This is a question that brings many people to the Data Recovery Tips web site. The short answer to the question is YES. A longer answer to the question is YES, mostly.
Whether it’s possible to repair a hard drive or not depends on what is actually wrong with the hard drive. Often if you loose data it’s not the fault of your hard drive, more often it’s something that you have done (eg. you may have accidentally deleted a file, or run a program that has altered various settings on one of your applications) and now your data seems to have disappeared. If you have a problem like this then there’s nothing wrong with your hard drive, you just need to sort out the problem with your software.
Actual hard drive problems can be divided into 4 types:
- Degraded Media – where disk access is slow and task that access the hard drive take a long time to complete or don’t complete at all.
- Mechanical Failure – where the computer can no longer access or detect the hard drive, often you will hear a regular beeping, ticking or scratching noise too.
- Electronic Failure – The drive won’t spin up or be recognised, sometimes this will stop the computer from booting as well
- Firmware Failure – The disk is identified by the computer incorrectly (eg. the capacity may be shown incorrectly, or the name of the hard drive may have changed to something odd) and accessing the data on it is not possible.
In cases of electrical and firmware failures, repairing the hard drive is nearly always possible. Repairing a hard drive with mechanical failure is possible too, but usually only for a limited time to allow the data on it to be rescued. It’s not wise to continue using hard drives with mechanical failure as the integrity of the drive will be compromised – it’s always better to get a new hard drive instead.
It’s the same story for hard drives with degraded media, rather than repair a hard drive in this state, just buy a new one. Degraded media is a problem that only gets worse, and repairing it is pointless because of this reason.
The first steps in answering the question of whether it’s possible to repair a hard drive is to correctly diagnose the hard drive problem. Once you know what the problem is you can work out if it’s worth trying to repair the hard drive or just buy a new one.