Family Photo Album – Destruction on A Platter

 “What went wrong? I followed all the steps in the video. Why do I not have my data?”

Talking to people that have experienced this is the toughest part of my job. It’s tough because this never needs to happen and is completely preventable. It just takes understanding that there are times when things truly are best left to a professional. One of my recent encounters with a young mother who had ALL of her children’s photos on her home computer. She has two children, ages 2 and 5, and couldn’t live without these photos. So, I began asking questions to assess the situation.

The hard drive was a pretty typical Western Digital 1 TB external drive. So, I ask: How did you first notice that there was a problem? Did the drive fail during use? Did she attempt to access the drive and discover that the data was inaccessible? Was the drive making any unusual noises?

As she was attempting to answer my questions, she was relaying them to her husband. She told me that her husband heard the noises and would have him describe them to me. Her husband said that the drive had been making a buzzing/beeping sound and I informed him that his description indicated that the drive had stiction (read/write heads become stuck to the platters), which is normally caused by a sudden power interruption. This causes the read/write heads to land in the data area instead of moving back to their designated landing area.

This was a very good thing as the data is almost always recoverable from this type of failure.

So, I begin explaining the recovery procedure and tell them that even though the heads are very delicate in modern day hard drives, and there are usually some damaged areas, the data is almost always recoverable. I continue my inquiry about when the drive failed and, as always, asked what recovery attempts, if any, have been made. And this is where the story goes sideways….

It seems that he had always been mechanically inclined, so he starts researching and viewing YouTube videos. (I’m sure that you can already see where this is going.)

He saw a video and read articles that diagnosed the problem as a defective electronic board (created and posted by the people who conveniently sell their services for this repair). So being fairly handy at fixing things, he decided to remove the board and send it to them. After paying shipping charges and a $50 fee for the service, he re-installed the board and discovered that was not the problem after all (there was nothing wrong with his original board).

OK, back to the internet and more YouTube videos. Aha! Another video with more supporting articles that indicate the heads are stuck to the platters. I’m fairly adept at repairing things so I’ll just watch this video and do it myself…. Again….

Please do not get me wrong, there is a lot of great information on the internet.

I do a lot of research there and I have seen these videos. The adage “a little bit of knowledge is a dangerous thing” has never been more true than as it relates to these videos. Every video that I have viewed on hard drive recovery is based on a small kernel of truth. By the same token, almost every video that I have seen either leaves out vital information, promotes very dangerous techniques, or has outright false assumptions based upon miniscule slivers of fact.

I digress and apologize for the rant; back to the story…

The husband opens the drive and voila!, the heads are stuck to the platter just as the video said they would be.

“I’ll just move the heads back to the landing area, close everything up, and copy my data. J. I just saved a boatload of money.”

Feeling very proud, he replaces the cover and screws, hooks the drive up and was goes to copy their data, only now the drive is making a scratching noise and is clicking. The computer could not detect the drive. “What went wrong? I followed all of the steps in the video. Why do I not have access to my data?” When he re-opened the drive, he noticed scratches on the platter surface and felt a very uncomfortable feeling, a creeping sense of dread… 

Here is where story unfortunately ends. By attempting what looked like a very simple solution, he destroyed the photos of his children’s early years. Look, I understand the desire to save money. I understand the desire to not hire someone else for something that you think you can do yourself. But some things need to be left to professionals.

Carolina Data Recovery your family photo recovery expert.  Call us @ 704-536-1717 anytime between 6AM-9PM, 7 days per week for a free data recovery consultation.

“What do YOU have to lose?”