These days when we have a problem, particularly computer related, it is common to search the internet for help, seeking a solution which will fix the issue. Although there are many solutions posted on blogs, technology and video sites, they need to be approached with caution as many could make your problem worse and lead to a total loss of data.
Our data recovery engineers always carefully analysis the state of any hard disk drive arriving for data recovery before proceeding the process. Attaching a drive to a computer and turning it on without undertaking this assessment could make the problem worse, particularly there is a problem with the spindle motor or damage to the read/write head stack. Professional data recovery is the only sensible choice if the drive is making strange noises, such as scraping or clicking noises.
Disk Must Not Be Opened
If your drive is making buzzing and clicking noises, a quick search will reveal a number of videos giving guidance on fixing the problem. If the data is of no value this approach may be useful, but a hard disk should only be opened with a clean data recovery laboratory environment, as most homes and offices are usually full of dust, which can cause the read/writes to fail if they hit any, crashing into platters and causing untold damage.
Another important factor is whether you intend to return the drive under manufacturer warranty, as breaking the seals will invalidate it. Data recovery companies will only open a drive when it is absolutely essential and place stickers on the reassembled drive denoting that the disk was opened for data recovery purposes, which will not invalidate the warranty.
Sounds Too Good to Be True
The amount of anecdotal evidence and misinformation about different problems is considerable, but read the comments and you will find the solutions only work for a small number of people. One such solution proposed is freezing the drive, but only a temporary fix, if it works at all. It is likely to be a one hit fix and once it fails again the drive will almost certainly be totally unrecoverable, even for data recovery specialists. Another common suggestion is to twist or tap the drive, but these are likely to make the problem worse more times than it fixes the issue and may cause damage to the read/write heads or the spindle motor assembly.
When the problem is failed electronics or firmware related, there are many published solutions which involve using a donor controller card to replace the faulty one. This sounds a simple solution to the problem, but the donor controller card must match in every way, including the firmware revision. This however, is not the whole solution as each controller card contains a chip which stores essential information such as the initialisation data and the defects lists, without which the drive may not come ready or return incorrect data blocks. In order for the drive to work correctly the chip must be unsoldered and transferred, which involves advanced soldering techniques.
Without this data, the drive may not even spin up, come ready or return incorrect data blocks.
Effect on Data Recovery
Attempting to use one of the fixes found online to solve a physical problem, such as read/write heads, spindle motor assembly failure or a controller board issue may result in further unnecessary damage. Repeated attempts to start the drive may also cause additional damage, which may also cause further damage to the electronics. In the worst case this could result in a total loss of data.
If the warranty is unimportant or the data held on the disk is of no value, you have nothing to lose by making DIY attempts at recovering your data. However, if the data is important, under no circumstances should you attempt to recover the data yourself. This holds true for all types of storage media, from tapes, USB storage devices and RAID arrays. When important data is involved, you should never take any risks which could result in additional damage or data loss, as it could complicate the recovery procedure or even make it impossible for a professional data recovery company to recover your files.