We recently received these four drives for data recovery. Now, hard drives can indeed handle some heat, and we have successfully recovered some drives whose exteriors were completely charred to black; but this particular job is among the worst fire damage we’ve ever seen.

Some Science

Before opening the drive, we notice the black plastic surrounding the SATA ports were a bit distorted. No big deal, plastic starts to melt around 200 F, and high rpm SAS drives sometimes run themselves up to 150 F.

Next we removed the board, and we noticed some loose components including the relatively large controller and ROM chips. This is concerning because solder doesn’t melt until around 400 F. At this point we remained hopeful, however, because we have the expertise to repair and/or replace boards with great success.

Finally we removed the lid (which has been rubber-cemented to the body by the melted silicon seal), to reveal a scene which might be claimed by a postmodern sculptor. The video above paints the whole picture, but the two most significant features include the rainbow-patterned platters and demagnetized head magnets. Hard drive platters are glass or metal discs, which withstood the heat as expected, however these discs are coated with a magnetic layer upon which the heads may read and write data by flipping magnetic bits. Under the intense heat, this magnet layer crinkled up like wrinkle-paint on your automobile, marked also by the same rainbow sheen found on case-hardened metal. The slightest blemish on a platter surface is most often a death sentence in terms of data recovery, so our prognosis was complete here. What was most interesting, though, was the head magnets. The heads are controlled by electricity via a pair of rather powerful neodymium magnets. When we tugged on the top magnet, it came up effortlessly, completely demagnetized. For perspective, the Curie temperature (at which demagnetization occurs) for this magnet is about 600 F.

Unfortunately, this data is toast, but it’s quite an interesting reminder to not only back up your data, but back it up off site! (or in a fireproof safe)

Thanks for reading

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Drive Model: ST3250824AS Seagate 7200.9 250gb

Location: Data Recovery Costa Mesa

Customer Problem: Drive clicks. Was trying to copy my files off the drive, used a program and after a week the drive started clicking.

st3250824as_head     st3250824as_platter

Customers desktop hard drive was clicking and making a grinding noise. We opened the drive in our clean room immediately for the customer while he waited. The image on the left shows the heads are rubbing against the platters in the landing zone, digging a groove into the platter. Then if you take a look at the image on the right; we step back and see it has also created a groove where the heads sit idle in the stand-by position, as well as the outer region where it was trying to access some user data. This is a crashed drive that is unrecoverable.

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Computer forensics is the process of collecting legal evidence found in computers and digital storage media. The goal of computer forensics is to examine digital media in a forensically sound manner with the aim of identifying, preserving, recovering, analyzing and presenting facts and opinions about the information. Computer forensics is applicable in civil proceedings, large and small corporations, a wide variety of computer crime, and corporate mergers. The discipline involves similar techniques and principles to data recovery, but with additional guidelines and practices designed to create a legal audit trail. Sometimes the process requires data recovery first because of sabotage/destruction to the media to cover it up, and then the forensics process can begin, we specialize in both areas.

The objective of computer forensic analysis is to determine the facts, as recorded on computer systems and electronic media, in an efficient and non-biased manner.

Computer forensic analysis process:

  • Alandata ensures that electronic evidence is admissible in a court of law.
  • Create forensic images and preserve electronic evidence using hardware write-blocker.
  • Make multiple copies for plaintiff, defendant, and evidence.
  • Search for relevant information and determining history, authentication and origin of electronic documents.
  • Perform a preliminary investigation to determine if allegations are correct or if company policy has been violated.
  • Using electronic data to reconstruct events or substantiate allegations and claims.
  • Use proper tools and expertise/certification to maximize evidence gain and prevent loss.
  • Linking evidence together to prove the case.
  • Preparing evidence for litigation support, including deposition and expert witness testimony.
  • Ensuring the confidentiality of the process and impartiality of the investigator.

