With the recent floods in the United Kingdom, it is important to know that time can be a critical factor when trying to recover data from mechanical hard drives that have been submerged or damaged by water. Most mechanical hard drives have breather holes that may allow water to enter the hard drive enclosure if submerged. If this is the case then the longer the hard drive is left in this condition the worse the internal damage. Even if the hard drive is left to dry out, internally the damage has already been done. Our advice is not to try this if the data is critical to you or your business.
Any water damage hard drives that we receive go straight into our clean room environment to be dismantled and dried out internally. The hard drives external electronics would also require a cleaning process to prevent any electrical shorting caused by the water residue.
Although Solid Sate Hard Drives ( SSD ) do not have any mechanical moving parts, they are still prone to damage to the data chips and electronics by residue left by the water. Very much as mechanical hard drives they would require dismantling and specialist cleaning to ensure no electrical shorting of components.
You have heard of the myth about water behaving differently from the northern hemisphere compared to the southern hemisphere. Especially when draining water out of a sink or bath. Well apparently this is a myth and not fact.
So what has this got to do with hard drives? Well the same was said about some of the old Maxtor hard drives and why they were built with clockwise disc rotation. Where they built for the southern hemisphere market and do they work as well in the northern hemisphere. Built in mid 2000 the Maxtor DiamondMax 10 hard drives were designed to spin in the opposite direction to the conventional mechanical hard drives.
I could not find any information as to why they were built this way and whether this design did improve performance depending on location in the world. Maybe this question will never be answered.
See pictures below of a the internal working of a conventional hard drive compared to the Maxtor DiamondMax 10 hard drives.
These old slim Maxtor IDE 20 & 40GB hard drives are prone to start up problems. When they fail, it sounds like a mechanical problem as the heads cannot settle and make a clicking noise. They also do not show up correctly in a computer bios. This generation of Maxtor disks are known for firmware corruption, which is usually the fault.
We have just received one in for data recovery with the usual failure. With our past experience we have been able to overcome the problem without having to open up the drive in our cleanroom.
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.
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These Maxtor slimline drives are only 16mm deep compared to the usual 22mm depth for 3.5″ hard drives. This may be the reason they have been so popular in recent years. Sometimes known as “Fireball 3” or “DiamondMax Plus 8” drives, they are unfortunately prone to a number of different types of failure. One of the most common fail symptoms of these drives is for them to be identified in the BIOS by an unusual name like “Maxtor N40P” instead of the drive model number. This unusual name is known as the “factory alias” or drive “family name”. When a drive displays it’s factory alias it often means it was unable to complete it’s start-up routine, which it needs to carry out to allow you to access your data. Causes range from failed PCB components, a damaged motor, or the most common cause which is system area corruption. When these drives are functioning correctly, they will remap any bad sectors they find, and save the list of bad sectors to a log file. This works fine for a while but after some time the log can become full. When this happens, there is nowhere left for the bad sectors to be mapped to, so the log file becomes corrupt. The next time you turn on your PC, the drive will attempt to read the log file and fail, displaying the factory alias instead of the model number. I have included a list of affected drive model numbers below:
It appears that Seagate are offering an unusual free data recovery service to customers affected by a recent firmware bug. The bug which affects certain 7200.11 drives, DiamondMax 22 and Barracuda ES.2 drives, makes the disks inaccessible when the host system is powered on.
The read link has not been working but keep trying as I did get to the page eventually.
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.