The problem of physical media damage may surface in a number of ways. Sometimes, the magnetic layer on the media gets damaged. In other cases, the mechanical parts of your disk may crash, such as head crashes or failed motors. Physical damage is usually accompanied by some data loss. In the worst cases, it can also impact the logical structure of your file system. A few common signs of physical damage to your hard disk include loud winding sound or occasional clicking sound, unresponsiveness, and drive mount failure. In case your drive is exposed to water, the logic board or the housing unit of the media is likely to get damaged beyond repair. In a majority of situations, the recovery of data from physically damaged media cannot be performed under normal conditions. It requires hardware or technical expertise to carry out such recovery.
Data Recovery companies do a good job of salvaging data from physically damaged storage devices using sophisticated tool and techniques. The recovery process may involve replacing the disk’s mechanical parts and then creating an image of the media to extract every bit of recoverable information. Some of the common recovery techniques are discussed below:
- Hardware Repair
If your disk has encountered an electronic, mechanical, or firmware failure, it would require efficient data recovery services of a renowned organization. A data recovery service provider usually employs skilled technicians who safely handle the damaged media. The hardware repair technique requires technicians to open the disk in a highly controlled environment, replace the damaged media parts, and recover data from good sectors. This may include removing the damaged PCB or removing the disk platters from the damaged drive.
- Disk Imaging
The image of the disk is taken and saved on a reliable media. This image is used to reconstruct the file system and repair any logical damage. Once the file system is reconstructed, data can be restored from the image in a usable form. The process allows reading data from bad sectors by issuing various read commands. You may also disable certain features of the disk (such as SMART and G-List re-mapping) to speed up the imaging process.
The sterile environment in which damaged hard disks are opened is known as CLASS 100 Clean Room. The Clean rooms provide dust-free, anti-static environment that prevents further degradation of the media parts. Typically, a CLASS 100 Clean Room lab has less than 100 dust particles of 0.5 microns per cubic foot of air.