Yet another attempted data recovery was thwarted today by the dreaded head crash. We have seen possible head problems with these drives and were not surprised when the drive didn’t come ready and identify. This particular drive, an ST96812AS from a MacBook Pro was giving off some interesting sound effects to say the least. Expecting the usual failed read/write head we took it into the cleanroom and removed the cover. This drive had clearly had a head crash. Not only was a large area of magnetic media forcefully gouged off by a stray head but there was also a faint scrape towards the outer edge. We have seen this minor damage on these drives before and still been able to recover some data, although the read/write heads don’t tend to last very long. Data recovery after a head crash like this one is impossible and will be a waste of donor parts and spare drives.
News of the Hitachi 5K250 drive was today posted to Engadget. This 5,400rpm drive now boasts capacity up to 250GB and has started shipping in volume. Coming in both SATA 3Gbps & 1.5Gbps interfaces. The drive also features Hitachi’s Bulk Data Encryption for protection if you were to lose you laptop (Or have it stolen!)
Engadget today posted news of the new solid state disks from PNY. In 1.8″ and 2.5″ flavours they feature 66MB/s read and 55MB/s write speeds with standard ZIF, Micro SATA, 44-pin IDE and SATA interfaces. These drives will be simple replacements for laptops and will eventually (by the end of the year) be shipping 1.8″ and 2.5″ drives up to 128GB capacity. Finally my whole music collection can follow me to the gym without fear of trashing the 1.8″ drive and it’s glass platters! It is now more important than ever that people start to put a decent backup routine in place because with solid state storage there is not much a data recovery company can do to resurrect them when they fail.
Here is a perfect example of why you should not attempt data recovery on a failing hard drive. This Maxtor 6Y160P0 drive was sent to us after being attached to a PC as a slave and then spun up and down repeatedly in a data recovery attempt. Needless to say the telltale crunchy spin-up was heard and we headed into the cleanroom to check out the damage. It was not a pretty sight. So much of the magnetic coating had been scraped off that there was a layer of soot on all of the components inside the hard drive enclosure. Even after a deep clean, debris and rough edges would wreck a new head mechanism in seconds, rendering any further data recovery attempts pointless.
We received an iPod containing a Toshiba MK6008GAH 1.8″ drive for data recovery recently. The iPod was rattling when inspected so we thought the ipod itself may have been broken. Upon removing the drive we observed that the rattle noise was in fact coming from inside the tiny drive.
We checked if the client wanted us to move into the cleanroom phase of recovery which is more expensive. The client said yes and so we took the drive in for its diagnosis.
After removing the cover the level of damage was very clear. The top disk platter was completely shattered leaving no chance of recovery. The other intact disk was scratched to pieces by the loose fragments of glass that were knocking around inside the drive enclosure. The read/write mechanism had not even left the ramp as you can see in the photographs although it would be clearly contaminated by the glass dust.
Looking at the severity of the damage it is difficult to understand the reasoning behind using glass disks inside such a portable hard drive. We do not know how much shock caused the disk to shatter but the fact that it is possible at all seems strange.