The first part of our Hard Drive Data Recovery FAQ is here. The second part begins now!

My hard drive clicks or makes some other strange noise. What is the source of the noise?

Inexplicable noises can be produced by hard drives for a variety of reasons, and unusual noises do not necessarily indicate that your drive is unrecoverable. The following are the most common causes:

  • Inability to operate or damage to the motor that drives the spindle
  • Failure of the actuator heads on the hard drive, which are responsible for reading and writing data.
  • Failure of the spindle, which is responsible for spinning the platters and allowing the actuator heads to operate.

Noises coming from your hard disk tend to be a serious sign of a problem. It is highly recommended that you turn off your hard drive immediately if it stops functioning normally, even if it is still accessible. Operating the drive while it is in a failed state may result in irreversible data loss.

Is it possible to run data recovery software on a physically failed hard drive?

Running data recovery software will cause the hard drive to operate — and if the hard drive is physically damaged, this may result in the removal of the magnetic material that stores your data on the hard drive platters. Turning off the hard drive as soon as you notice signs of damage is recommended, especially if you hear unusual noises or if your operating system does not recognize the device.

Is it possible for the data recovery company to return my hard drive in a usable condition?

If the drive has been physically damaged, the answer is no. If your hard drive has suffered logical damage — for example, if you accidentally deleted files — it may still be usable in some cases. Our team will return your files on a separate device, such as an external hard drive or a flash drive, if you request it.

Is it possible for a regular consumer to remove or replace the printed circuit board (PCB) of the hard drive?

Our recommendation is to stay away from this kind of action. It is possible that the printed circuit board contains firmware that instructs the drive on how to operate. This firmware is specific to the drive in question, and it is written at the factory. Installing an incompatible printed circuit board from the same model of hard drive, even if you are able to locate one, may result in irreversible media damage. The only hard drives on which we can attempt data recovery are those that still contain all of their original components.

What is the significance of a cleanroom in the context of hard drive data recovery?

When it comes to operating and working on hard drives, extreme precision is required, and a series of filters prevent contaminants from entering the drive’s enclosure. Opening a hard drive in an unprotected environment introduces contaminants into the system and has the potential to permanently damage the media.

Data recovery engineers can safely repair or replace the physical components of a hard drive in a cleanroom that has been approved by the government. The ISO Class 5 cleanroom classification is the bare minimum for hard drive recovery; in the ISO classification system, lower numbers indicate fewer contaminants per cubic meter of air space. All of our cleanrooms have been certified as being in compliance with ISO Class 5 or Class 4 standards.

What factors contribute to a data recovery case being unrecoverable?

Hard drives store information on a thin layer of magnetic material that covers one or more platters and serves as a data storage medium. The information is read by the actuator heads without ever coming into contact with the platters. It is possible that the magnetic material on the platters can in fact be removed if the heads come into contact with them, and as a result of this, data recovery engineers will be unable to recover the data. They may, however, be able to read data from areas surrounding the damaged areas.
Additionally, when files are securely deleted — which means that the magnetic charges are completely overwritten — or when malicious software encrypts files with newer encryption algorithms, permanent data loss can occur.

Having said that, the vast majority of hard drive data recovery cases are successful. Recovery chances vary depending on the model and failure scenario, but we consistently achieve industry-leading success rates for all major hard drive brands, including Samsung, Western Digital and Seagate.

Is data recovery covered by the warranty on my hard drive?

In almost literally every case, hard drive warranties do not cover the costs of data recovery services. It is possible that the manufacturer will extend their warranty to cover certain data recovery services if a well-known flaw in the drive’s construction resulted in data loss directly (this is rare, however), or if the drive had vulnerabilities that allowed for a malicious attack (via a virus or ransomware). If you believe this is the case, you should contact the manufacturer of your drive. Most hard drive warranties, on the other hand, only cover the replacement of the physical hardware, and not the value of the contained data.

Will using data recovery services void the warranty on my hard drive?

No. Although warranty terms vary widely, all major hard drive manufacturers allow professional data recovery companies to open and repair drives during the course of their warranty. You’ll still be able to submit a request for a replacement device under warranty if you so choose.

My home or business insurance policy will cover data recovery from a hard drive, right?

There are some business insurance policies that provide coverage for hard drive data recovery; however, it is necessary to check with your insurance provider to determine whether your situation is covered. Most home insurance policies do not cover data recovery under normal circumstances, but we have worked with insurance providers who will reimburse us for our services if a drive is damaged by fire or flood, for example.

It is recommended that you contact your insurance provider for more information. The cost of data recovery can be prohibitively expensive (though this is not always the case), and if your insurance company will cover the costs, you’ll want to meticulously document the procedure. If you have insurance coverage, Hard Drive Recovery Group can assist you; simply inform us of your coverage when opening your case, and we’ll take the necessary steps.