Recover Data from a Damaged Hard Drive in 5 Easy Steps


A hard drive crash is the worst-case scenario for any data center. After all, a hard drive is an essential storage medium for any organization. What happens if one of these drives fails? What if you accidentally knock it off a table?

From a business perspective, the answer is simple: it’s catastrophic. But from a data recovery standpoint, it’s a cakewalk. Hard drives lose data at an alarming rate, and the only way to prevent this from happening is to regularly back up your data. If you’re unable to do so, you should assume that your drive has failed and replace it immediately.

As drives become older and older, their failure rates increase as well. This is because the noisier the drive gets, the faster it spins and the more often it crashes. Even so, it’s always good to know how to recover data from a damaged hard drive. This guide will show you the 5 steps you need to take in order to recover data from a damaged hard drive.

What happens when a hard drive crashes?

When a hard drive crashes, the read/write heads are no longer able to stay at one point on the disk. The drive then spins and vibrates, throwing off the head’s positioning. This can cause the head and the platter to scratch or bend. In extreme cases, the platter can even break, causing the drive to be unusable.

When you have data recovery software on a hard drive, the data is actually stored on tiny magnetic particles. A hard drive is essentially a huge stack of tiny recorders that can write to those particles but can’t read them. To read the information on the disk, you need a special disk drive that can read the surface of the disk; much like a CD drive can read a CD. The head of the drive reads the surface of the disk and moves across it, recording bits and sending them to the drive’s electronics. The electronics then read the bits and send them to your PC.

How to Recover Data from a Damaged Hard Drive

There are five steps for recovering data from a damaged hard drive:

  • Take the drive out of the computer and store it safely.
  • Check the drive’s read/write heads for damage. If necessary, clean them using a soft cloth and a mild cleaner.
  • Place the drive into a hard drive enclosure to protect it from shock. A hard enclosure can protect your drive from the shock of dropping it on the ground or the floor, and make it less likely to be damaged in other ways.
  • Check the connectors on the back of the drive for damage. If necessary, replace them.
  • Back up your data.

Backup is Key

A good backup is the best way to protect your data from damage, loss, or theft. It doesn’t matter if you use a cloud-based or on-premise backup solution, if the backup is done via a traditional tape backup, or even via an application like iTop Data Recovery. What matters is that you have a backup strategy. The best way to protect yourself against the consequences of a hard drive crash is to regularly back up your data. If you’re unable to do this, assume that your drive has failed and replace it immediately. If a drive fails, your data is most likely gone forever. You won’t be able to get it back. This is why it’s crucial to backup your data regularly.

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