We are often asked the same questions, so here is a selection of the most common, with some fairly detailed answers. Feel free to ask more questions in the comments. Maybe we can do a Data Recovery Q & A.
Can’t you just remove the platters?
In most cases, NO WAY! Platter extractions are one of the most severe types of recovery we carry out. When drives are manufactured the platters are clamped onto the spindle motor. If you undo this alignment, there is virtually no chance of getting that alignment back and therefore no chance of recovery. Also, if the problem was with the data stored on the disks then removing them, is not going to help in any way.
We only remove platters if a spindle motor has stuck, or if the hard drive is fire damaged or physically warped / crushed.
Can’t you just swap the PCB / Logic Card?
Unless we find a fault with the PCB, then it would be pointless to replace it. Most modern hard drives have unique PCBs, which are not even compatible with drives of the same model number. We often have to reprogram the replacement PCBs to work with a drive.
When people talk about firmware, it is very different to firmware on other devices. Not only is part of the firmware on the PCB, but the vast majority of hard drive firmware is stored on a hidden part disk. If the problem is with on-disk firmware then changing the PCB won’t make a blind bit of difference.
Can you repair my hard drive and return it?
No. When dealing with a failed or failing hard drive, the last thing you want to do is try to repair it. Our number one aim is to get as much data recovered as possible. In most cases, we read every sector and save it onto another hard drive. Sometimes with data recovery, you only get one shot, so you have to make the most of it.
Can I just use Diskwarrior, Spinrite, etc…?
No. If used on a failing hard drive, this type of software can cause so much damage that recovery can be impossible. It is important to use read-only methods to access the data. Even if the disk is not failing mechanically, when you overwrite the disk structure using Diskwarrior you could lose access to some of the data. Data that would have otherwise been recoverable.
We only suggest using Diskwarrior if a drive has already been recovered safely, then you can see if it will get it running again. That way you have nothing to lose if it all goes wrong.
Any software like Spinrite etc, that attempts reading and writing sectors could be destructive if used on a failing hard drive. If a drive is deteriorating, the last thing you want to do is retry reading the same sector 2000 times.