Hard Drive Data Recovery Hard Disk Drive Recovery Service

Hard drives are indispensable components of personal computers and enterprise storage solutions for major companies and industries. They are composed of separate disks or platters coated in a magnetic planar. Data is written to the drive via write heads, and read through the use of read heads. The heads interpret the data and convert it into binary data using complex mathematical formulas. The data is stored in sectors on the disk that are arranged in concentric circles radiating out from the center of the disk. Data written in one direction is interpreted as a "1", and data written in the opposite direction is interpreted as a "0."

Hard drives employ the use of multiple platters arranged on top of each other, separated by enough space for the heads to write and read data. The hard drive is encased in a magnetically protected shell to protect it from magnetic fields that could cause errors in data, or worse, destroy the hard drive entirely. Few differences exist between Mac and PC hard drives, except for the interface to the motherboard; Mac computers, until recently, relied upon the SCSI interface, while PCs used the IDE interface. The formatting of the drives is also different, but that has to do with the operating system and not the physical construction of the hard drive itself.

Hard drives will, as do all mechanical and electronic devices, eventually break down and become unusable. The most common problem is head crash. This is where the read or write head actually slams into the hard drive platter causing severe damage to the data stored to that sector. The physical construction of the hard drive platter is also damaged, making any future data retrieval nearly impossible. Unfortunately, head crashes can rarely be avoided and are a part of hard drive technology.

Steps can be taken to lengthen the life of a hard drive by any user; this will not allow the hard drive to work indefinitely, but will extend the life of the hard drive for a few years. Make sure the computer is well ventilated. The heat of the internal components and the hard drive over time can damage the hard drive's ability to function and retrieve data. Be sure that the back of the computer is facing an open area and not backed into a corner. In addition, the computer should be plugged into a surge protector. The surges that could come through the power supply could disrupt the magnetic properties of the storage on the hard drive. This is the simplest and least expensive protection against hard drive failures. Without the proper protection, an end user could find themselves losing massive amounts of data or having to pay high fees for data recovery.

How to Properly Select the Best Available Hard Drive

As a professional data recovery company we are often asked for recommendations on the fastest and most reliable brands and types of hard drives available on the market. While this question is in fact quite multifaceted, we shall attempt to respond from a purely technical perspective.

First and foremost, hard drive technology and drive manufacturers have gone so far since the first hard drives of the 1950s, that all of the brands presently on the market are very advanced and are similarly positioned in terms of quality. By this point in time all of the troubled players long left the market. The remaining companies have years and even decades of fierce technological competition under their belts and all have learned to strive for and achieve total quality. Needless to say similar processes are used in drive manufacture and most internal components including the read write heads, spindle motors, actuator arms etc, are commonly made by third party manufacturers.

Error correction and defect management are areas of high concern in hard drive engineering. In fact more than three quarters of a typical drive’s firmware deals precisely with defect management. In production, hard drives and the individual components are also rigorously tested at all levels of assembly to ensure the highest level of compatibility and optimal operation. Further, despite popular belief, drive manufacturers often share technological “know how.” More often than not, questions and solutions relating to quality are shared and discussed with competitors in hope producing better products. This, in our opinion, mostly resolves the question of brands. Each manufacturer offers many product lines with different technological characteristics, while filling all pricing categories. Each is equally likely to have a highly successful model or a poorly performing one. Aside from economic considerations, in selecting a drive one should mostly focus on manufacturer’s specifications. Finally, one should keep up to date with firmware upgrades available for existing drives and the issues they correct. Usually a firmware upgrade is a simple process of running a manufacturer supplied utility. This is meant to correct any existing “bugs,” but more often to improve the drive’s overall operation and error correction ability.

This leads to an obvious yet critical recommendation. Try to avoid the latest, newly introduced drives. We recommend waiting around six months before purchasing any drives that just hit the market. This is ample time for engineering, firmware, and batch production problems to become evident and for the manufacturer to address any such potential issues. Even if no known problems arise, a manufacturer may still release firmware updates that would improve the dive’s performance. As an added bonus of waiting, drives that have been out for a while are obviously priced lower than the latest releases.

Our second recommendation deals with drive capacity. Try to purchase according to your actual needs with some consideration for the future requirements. When selecting a drive try to go for models with fewer platters and read write heads. As previously mentioned you can easily obtain this information from the manufacturer. Such drives will work smoother, generate less heat, and are easier to work on if disaster does strike.

The third recommendation is to carefully pay attention to the model and select a drive that best matches its intended use. Pay attention to generated heat, noise level, and other characteristics. For instance a home PC intended for light duty may do very well with a 5400 rpm hard drive. This drive will be perform quickly enough but do it quieter and consuming less energy than the higher rpm models. On the other hand 7200 and higher rpm drives will read and write faster but are generally louder, hotter, and consume more power. Server class components are a whole separate consideration. Heavy duty servers expected to perform flawlessly 24 hours per day, warrant nothing but Enterprise level equipment. Such drives are designed to perform under heavy usage, around the clock. They will typically be more heat tolerant and contain more error correcting algorithms. The trade off is that they are much more costly and are usually significantly louder.

Our final recommendation is a consideration of setting up RAID 1 or mirrored disks. If your PC does not have a RAID controller, one can be obtained quite economically at any computer store. If the data stored on the drive is important, mirroring the drive will be an effective, hands-off, behind the scenes way to combat physical disk failure. This will not prevent you from deleting files and will not prevent files from getting corrupted for any “logical” reason. It will however leave you with one perfect copy of your data in the event that one disk physically fails. Every data recovery specialist will agree that setting up a RAID 1 array will be much cheaper than repairing even the simplest cases of physical drive failure.

Whatever decisions you make remember to provide and maintain an ideal operational environment. Shock and heat are a hard drive’s worst enemies. Many of us have probably seen people toss their laptop on a bed or other soft surface. Notebook drives usually have small shock absorbers, but we have worked on and fixed hundreds of cases where drives failed due to a laptop being “harmlessly” tossed around. When installing a drive, ensure it is properly secured and is in a well ventilated part of the computer case. If the work environment is dusty, you should periodically carefully clean the PC with a vacuum wand and use an air compressor or duster to blow all the dust out. This will prolong the life of not just the hard drive but all of the system components.


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