Hard drive failure can happen for a variety of reasons, either mechanical or logical. Logical failures are a result of programming or write errors, and can happen as a result of a virus, power surge or hardware change. Mechanical failures on the other hand, can be caused for various reasons.
Physical damage is one of the most common reasons for mechanical hard drive failure. This can be the result of a fall or drop that results in damage to the moving parts of the hard drive. There are three types of mechanical failure, head crash, motor failure, preamp failure and damage to the magnetic platters.
A head crash is a type of mechanical failure that happens when the read/write head of the hard drive touches the magnetic disk on the device. This results in permanent and irreversible damage to the magnetic disk (the part that holds the information). Head crashes are usually caused by a drop, fall or sudden drop.
In a drive that is functioning properly, the head rides on a thin film of moving air above the surface of the magnetic media. Because the head is made using materials that are hard enough to scratch through the protective layers, if a disk is dropped while running there is a large chance it will be damaged through the head bouncing.
Once a disk has suffered head damage, the small particles caused by the original motion can cause further damage if the drive is turned on again. It is important to take your disk directly to a data recovery specialist if you think it might have sustained damage.
Another mechanical failure that can happen as a result of a fall or sudden motion is motor seizure, or spindle motor seizure. This is a common problem in some older hard drive models, and can be complicate to fix and recover the data is difficult.
The most common symptoms of motor seizure is a low buzzing, beeping or tapping noises and the platters will not spin. In some brands of hard drives motor seizure is common after a shock or fall.
In older models, if the hard drive has suffered from spindle motor seizure a repair specialist can perform platter swap to a donor motor and in some cases replace the read/write head as well. In newer drives it is very difficult to replace or fix and is usually the final resort in data recovery.
Pre-Amplifier Failure is another common mechanical failure in a hard drive. The amplifier controls the read/write head, and then amplifies the signals going either way. This is important because the signals generate by the head is very weak and is the reason that this chip is essential to the drive functioning correctly.
Older models of hard drives are more susceptible to this kind of failure. There are several older HDD models who have a high preamp chip failure rate. They are far less common in newer models, but does happen, and failure is usually a result of a serious power surge.
Damage to the magnetic platters, or the disk itself, is usually a secondary effect, and is a result of other primary failures, such as head failure. In some cases a massive power surge or magnetic pulse can cause damage to the magnetic head of the hard drive.
Because the magnetic disk makes recovery much more difficult. Because it is the part of the drive that holds the data, it is possible that only parts of the data will be able to be recovered if the magnetic disk itself is damaged. A data recovery expert will be able to assess the damage and recover any of the data that is still in tact.
Hard drives can be damaged in a variety of ways, and loss of important files can be devastating to a company or individual. If your hard drive has been dropped, wet or is making clicking or other noises, it’s important you leave it off and take to to a data recovery specialist. This is especially important if the data on the drive is irreplaceable to essential.
Although most mechanical failures are caused by falls, drops or sudden motion, damage can be a result of years of use, or an electric surge.