We have collected pictures of hard drives from some of the data recovery cases we received from our clients during past years.
Regrettably, some of these hard drives arrived to us in a condition where data recovery was not possible due to the severe mechanical damages.
We are providing some pictures with our comments for your review and educational purposes. We believe this will help you understand how fragile hard drives are.
We urge you to be careful with your laptop or desktop computers, as well as external hard drives. Regular backups will save your data in case of the hard drive crash.
This is a 1.8 inch hard drive from a laptop computer.
Same 1.8 inch hard drive as on above picture.
Dent on a disk platter from WD My Passport hard drive.
Photo taken with
Digital Microscope with 90x magnification. One of the read\write heads was hanging on the head arm after the impact. This drive fell on a floor. You can see the dent and micro dust particles that are not visible without the microscope.
Another Western Digital My Passport 2.5" hard drive. Digital Magnification to 90x.
We were able to recover required data before drive failed completely. This is why we suggest not to exhaust hard drives and take them to the experts right away.
Replacing seized spindle motor on Seagate SAS hard drive. The motor of this SAS drive rotates at 15000 RPM. Minor vibrations would cause the heads to be instantly destroyed. We use special tools that allow us to properly remove platters from the motor for platter transplant procedure.
This is a Seagate SATA hard drive. White filter has black dust on it. It is an indication of a scratched platter on one of the bottom surfaces. We had to disable read\write head for one of the surfaces. This hard drive was professionally cleaned before new set of heads was used. A lucky client! We managed to recover most of the family photos for this customer from 3 out of 4 surfaces. It was well worth the effort!
This Toshiba laptop hard drive was an emergency project. Drive failed while an accountant was finalizing a year-end for one of the businesses in Ottawa. Despite the scratch on the top platter, we were able to successfully recover 90% of the required data from this failing hard drive. Another lucky client!
Damaged read/write head from Western Digital 3.5 inch hard drive.
You may notice some tiny scratches on the element. That is enough to distort the airflow between the head and the disk platter while rotating at 5400 or 7200 RMP.
Picture has been taken in the lab with 90x Zoom.
This is the second head from the same Western Digital hard drive.
This head has been completely damaged and is no longer usable.
Reasons for such damage is either an impact, accumulation of dust, wear and tear.
Hitachi Deskstar 3.5 inch hard drive.
Illustration clearly shows that the media is beyond recovery due to the complete damage of the surface of the hard disk drive's platters.
It's a complete see-through example of how the damaged heads can completely scrape the surface of the platters.
Another Hitachi Travelstar 2.5 inch laptop hard drive.
Same problem as the hard drive above.
A deep circular scratch of the surface of the disk platter.
A severe damage of the surface of the disk platter from the Maxtor hard drive.
Older hard drive with many circular scratches all over the disk platters. Beyond recovery.
A five platter Seagate hard drive with another deep scratch near the spindle motor.
A hard disk we received after another company demonstrated their "unique skills".
Unfortunately not every company cares to own proper recovery tools, thus results are on the picture.
Motor was seized on this hard drive and someone "not so professional" tried rotating it by clamping the spindle by either vise or pliers, scratched the spindle motor so bad, pieces of aluminum were found all over the drive.
Shattered platters of Toshiba laptop hard drive.
Client insisted that the drive or laptop was not dropped.
Cause remained a mystery.
Damaged hard disk platter of Western Digital hard drive.
This hard drive came out of a dropped external hard drive.
Same hard drive as above. Closer look.
You will notice the filter is completely dirty, as it collected the dust that was scraped from the platter by the damaged heads.
Another Western Digital hard drive is beyond recovery.
A number of deep scratches all over the surface.
A single platter 3.5 inch SCSI hard drive with scratched platters.
Rotation of this hard drive was 15000 RPM.
Can not be recovered.
One more Western Digital hard drive whish is beyond recovery.
Another external dropped hard drive came out of Western Digital MyBook external drive.
On the left is the Western Digital drive we received from a customer. On the right is an identical (or supposed to be) donor drive.
Unfortunately, hard drive manufacturer decided to change the configuration of the heads on this drive and remove the top head while label on both drive was 100% identical, and therefore it must be a 100% match.
Another Western Digital hard drive.
Same problem as described above; however in this case it's even more interesting - one drive has two platters while another one three.
It was also supposed to be a 100% match according to the label on the drive...
Another scratched laptop hard drive.
Of course, beyond recovery.
With this tiny scratch there could've been a possibility to recover.
Unfortunately, the platter was warped.
Very high magnification at 90x Zoom.
Example of the hard drive platter exposed to air in a regular room.
Dust sticks to the platters like magnetic particles.
A full of dust hard drive is a candidate to a potential hard disk crash and platter scratch.
Data recovery companies that perform mechanical work without the use of special equipment and clean room stations risk loosing their client's data forever.
An old 380Mb Maxtor hard drive with five disk platters weights about 6 Lbs; however it failed only after celebrating its 23rd birthday.
This hard drive was manufactured by Maxtor in 1985, in Japan.
This is a 250Gb Western Digital hard drive.
Visually seems to be ok; however after careful examination we concluded that the disk platters have been warped.
We simply used a toothpick to rotate the platters to see the warp effect.
This usually happens either due to the impact or could also be a cause of a thermal shock - overheating.
This video clip was filmed in our lab and uploaded to youtube.
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