As technology has advanced in the recent years, the demand for higher capacity and faster storage devices has increased. However, increasing speed and capacity carries issues when it comes to data recovery.
With new drives being released quite regularly, in some cases each year, how those drives work and perform can change in varying degrees, so here at R3 Data Recovery we are always learning and trying to find the quickest solutions to the problems that occur with these devices increasing in capacity and speed.
Millions of pounds are invested by companies such as Western Digital and Seagate to create these new super-fast larger capacity drives, however they sometimes aren’t as good as you would initially believe a new product to be. We have seen drives as young as 6 months old come into the lab for a recovery, and not down to it being dropped or mistreated but just due to the drive naturally failing. This could be caused by the drives Firmware or a build-up of bad sectors/bad blocks. But nevertheless they still fail, which isn’t beneficial for anyone.
The point of this article is not to tell you that these new faster drives aren’t good because generally they are, not all of them fail within weeks or months. Some for example may last 20+ years in extreme cases. But all drives do fail sooner or later. That is the eventuality of every hard drive we use.
As we are now seeing more and more demand for higher capacities and smaller form factor, there are several problems faced with packing so much storage into a small space…
Even the latest revision/model drives are prone to premature failure/firmware bugs caused by a variety of external/internal causes.
One of the key steps to recovering data from high capacity & potentially failing drives is to gain access to the internal HDD software, and to also gain control over the ever-increasing number of read/write heads the drive has.
Once this is achieved, data access should also be possible, except in the case of SED (Self-Encrypting Drives) where further firmware patching/modification is needed.
If you have a drive that you think is having these problems get in touch with us. You can either call us on 0800 999 3282 or alternatively email us at email@example.com
Are all data recovery cases recoverable?
To be blunt no.
While R3 takes pride in its track record of recovering cases deemed unrecoverable by others it is not the case that given enough resources time money etc. all data can be recovered.
R3 Data Recovery have adopted a different philosophy to data recovery than others in that rather than looking at each case from a business perspective we treat highly problematic cases as research and development projects.
While others may regard cases as unrecoverable due to complexities beyond their capabilities and will not spend significant time on cases they deem unprofitable if working for a low recovery fee, customers are for the most part not advised that the investment of time and often donor disk can result in the recovery of data in cases that aren’t relatively straight forward. The use of the word relatively cannot though be emphasised strongly enough, data recovery is a highly complicated and specialized skill in all its areas, most genuine data recovery labs are very good at what they do but people requiring the services of a lab need to know that there are some out there offering data recovery services that do not actually have a lab and simply offer a service and at best outsource recovery services to another company or worse still attempt recoveries themselves without the skills or the tools required.
Something that is concerning is the number of cases we see where by a home user has attempted to fix the problem with the disk themselves or very alarmingly cases whereby experienced IT professionals have attempted to carry out work with no real knowledge of what they are trying to do. The cases we see when mechanical disks are sent to us previously opened with contaminants such as dust and even fingerprints is frightening from the perspective of a data recovery company, it isn’t as though there is a big red reset button on the inside that will make the drive work, as for poking the platters (or and yes this has happened, wiping the platters with a cloth) don’t get us started, mechanical hard disks should not be opened by anyone not experienced in data recovery.
While we appreciate this might and probably does sound alarmist, there are many myths surrounding data recovery such as the freezer myth that if you put a hard disk in a freezer for several hours it will start working again this is simply not true although some people, even IT professionals who risk data by advocating practices like this. R3 have been involved in R and D projects involving the lowering of temperatures for solid state devices unrelated to mechanical hard disk but a normal hard disk is just that, a mechanical device. If you had a large enough freezer would you put your car in it to try and fix the engine? Of course not.
The fact of the matter is that some disks sustain such severe damage that nothing can be done, this is one of the reasons that certain rules need to be followed when dealing with a failed hard disk, continually applying power to a failed disk will eventually cause this kind of irreversible damage.
