from the Data Recovery Experts


DON’T buy a 256gb flash drive or camera card. You risk too many eggs in 1 basket! Buy several smaller cards instead.

DON’T keep a laptop on a bed, or even your lap! Laptops need their vents open to cool and prevent premature disk crashing.

DO buy flash drives with a blinking light. A flashing activity-light tells you that it’s not safe to remove!

DO always eject flash drives. Flash drives are easily corrupted, and difficult to recover. Close your documents and use the “EJECT” command before removing. Watch for your blinking light to stop!

DO use “321 backups.” This means: 3 separate backups, on 2 kinds of devices with 1 safely offsite.

DO use 2 different cloud backups. It’s cheap insurance – one may have what the other doesn’t!

DO learn all the phishing scams! Most viruses comes as fake e-mails imitating something like a UPS package notification. Learn how to spot the fakes by Googling “Phishing Test.”

DO baby your laptop. The disk drive in your laptop survives on a molecular film of air. Don’t bump it. Don’t plop it down on your desk – be gentle.

DO keep the box! Many drives are lost from accidental drops while being carried. The box you bought your external drive in offers great protection during transportation.

DO visit www.alandata.com to find more info, directly from the data recovery experts at Alandata Data Recovery.

Written by: Wayne
Date Published: 07/07/2015
10 / 10 stars

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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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The Dangers of DIY Data Recovery


Though their capabilities have grown exponentially since their invention, computers have yet to develop a resistance to poor decision-making on behalf of the user.

      As more and more information gathers into the aethersphere, Google queries have become a quick and easy solution to the minor disturbances of everyday life. Unfortunately, this mysteriously powerful search engine soon becomes a greater liability than asset when delving into complicated subjects. Due to the sheer volume of available information, the phenomenon known as “selective hearing” plagues many helpless individuals. Not only is the internet jam-packed with pseudo-science, but it’s seemingly impossible to differentiate the credibility of one article from the next. In the realm of data recovery, Google’s front page provides many “fixes” which – while likely successful on some occasions – function more like coin-tosses than solutions. Today in our cleanroom, we examine the aftermath of an admittedly popular, but volatile hard-drive treatment.

dents sidebyside

   At first glance, it is difficult to imagine any repair attempts were made. (left)  However, carefully angling the drive-lid under a light source reveals several small dents in the metal, as well as a circular scratch where the lid was pushed into the bearing. (right)  Before explaining these clearly deliberate dings, let us understand the entire scenario. For a hard drive to read and write data, tiny instruments known as heads literally fly across the spinning platters, hovering just nanometers above the surface. When a drive crashes, these heads may lose their delicate alignment, becoming stuck by friction against the fragile platters. In the reasonable interest of saving both time and money, many drive-crash victims fall into the previously explained Google-trap. While there is plenty of thorough and valuable information available, an inexperienced user will take the path of least resistance, quickly convinced by Yahoo answers to attempt the following procedure:

1. Place affected hard drive in freezer for 1 hour.

2. After removing hard drive from freezer, plug hard drive into power source and give it a few good whacks with the handle-end of a screwdriver.

I admitted earlier that this treatment is popular, even among data recovery specialists. The idea is to give the drive power so the platters start spinning. When the platters spin fast enough, they create a wind tunnel that lifts the heads up much like the wings of an airplane. Ideally, the heads are never in contact with the platters, so they wait off to the side until the air is moving fast enough in order to take flight. In this case of drive failure though, the heads are already being held by friction against the platters before anything has begun moving. We don’t want the heads dragging against the moving platters for any amount of time because it physically destroys the thin layer of data atop said platters. For this reason, we whack the hard drive with a screwdriver in hopes of overcoming the initial friction and jolting the heads back into place. Again, the whole process is a real coin-flip that is only appropriate under special circumstances – circumstances beyond the determination of anyone besides an expert.

Here are the consequences of this failed recovery attempt:




The picture on the right reveals the heads have been mangled. Significantly more dire, the picture on the left reveals a very solid head-sized scratch. It was clearly caused by the heads bouncing violently against the platter upon being hit with a screwdriver at a poor angle. Even if the heads are damaged, it is possible to replace them with a new set of heads that work properly. However, swapping heads is meaningless when there is a scratch on the platter. Platters must remain absolutely pristine; even a fingerprint can render the entire drive unreadable. The above audio sample exposes the clicking and grinding of the damaged heads against the platters – the telltale sign of an irreparable drive. It is unfortunate indeed; by attempting a home repair before sending the drive to Alandata, this client drove the last nail in the coffin for his personal data. It is important to fully realize the value of your own pictures and documents before tampering with such a complicated and delicate system as a modern hard disk drive.

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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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Drive Model: HDT721010SLA360 Hitachi 1tb

Location: Data Recovery Orange County

Customer Problem: Drive clicks. Drive started clicking when I tried to turn my computer on.


hdt721010sla360_head     hdt721010sla360_platter

This hard drive was clicking very hard and making a clunking noise. We opened the drive in our clean room and we can clearly see why it was clicking. The image on the left shows the heads are mangled and bent. The copper wires that lead to the heads are twisted like a pretzel and if you look closely at the black box (the head) which the wires lead to; you can see dirt and debris build up from scrapping the platter. The image on the right shows the rings left behind which was caused from the heads rubbing against the platter.

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Drive Model: ST9500325AS Seagate Momentus 5400.6 500gb

Location: Data Recovery Los Angeles

Customer Problem: Drive beeps. This is a laptop secondary drive that failed after a few months of little use. Drive failed after laptop was dropped.

st9500325as_benthead       st9500325as_benthead2

These are the heads that came out of the seagate laptop hard drive. They are supposed to be perfectly straight, but as you can see they are curved and stretched out like a rubber band. The heads are damaged, but the platters are fine. With new parts we can rebuild this hard drive in our clean room and recover the data.



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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.