Hitachi Model HTS5450 Notebook Hard Drives

Hard Drive Data Recovery

If you have a failed Hitachi hard drive, you may be interested in our Hitachi Data Recovery Services. We have been receiving Hitachi HTS5450 hard drives for data recovery since 2010. The majority of them appear to show a similar failing symptom, resulting in access to the data becoming more and more difficult.

After experience recovering several of these hard drives we have discovered that the problem appears to be trouble reading from the disc media. This may initially have been caused by the internal read and write heads writing bad data or the disc media itself suffering some mis-alignment or deteriorated magnetic coating.

Whatever the cause, the rework to overcome this can be a slow and very deliberate process. Anyone with one of these hard drives should make sure to back up regularly and any signs of slow or difficult access, you may want to think about replacing the drive.

If you have a failing 5450 drive, then it is important that you don’t try to fix or repair the drive in any way.  It will make things much worse. First try to copy off important files. If that doesn’t work then it may already need a professional recovery process.

Bigger Hard Drives of the Future

The Register has today posted two articles about the ongoing battle to expand hard drive capacities.

First is an actual device for sale, a 2TB Western Digital portable drive. This drive has a fancy new case and USB3 connection. It contains backup software and also the option to encrypt the data with a password. I wonder if it encrypts the data by default like some of their previous portables. (A bad thing!)

Second is a futuristic announcement from Seagate about their new HAMR technology. This new tech uses a laser to heat part of the disk before magnetising it. This apparently allows for much higher densities, theoretically paving the way for 60TB hard drives. There doesn’t appear to be any products using this technology at the moment.

60TB drives will be fantastic for backups, but horrible to backup without a new, faster form of connection. These would take almost forever (exaggeration) to fill up by SATA.

This news helps prove that hard drives are far from dead. It will take a long time until SSDs can cope with such massive capacities, at a similar cost to these beasts.

Seagate Full Disk Encryption FDE

Seagate FDE hard drives encrypt the data automatically as it is read and written to the drive. As you save data to the drive it is encrypted immediately and can only be accessed when you input your user name and password. The drive will then be temporarily unlocked and allow the operating system to boot. Once the drive is powered off, it will be automatically locked again.

We have received several of these drives from customers who cannot access their data due to a hard drive failure. You may still be asked for the password, but the laptop will then fail to boot. This can be as a result of bad sectors or electronic problems. We can overcome virtually any type of failure and can return your data back to you decrypted and fully accessible on a new hard drive.

See our Seagate Data Recovery Services for more info.

Help! My PC Won’t Start

Here are some common troubleshooting tips to use if your PC won’t start. This will help determine if your hard drive is having problems, and therefore if you need data recovery.

There are two main types of hard drive failure: Hard drives that are still recognised in the BIOS and hard drives that are no longer recognised.

You may also like to read 5 DIY Data Recovery Tips

Hard drives that are still recognised

Some common error messages:

  • 1st / 2nd /3rd Master Hard Disk S.M.A.R.T. Status BAD, Backup and Replace
    Press F1 to Resume
  • WARNING: Immediate back-up your data and replace your hard disk drive. A failure may be imminent.
  • Windows logo, with a progress bar underneath that just keeps whizzing round and round.

These hard drives are partly functional. They are communicating back to the PC, but may not work well enough to boot up. It is important at this stage to asses the value of the data on the drive. If it is absolutely crucial then don’t mess around with it. Our success from this type of drive is very high. On the other hand, if the data is of little or no value then you could try getting the drive to boot again, but beware: anything that runs for hours on a failing drive could be destroying the data instead of repairing it. You could end up in the category below.

Hard drives that are no longer recognised

Some common error messages:

  • Error loading system disk
  • Reboot and select proper Boot device
    or Insert Boot Media in selected Boot device and press a key_
  • DISK BOOT FAILURE, INSERT SYSTEM DISK AND PRESS ENTER

These drives are completely unable to communicate with the PC at all (or they are not connected properly – check the cables). In this case, you will not be able to run recovery software on the drives as the software won’t be able to identify the drive.