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Alandata Data Recovery is an industry leading innovator of data recovery, techniques, and utilities. We have the expertise and tools to optimize the recovery process. Most importantly, Alandata can successfully diagnose, repair, and recover your data with maximum efficiency to prevent further harm to the data. If recovery attempts are not done properly, your drive can be damaged more, even causing the drive to crash and your data to become unrecoverable.


All data recoveries are done in our facility by our professional technicians, and every single job stays in our hands. We will never compromise your confidential data by outsourcing your recovery to consultants who connect via internet or by shipping your drive to another company. Alandata is the real deal in data recovery. We have been doing data recovery for over 30 years.


The art of data recovery is a very safely kept secret to almost all recovery experts. It takes many years and a lot of knowledge to be an expert at data recovery. It’s not something one can easily come by in school, they just don’t offer classes for this. For this reason, only 5% of recovery companies can do what we do.


  • Free Instant Evaluations
  • While you watch. While you wait.
  • No Data Recovered, No Charge
  • 24 Hr. Emergency Service Available
  • 100% Fornesically Secure Data Recovery
  • Retired State Law Officer On-site


Give us a call today and speak to one of our technicians. Once we receive your job, whether you shipped it in or come into the office, we will give an instant on the spot evaluation. We will then tell you what is wrong with your drive, what the options are, and how we can fix it.


Cick For a Detailed List of Our Data Recovery Services



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Cloud Storage

On August 3rd, 2012, posted in: Alandata's Latest News by

Data Protection and Cloud Data Storage Services. Our data protection service features automatic data backup and on-demand restore capabilities along with data recovery from failed storage devices including disk drives, flash drives, camera drives, solid state storage drives and RAID systems. With Alandata’s Cloud Storage Service you can protect your data by backing it up automatically every hour or every day and restore lost or corrupt data on-demand when you need it.

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“Integrity and knowledge at work!  That is often a missing link in todays society, it’s very refreshing.” -KJ, Montana 

Data recovery companies fall into 4 main types:

  • The Majors : Nationwide, largest, well connected.
  • The Pros : Tooled and schooled – can recover almost all problems.
  • IRU’s : Stands for “I Run Utilities”, lowest price bottom feeders or also highest price due to outsourcing.
  • Market and Forwarders: they dont recover anything – just do the marketing.

*** Any company big or small can try and scam customers and rip them off! To learn more after reading this pages article please read this following article, and protect yourself with the ability to identify a company you can trust. There is an incredible amount of scrupulous recovery companies out there, and the more knowledge you have in identifying them, the safer your personal data will be.***

Major Companies: have offices nationally or globally. They have lots of resources, R&D departments, programming departments, ties to the drive manufacturers. If it can be recovered they have the best chance. They are also the most expensive. They will charge an evaluation fee. They aren’t perfect. I have recovered drives that they have deemed ‘unrecoverable’.

The Pros: professional local companies (like me…) they have invested in tools and education and can recover 95% of what the majors can do. Use the proper tools for the recovery to optimize the recovery process. They can successfully diagnose, repair, and recover your data with maximum efficiency to prevent further harm to the data. They are much cheaper than the majors; don’t usually charge an eval fee. They may also be more willing to work with you personally on your situation. To be a pro they should be able to completely rebuild a drive – that means successfully swap platters and heads into a new body. Be able to repair or build custom boards (its no longer possible to just swap boards). They should be able to fix damaged service areas – this part requires a $20,000 tool and lots of experience. A Pro will have a relationship with a national company and can recommend trying them at their discounted rate.

