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A Typical Laptop-Sized External Hard Drive Failure

The failure of a previously healthy external which has not suffered any physical impact is an increasingly common fault that we see here in the labs at Tierra Data Recovery. It affects the 2.5″ size of external hard drives almost exclusively. In this instance the drive in question was removed from a Western Digital external enclosure and so began the Wd2500bevs recovery procedure.

The initial inspection of the chassis and printed circuit board showed nothing amiss and so (as is standard procedure here) we attempted to clone the drive.

It was evident that the drive was attempting (but failing) to spin up. A pulse could be felt through the chassis each time that the drive tried to spin up.

Almost always this behavior is cause by either the platter motor bearing becoming seized (this usually happens if the drive is dropped) or from the read/write heads becoming stuck to the platters. During normal operation the heads should never make physical contact with the platters, but sometimes after power-down the heads fail to park properly and become literally stuck to the platters. The friction is enough to prevent power-up.

The drive was taken to our clean room environment and opened to allow an internal inspection. Please don’t do this at home, if a drive is opened out-with a clean room environment you have just drastically cut the chances for recovery, if you need proof look at the policies of the professional data recovery companies, almost all either reuse to accept drives that have previously been opened or charge a hefty analysis fee for them.

In this case the issue proved to be that the heads were stuck to the platters, with care, experience and the correct equipment it is possible to free them without causing further damage. It proved subsequently possible to access the drive at which point it was cloned and the rest of the recovery analysis was carried out on that clone ultimately culminating in a full recovery for the happy client.

So if your hard drive is exhibiting these symptoms, don’t despair, send it to us here at tierradatarecovery.co.uk and let us show you what we can do.

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