Atomic Storage and Data Recovery

When it comes to data recovery of a failed storage disk drive, the importance of stopping trying to access a faulty or failing device cannot be overemphasised.

Most of the unrecoverable drives that R3 Data Recovery technicains see have sufficient damage visible by the naked eye, microscope or detectable by swabbing the platters, heads or filters for debris created during a head crash.

However as storage density increases the importance of getting a failed disk to a data recovery lab also increases. Too many drives go through several power cycles in the hope that they will come back to life , and some do, but it is the extra risks taken that prevent even the best data recovery experts being able to help once a drive has been repeatedly powered up.

Gone are the days when just swapping a PCB might allow a drive to be recovered, the tolerances within which the head stack is calibrated to the platters reduces year on year and requires skilled technicians either transferring ROM information, fixing firmware faults or changing motors or heads in a clean room to achieve consistently high success rates.

Consequently even minor damage at the atomic level to a platter can be severe enough to prevent the heads reading sectors containing key information needed to detect and read the data stream.

Similarly SSD drives are also failing if corruption to their controllers or boot sectors occurs when just a few transistors fail, despite wear levelling algorithms helping to extend an SSD drives useable life, in reality they are as at risk of failure as hard drives and transistors are dying each time the drive is powered on.

Automatic error checking of the files / file system ensures the stability and integrity of data but in reality be it solid state or magnetic recording media, if sufficient sectors are affected, access to the rest of the data can be lost.

A solution may one day be developed that can overcome these obstacles and also points to how far we have yet to go before reaching the maximum storage capacity of a single drive.

4 Years ago the first 5TB drives were being hinted at, with theoretical potential of 10TB drives being possible within a few years, we do now have 4TB drives available to consumers and already we have recovered many of these.

But to really get an idea of how far storage manipulation can go consider how we can now control individual atoms, the day of having sufficient storage and computer processing power to essentially recreate a data stream or matter in another location does not seem that futuristic, and potentially solutions to drives declared unrecoverable today could become reality in the future. After all we can already make movies at the atomic level:


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