The IRU’s: these are the ‘I Run Utilities’ guys. The company will either offer fixed rate data recovery for cheap, or they charge hourly and can’t give you a total cost until the job is done. Basically they charge hourly and give you a range of roughly $100 an hour and it can range from $300 to over $2,000; it can be as little as this to as much as this we never know. A real data recovery company would know exactly how much it would cost to fix it. A real company would say ok it has this problem, it would take 3hrs to complete, and the cost would be $xxx.xx. IRU’s have no idea how much time it takes to repair anything because they don’t have the knowledge to repair it. That is why these companies can only give you a price range. This gives them the flexability to squeeze every nickel and dime out of you they can, and bid the job out to a company who can actually do the recovery. They charge the other companies fee, add on their personal fee, then try and squeeze any extras out of your wallet. There are quite a few companies offering low-cost fixed rate data-recovery. Every computer repair depot offers ‘data recovery’. They buy some software utilities and run ‘em. They make money by volume – they get a lot of cheap recoveries and pick out the simplest and easiest recoveries. You might as well download a free trial and do it yourself. The problem is that software can’t fix drives that are clicking. Utilities only work under the conditions that they understand. We use utilities but first we analyze the drive, diagnose the problem and select the right tool for the job. Many times we must modify the drive before the utility will be effective. These companies may also try to swap boards when the electronics have failed. This used to work but modern drives have custom boards – each board is ‘tuned’ at the factory – it cant be swapped.
So what do they do when they can’t recover your drive? In some cases very oftenly used actually is having people in other countries dial in remotely and try and run software tools. So some stranger who the company doesn’t know to well, and who you have no idea even exists is seeing all your company/personal information. Who knows if your data isn’t being sold elsewhere to make a little bit extra cash. Also they may try to upsell you on their more expensive service and then forward your drive to someone who can really fix it (this is bait and switch). Claiming they had to send your drive to their lab, or their technicians are looking at it, yet the tech is never available to talk to. Status updates on your job is slow, vague information when you ask questions, they always have to call you, etc… because they have to call the other company to get any sort of information to tell you. They may also do worse things. We have seen drives that have been opened unecessarily, fingerprints on platters and not original boards. Sometimes they take your good board and put on one of their failed boards – this makes it almost impossible to recover. The only drives that you should send this way are when you really dont care that much about the data.

Marketers: These guys don’t do any recovery at all. They market, market and market. Recently I checked Google and 5 of the first page DR companies were marketers. They forward your drive to the cheapest Pro DR that they can and then mark up the price. Since the Pro DR is working at a discount and is removed from the customer he doesn’t have a big incentive to try very hard. If they ship your drive somewhere that adds to the cost and adds 2 days to the recovery time. Your drive could be lost and further damaged. Why pay a marketer to hand your drive to a Pro?

So how can you detect the IRU’s and marketers? Ask questions, get recommendations, tour the facility. Will they let you talk with the engineer? If you can talk to an engineer did you call him or did he call you? If he called you then it could be because he is actually at another location and they dont want to give you that phone #. Do they charge a flat fee for everything? Think about this – lets say your car breaks down – would you trust taking it to a place that advertised “$200 all repairs – includes parts!”? If your car is out of gas or needs a fuse then they can fix it and make money. If it needs a transmission then they will tell you that its unrepairable. or they can fix it for $1200 but it will take a week or more. So be careful – there are a lot of fakers out there.

Here at Alandata Data Recovery we are more than happy to help you out. If you have any questions or concerns about data recovery, and need some help, please feel free to give us a call or email. We are real data recovery experts and want to maintain the integrity and quality of this field. So give us a call today for your free second opinion on your data recovery, and know it’s in the hands of someone you can trust. Never search and find the first link and then settle! Evaluations should always be free, a real data recovery expert knows it takes very few minutes to look at the drive to evaluate it, if they charge evaluation fees its because they are trying to make money or cover shipping costs to send it elsewhere.

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Forensic Analysis / Copying
We have conducted forensic analysis and made forensic copies of drives many times.

  • We have read-only devices which allows us to make a forensic copy of a drive for storage or analysis without possibility of writing to the drive.
  •  We take pictures of the devices, then make 2 copies of the target, record the MD5 hash-codes, then anaylze our working copy.

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Data Protection Services

Alandata Data Protection and Cloud storage services feature automatic data backup and on-demand restore capabilities along with data recovery from failed storage devices including disk drives, flash drives, camera drives, solid state storage drives and RAID systems.

Our ADPC Services protect your data by backing it up automatically every hour or every day and the ability to restore lost or corrupt data on-demand. Anytime.