These drives require a proper diagnosis to find out the cause of failure. This could be anything from an electronic fault, firmware fault or physical damage to the internal parts.

We can recover data from all sorts of hard drive failures. If the data is important, don’t risk losing it. Get it straight to us.

5 DIY Data Recovery Tips

There is never a good time for your hard drive to fail. It always happens when you have something urgent to work on. Before you start frantically trying to gain access to your data, take a deep breath and read our top 5 things to look out for. It could just save your files.

  1. Don’t assume that recovery software will work on your failed hard drive. If your computer cannot see the drive then neither will the recovery software. Some drives need more than software to get the data off in good condition.
  2. Don’t put the drive in the freezer. This myth has been floating around the internet for years, but no real data recovery has ever required a freezer.
  3. Don’t run Checkdisk, Scandisk, Spinrite, Disk Warrior or anything that could WRITE data to your failing drive. If the drive is failing then you could be accidentally overwriting the data you want back.
  4. Don’t try swapping the PCB from one drive to another. A once-simple fix (circa 1990) is now very unlikely to work. Most of the firmware to control the drive is actually stored on the disks, so swapping the card won’t work. Also most drives now have unique PCB information which varies from drive to drive. We usually have to adapt a replacement PCB to make it work with another drive.
  5. Don’t panic. The data is probably recoverable. If the drive has just failed and you haven’t tried any recovery software there is a good chance that we can get back all of your data.

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USB Powered Portable Hard Drives Failing To Spin

We see a lot of portable hard drives that don’t spin up when plugged into a USB port. All brands of hard drive can be effected including Hitachi, Western Digital and Seagate. The problem can be caused by power loss or sometimes due to mis-plugging of the USB lead. This causes the internal read heads to sit on the disc instead of parking on the ramp at the side.

The only way to overcome this problem is by taking the hard drive into our clean room to replace the damaged heads with good ones. This allows us to copy the data from the drive and store it on our server.

The repaired hard drives are not suitable to be reused after this sort of work as they will not work correctly, or fail after a very short time.

Toshiba Desktop Hard Drives

Western Digital Toshiba Drive
Western Digital Toshiba Drive

Western Digital want to buy Hitachi Global Storage. The FTC will only allow this if WD sell of some manufacturing capabilities to Toshiba. This seems to be due to some anti-competition type laws. The strange thing is that Toshiba don’t currently make 3.5″ drives, so perhaps we will see some strange Toshiba branded WD drives? Who knows.

Maybe it will be like when Maxtor were bought by Seagate and brought out the STMXXXXXXXXX drives, which were simply Maxtor branded Seagate drives.

Complicated stuff. Read the overview at Slashdot which has links to the FTC etc.

Warning to customers with new WD hard drives

We Recovered a Western Digital Hard Drive That Others Couldn't

Newer WD External drives come with password protection and 256-Bit encryption as standard. Even if a password is not set the encryption is still applied to the data written to the drive. The 256-Bit encryption is controlled by ROM on the USB controller. On portable USB powered hard drives the encrypted ROM is on the actual hard drive. On external desktop drives the ROM is on the interface controller within the external case.

Make sure you keep hold of the external case the hard drive was in. Although not always needed, it could be  important later on. If you’ve lost data, have a look at our Western Digital Data Recovery service.

What is Hard Drive Encrytion

What is Hard Drive Encrytion

Encryption is a process to protect data by using sophisticated mathematical functions. Data is scrambled when written to the drive. This data is then not readable by an unauthorised person. When data is read back from the drive by an authorised person it is then converted back into readable data. Usually authorisation is provided by a password of some sort.

When using encryption, there are few things to watch out for

  • If you forget your password, you will be locked out of your own data. Be careful.
  • If your hard drive starts failing you could lose access to all your data.
  • You need regular backups if using encryption, as it is usually uncrackable.
  • Data is encrypted when the computer is off, but if someone accesses the disk while powered on they can access the data the same way you can.

Ideally, if you plan to use encryption try to speak to somebody knowledgeable about the system you have. The way a Mac handles things is very different to the way Windows does, which is different again to the third party options.