What we advise to all our clients in all cases is simple, before acting too quickly and contacting the cheapest, the local one who fixed your printer, or even considering trying to get the data back yourself; what is the data really worth? Do you have a backup somewhere? Can you recreate the data? If you’re reading this the answers to the questions are probably no, and the data is more than likely worth employing the services of a highly skilled data recovery company.
Much like most other things in life, hard disks are not totally resistant to failure. Often, we are asked about how long hard disks last and to put it bluntly there is no definitive answer because of the various ways in which disks can fail.
A hard disk can be dropped when brand new or when it is many years old but under normal operation every mechanical hard disk will fail given a long enough time line. In most cases it is down to luck how long a hard drive will last. We have seen disks fail after only a few weeks but on the other extreme seen disks which are 20 years old before they fail.
It is always worthy to check after purchasing an external hard disk as some manufacturers offer an extended warranty for registering the product with them, although it will only cover replacing a failed disk after a set period of time but NOT helping you get your data back!
How Do Hard Disks Fail
Media degradation is one of the more common failures of hard disks which occurs when the platters holding the data begin to break down to a point where the disk cannot function normally. Typical symptoms would be the disk appearing to need formatting, showing as holding no data or will otherwise seem to operate perfectly with regard to spinning etc but will not be accessible. It is common but by no means restricted to older disks.
Mechanical failures most often (but no exclusively) occur after an impact even a slight one and most commonly whilst the drive is spinning at the time. Dropped disks, disks which are knocked over are cases we see frequently. Typically drives with a mechanical failure will behave in one of the ways in that they will make a clicking noise or another abnormal noise such as beeping or a laboured noise as though the disk is trying to spin but can’t.
Firmware failures are slightly harder to diagnose as they can display the symptoms of other more common failures such as the disk spinning and appearing to operate normally with no access to the data.
Power surges, incorrect application of PSU’s are the most common cause of disks failing electronically recognised quite simply due to the disk not spinning at all with no ability to even attempt to spin. There is often a misunderstanding with these failures that swapping the circuit board (PCB) with that from a similar disk will result in regaining access to the data, in truth this can actually cause more damage than was wrong with the disk initially.
Logical – OS Overwrites/Deleted Data
It is all too easy to accidentally delete a file and too often we see disks which have had the operating system installed over the previous one containing data which was needed. As long as nothing is done after the overwrite or deletion recovery is possible.
What Is Data Recovery?
Data recovery is a combination of procedures required to regain access to data which has been lost in some way whether it be the failure of a hard disk(s) or accidental deletion of data.
What Should I Do If My Hard Disk Fails
The most important thing to do after a hard disk fails or data is lost initially is to do nothing. If data is deleted for example, installing software in an attempt to recover the last data on the same hard disk can cause further data loss. If a disk fails mechanically and is then subsequently powered up in an attempt to regain access to the data this will eventually cause further data to the disk to the point where no-one can recover the data.
For these and a few other reasons it is best to initially do nothing but seek out the assistance of a professional data recovery company.
Why Choose R3?
R3 Data Recovery is one of several data recovery companies who carry out all data recovery services in house and in no instance, outsource the work to third parties. Our data recovery head office is based in totally secure premises covered by CCTV and 24/7 onsite security personnel. Our recovery infrastructure is based on a standalone network with no external access. The recovery laboratory is only accessible by R3 staff.
How Do You Get My Data Back
There is no magic wand to recovering lost data, it is done by specialist staff using specialist equipment unique from any other sector of IT. We have a very high recovery success rate and customer satisfaction rating, please see some testimonials placed on an independent review site – Reviews.co.uk
If you want any further information about our service please feel free to contact us on free phone 0800 999 3282 or fill out our online diagnostic form on the right to get your no cost, no obligation quote.
A hard disk drive (HDD), is a data storage device that uses magnetic storage to store and retrieve digital information using one or more inflexible rapidly rotating disks (platters) coated with magnetic material. The platters are paired with magnetic heads, usually arranged on a moving actuator arm or stack, which read and write data to the platter surfaces. When you power up a hard drive to use or in the case of the lab at R3 Data Recovery to test, you can usually determine whether or not a drive is in good condition or a bad one from the sounds it makes.
