Tag Archives: Glass Platter

Extreme Close-Up: Toshiba Hard Drive [video]

This is a video of a functional Toshiba laptop drive. Using a macro lens, we are able to see what happens when you read or write data to or from a hard drive. You can also see how the hard drive parks the heads off the disks when the power is shut off. This is to protect the hard drive from shocks during transportation.

It’s my first one of these videos so you can see my reflection in a couple of places, when I lean over to send different commands to the drive.

Bang Goes The Theory Data Recovery

Bang Goes The Theory – Series 6 Episode 3 – March 26th

Bang Goes The Theory Data Recovery

I love Bang Goes The Theory. I loved the alcohol powered motorbikes last week and find it a good doorway into ideas, which are presented in a fun and interesting way. I was extra excited when I started watching episode 3, and relised they would be featuring data recovery. A perfect opportunity to dispel some common myths, and dish out a bit of advice in the process.

Deletion

The data recovery guy Rob, made a good analogy when he described deleting data as ripping out a page from the table of contents. That is pretty much how it works, and really simple to understand.

Data Recovery Experts

Yes they are the world leaders. I’m not going to dispute that, but I’m also not going to name them. They don’t exactly need the extra publicity. It’s worth noting that any decent recovery firm would have reached the same results from the batch of damaged drives.

Getting Physical

I do have a couple of problems with the way some of the drives were “destroyed.”

  1. Sledgehammer. This would have been a good way to destroy a drive, but only if it had been removed from the PC first. Effectively the metal PC case acted like armour, thus protecting the drive from the brunt of the impact.
  2. Tractor. Same as above. If the drive was bare, and on solid ground, then maybe the tractor would have done more damage. Instead, the PC case protected it sufficiently and all the data was recoverable.
  3. Golf Swing. This was great in the example shown, but is a bit unreliable. If you only hit the edge, or if the disk didn’t have glass platters then it may have been recoverable. Maybe take it apart first, then you can see if it’s damaged.
  4. Tea Damaged USB Pen. This was a good one. Solid state storage should survive liquid damage, as long as it is powered off at the time. When dried out, there is a good chance of getting the data back. The worst thing you could do is plug in a wet drive, as this would cause an electrical short, and potentially damage the electronics of the device, and even the computer you plugged it into.
  5. Big Magnet. This was a good one, and surprisingly effective. Only problems are the fact that most people don’t have a giant magnet, and unless you test it afterwards, you wouldn’t know if it had worked.
  6. Toaster. This is an interesting one for me. Of course the toaster damaged the PCB (circuit board) of this hard drive. These drives were quite old, so that was no major problem. If however these were more modern drives the story could have been quite different. A lot of newer drives encrypt the data using keys stored on the PCB. If you melt that PCB, then you have a very difficult job on your hands.
  7. Torched. 100% successful. If you can see the drive destroyed, then that’s perfect.

Optical Discs

Liz later made some good points about the reliability of CD / DVD storage. I agree that although the quoted life spans of DVDs are enormous, in reality DVDs often only last for a couple of years. We have had discs in for recovery that have been stored in temperature-controlled server rooms that have still failed well short of their estimated lifespans.

Hard Disks

Hard disks can last for ages. We have some here that are well over 15 years old and still going strong. The problem is that they can fail without any warning. It is sound advice to backup one drive with another, and then another. This is the only surefire way to avoid being stung by a failed drive. Dallas made a good point of moving one of the backups off site, which is also a good idea.

Scrambling Software

I didn’t like the scrambling advice given near the end. There are problems with the way hard drives are designed, which can prevent the software from accessing bad sectors, and hidden parts of the disk. Although only small parts of the disk, you could leave enough data there to be targeted by fraudsters or whoever.

I advise a two pronged approach. First erase / scramble the data, then physically destroy the drive. This makes it far less likely that your data could end up in the wrong hands.

Summary

It is good to see this sort of thing on mainstream TV, and the advice given was a good starting point for most people. Despite my points above, it was basically a good show: Interesting and informative, with a decent amount of good info.

Many people have little or no knowledge of the way their data is stored, so any way to bring this to their attention is good in my books.

Toshiba Announce 240GB 1.8″ Drive

Toshiba DTR vs PMR

Toshiba DTR vs PMR

Toshiba announced some breakthroughs in magnetic storage that could theoretically see the 1.8″ hard drives pushing 240GB using two platters. Using a new process which adds grooves to the disc surface, Toshiba have been able to get 120GB per platter. Apparently this process is best suited to small drives such as 1.8″ & 2.5″ drives. Although this would mean a nice fat drive in our iPod, this process is expected to reach the manufacturing process in 2009.

PNY unveils SSDs for laptops, iPods and more

Engadget today posted news of the new solid state disks from PNY. In 1.8″ and 2.5″ flavours they feature 66MBps read and 55MBps write speeds with standard ZIF, Micro SATA, 44-pin IDE and SATA interfaces. These drives will be simple replacements for the likes of 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.

Read More On Engadget

Head Crash on 1.8″ 60GB Toshiba ZIF Hard Drive

 

More than a head crash with this drive

More than a head crash with this drive

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.