives work on the same principle. Hard disks are a non-volatile storage device that stores digitally encoded data on rapidly rotating platters with magnetic surfaces. The data is accessed by read/write heads attached to the end of the actuator arm. These float a very small distance from the platter surface. For detailed information about hard disk drives please see our “How do HDDs work?” page.

Hard disks are very fragile and it is necessary to handle the drives with extreme care. Physical shock to the hard disk typically leads to head assembly failure. Hard disk drives can also fail for a number of other reasons, including circuit board failure due to power surge, firmware corruption, and unreadable sectors.

Manufacturers of HDDs we recover data from:

Seagate Maxtor Western Digital IBM ExcelStor Simmtronics
Hitachi Samsung Fujitsu Toshiba Quantum HP


Typical hard disk failures include:

Read/Write head failure, head misalignment, motor seizure.

All of these failures are typically indicated by a clicking or tapping sound. Often these are a result of the hard disk drive sustaining a physical shock. To recover data in these cases it is necessary to dismantle the hard disk drive in a clean environment and replace the failed parts with those of a matching donor hard disk.

Corrupt firmware modules, NVRAM or ROM failure.

These are the components that contain the software code that allow a hard disk drive to function. If these are corrupt then a hard disk will fail to read any of the data areas. Symptoms can include a hard disk drive sounding normal but not being detected in the BIOS or being detected with an incorrect model number.

Printed circuit board (PCB) failure, head pre-amplifier failure.

Often these are a result of a power surge, or an incorrect power supply being used. In the case of a failed PCB, the hard disk drive will not spin up. Often the PCB will get very hot and on occasion components on the PCB will show burn marks.

Corrupt partition table or filesystem, deleted or missing files, formatted drive.

Filesystem corruption can be a result of incorrect removal/ejection of a device (particularly common for memory sticks and Apple Mac computers). Accidental deletion or formatting of a device can happen on any system. If this is the case it is important to turn the computer off and not to use the HDD again. Attempting to install software or downloading software to the HDD which has the lost data will significantly reduce the chances of successful recovery.

Unreadable (bad) sectors – symptoms include blue screens, inaccessible data, hanging operating system, slow reading of files.

The platter surface is becoming more difficult to read. Sector response times are high (over 500ms). Extended attempts to read the platter can result in further degradation. It is necessary to copy the data from the HDD using a dedicated data recovery hardware tool. For example, use of Deepspar Disk Imager, AceLabs Data Extractor or Salvation Data Compass.

Although there are similar failures across the various manufacturers, there are trends amongst drive manufacturers. Frequently seen failures include:

  • Seagate:   Barracuda 7200.11 firmware failure (LBA 0/Busy)
  • Western Digital:   Power surge resulting in PCB motor controller failure
  • Western Digital:   Integrated ROM failure in WD5000AAKS ROYL series
  • Western Digital: Slow Responding Fault
  • IBM:   Deskstar Head assembly failure
  • Hitachi:   Travelstar Seized motor due to actuator arm stuck on the platter surface
  • Maxtor:   Firmware corruption

All data recovery work undertaken by CDR is on a free diagnosis and a “No-recovery, “No-fee” policy.

Please do not attempt to open the cover of a hard disk. Exposing the platter surface outside of controlled electrostatic and Class 100 clean air conditions can result in complete data loss due to platter contamination or damage.