In the case of the drive making a slight initialising click shortly after the drive spins up and then spinning smooth with a gentle vibration, this generally indicates the drive should be in decent condition.
If the drive spins up and then starts to click repeatedly and then spins down, the heads are damaged and the drive has a mechanical fault. Sometimes the clicking can be accompanied with beeping. This is obviously a sign that the drive is in bad condition.
Here are some examples:
(Bad condition HDD spins up, clicks then powers down)
First of all a RAID provides a different kind of stability than a singular external hard drive can, mainly in factors such as reliability, availability, performance, and capacity. A RAID 1 for example can provide protection against failure of a single physical drive by essentially storing an identical copy of data on a second hard drive in the same array.
A RAID we received this week in the lab had a total number of 12 hard drives housed in a QNAP server (QNAPs Network Attached Storage (NAS) are systems that consist of one or more hard drives that are constantly connected to the internet. The QNAP becomes your backup “hub”, or storage unit that stores all your vital files and media such as photos, videos and music).
The arrangement of the drives and their respective image drives was handled speedily and precisely by everyone involved here at R3 Data Recovery.
This allowed the process of cloning the drives to begin swiftly. When attempting to recover a RAID with this many drives good preparation is important, for things as simple as keeping track of all the drives can become confusing with so much data going to multiple destinations simultaneously.
With singular drives things mentioned previously do no not really come into play. And therefore generally are much simpler tasks to manage. Without divulging into the technicalities of the actual recovery, of which an engineer would be much more suited to explain, in this case and example the R3 team applied themselves with great competence and the job is well on the way to recovery.
During the last week at R3 Data Recovery, we have received a number of jobs of different manufacture and size. Over the course of a year we receive many, but in this particular case we will focus on a single week. By using this perspective alone may seem short-sighted, but actually it can outline a common correlation of fault that could prove invaluable to the customer for future reference.
So out of the volume of job last week, there were a number of flash devices, hard drives, both internal and external and even a few mobile devices. However the highest intakes of jobs were hard drives. The most common manufacturer of the faulty hard drives was Seagate followed by Western Digital and the odd Toshiba and Hitachi. To isolate the type of drive further, the most common were external drives. This is interesting as it can show that external drives are more prone to failure and/or more commonly at the centre of an accident by the customer.
This is can be due to the fact that they are not fixed inside a desktop machine or laptop as an internal drive is. The internal drive is less likely to get knocked or damaged due to its secure positioning inside the desktop. The external drive however is more open to these dangers. Nether the less both types of hard drive due eventually fail regardless of accident or circumstance.
But just by looking at the weekly inflow of jobs you can highlight that Seagate are a common manufacturer, possibly down to popularity, pricing and the size of the company, but they are also the most common drive we have received with a fault this particular week. And furthermore that the external hard drives are the most common generally that we received.
Some customers don’t understand the importance of packaging their hard drives when sending them into us using couriers.
Just one example that we have recived in the lab today, a person wrapping their “precious” data in a tesco carrier bag.
Be careful people!! When replacing your hard drive, laptop, desktop or any device that has a hard disk users are often not aware that even if you have deleted your data/reinstalled the operating system it is still possible to regain that data if one is so inclined.
Unless you deal with your hard disk in the correct manner there is a real danger your photos, documents or anything that was stored on your device will fall into the wrong hands.
Low Level Sector by Sector Wipe
The safest way to ensure this doesn’t happen is to perform a low level sector by sector wipe to ensure the data cannot be recovered.
If you are a business the rules are very different and there is even legislation governing how businesses store and erase their data.
R3 offers a secure inexpensive wiping service that can even in some cases be free of charge, please call 0800 999 3282 for more details or click here and fill out the online form for immmediate help and assistance.
Not only do we deal with data recovery we also offer the following services:
- Hard Drive Recertification
- Cloning & Imaging
- Secure Wiping
- Hard Drive Destruction
- Hard Drive Recycling