Recovering Important Data from a Clicking Hard Drive

Published: 15th March 2012
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All the elements of modern hard drives, right down to the torque settings of the screws factor into the overall operation so when a drive is clicking and important data isn't backed up you might want to call somebody more familiar with the problem. Crashed hard drives are unpredictable and you only have a limited number of chances to get your data back; there are specialized companies with staff experienced in taking apart hard drives in clean room facilities.

A lot of new fast-moving businesses at one time or another run into computer problems where some important data hasn't gotten backed-up and the computer holding it is clicking in the neighborhood of the hard drive. The first thing to do when you hear a whining, clicking, or grinding hard drive is run for a blank CD to try and back up all you can. You may get error messages or the "Blue Screen of Death". The computer may have frequent freezes or hang ups where the only solution seems to be to reboot.

You can try creating a boot disk and run Windows Scandisk set to fix errors automatically. If it sees more than a few corrupted areas then it's best to back up your data if possible for the hard drive is on its last legs. When the heads are bad the clock is ticking and you may only have several chances to recover the files you didn't get around to backing up. When you can't get at your data, one way that data recovery is attempted is to get a matching hard drive and use the undamaged part to read the broken disk.

A basic procedure for retrieving data from a hard drive where the heads are doing a tap dance involves taking off the cover and doing a 'head swap' with a hard drive from the same batch. This shouldn't be done lightly because changing the factory-set pressure on the screws can ruin the drive worse than before. It's not a good idea to try to open up the hard drive on your own. A data recovery laboratory is equipped with special screwdrivers that can measure the torque so that the cover can be put back with the identical pressure.

When considering a head swap you must locate a hard drive from the same manufacturer's batch that's close in serial number and within 2 weeks of the manufacture date. Matching parts is crucial in this process. E-Bay is a good source for buying a certain drive: data recovery experts and others attempting a head swap may have to wait a week or two to find a suitable match. If the drive is close enough, you can clone the new head onto the failed drive and get the alignment set. Then recovery of the lost data is possible.

Both the broken drive and the parts drive have to be disassembled carefully. The heads shouldn't come into contact with each other. The top magnet has to come off, and then the limiter is removed so that the heads can come off. The technician then does the swap and re-assembles the drive and applies power to scan it and recover the data for the client.

The inexperienced should avoid trying this method of data recovery since many things can go wrong; there are fragile areas inside the drives that can be damaged easily. A courier can take your hard drive to your hard drive to data recovery experts where experienced technical staff have the necessary tools and clean room facilities to work in so that dust can't corrupt the inner workings of the hard drive units.

Pat Boardman is an SEO consultant writing in respect to Kenedacom Data Recovery computer service firm specializing in computer file recovery for hard drives, laptops, RAID arrays, disks, tapes, and servers in Montreal.

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