Welcome to HardDiskCrashed.com


Please take advantage of our current special offer $200 flat rate carry-in/take-out data recovery for Level 0 and Level 1 problems. This is for overnight service! You save an enormous amount of money by letting me work in my lab instead of traveling to you (my hourly fee is $200/hr and so is the trip charge).

The service is COD upon completion of recovery. We prefer cash and credit cards. Checks will be subject to the usual fees in the event of NSF.

There are limitations on this offer:

  1. RAID rebuilds are not included. I can fix them, but that kind of work typically requires access to your server’s unique hardware or a reasonable facsimile.
  2. This offer is limited to drives that can be imaged.
  3. Data reintegration is not included. If I recovered an Exchange database or an SQL database, I can help you reintegrate it into your environment. I can do things that Microsoft will officially call unsupportable, but then I can bring the environment back into a supportable state. This really is much like a puzzle. If you are an IT consultant, I will not approach your client directly unless you choose to invite me into that relationship.
  4. You will pay for the new hard disk. I will figure out which disk you need. Cheapest options cost less than $100, but we can upgrade all the way to top of the line, if that’s what you desire.

I recorded a quick youtube video outlining my process here:

Frying external HDDs and how to avoid it

External HDDs generally require a maximum of 12v

We hear many times “I plugged in the laptop’s power supply into my external HDD” when clients call us about data recovery.

The root cause of this situation is external enclosure manufacturers are refusing to implement simple safeguards against overvoltage. I generally hate proprietary power connectors, but they do make sense in the case of external HDDs.

Under no circumstances should you ever connect your laptop’s power supply, which is generally in excess of 12V, into your external hard drive enclosure.

This is especially true if you are in a pinch and need to power up the drive.

The consequences are severe:

If you are lucky, you can remove the drive from its enclosure and it may work.

Usually, you are not so lucky and fry at least the controller board, which is known as PCB.

From there, there are two modes of failure.

If you are lucky, an electronic repair to the controller board is sufficient. Expensive.

If you are unlucky, the drive must be opened. Very expensive and prone to failure with some of the newer HDD models.

If you are about to connect your external HDD into power and your laptop is unplugged, please connect the laptop’s power supply into your laptop first, just in case.

This may sound silly, but it’s better to avoid a very big headache for both of us. :)

Maxtor OneTouch III Turbo Hidden Risk Alert

There is nothing wrong with your drive, however, you may not be aware that you are currently at double the risk of failure.

Inside this particular box are two drives. By default, they are configured for RAID 0 configuration. That means that if any one of those drives dies, you will lose all data. Moreover, it will be a RAID 0 recovery case with an astronomical price tag.

It is a well-known fact that RAID0 storage devices should not be used to store data permanently. They are only to be used as temporary storage location that is constantly backed up. Unless you are using it for video or graphics work as temporary storage, your data is at double the risk of a single drive.

If you purchased this device with the intent of taking advantage of its “mirror” capability, you need to reconfigure it for RAID1. Please note that both drives will be wiped out.

Please, immediately backup the data on this drive and reconfigure it for RAID 1.

Elevated Risk Alert Advisory for Apple MacBook

We notice an alarming amount of cases where a specific Seagate Momentus hard drive inside an Apple laptop crashes and causes data loss.

All hard drives have what we refer to as “Firmware” or system software that makes the drive operational. The firmware version is typically printed on the top label of the drive.

Firmware 7.01 and 3.CAE

Drives with firmware 7.01 and 3.CAE have been identified as being responsible for a large number of data recovery cases and should be treated like a time bomb.

Thanks to Duncan for reminding me which firmware it was that started with a 3. on the newer Macbooks.

Drives affected by this advisory are known to have platter damage failure, which makes them difficult or impossible to recover.

The drive is covered by Apple and Seagate warranty, however, your data is not covered.

Apple MacBook users are advised to replace the internal drive in that laptop as soon as possible to minimize exposure to this particular risk.

We can assist you in cloning the original disk. In most cases, the replacement drive will boot up same as your old one would.

I am not aware of major systematic problems with other Seagate drives shipped OEM in Apple Macbooks, so I still use Seagate laptop drives.

Running CHKDSK correctly – Windows can corrupt data if you are not careful with CHKDSK

All too often I see the same scenario “I ran CHKDSK and now my data is corrupt”.

The wrong way

The hard disk is physically failing, and you let CHKDSK /R or CHKDSK /F run on it. Running CHKDSK on a failing hard drive is basically suicide for your data. CHKDSK is not a data recovery utility. It doesn’t behave like one. Data recovery utilities are cautious. If the sector is not readable, it will leave it be. CHKDSK will tenaciously retry until the data is not recoverable, mark the sector unrecoverable, and basically make my work a lot more difficult.

In summary, if your hard disk is failing, under no circumstances should you run CHKDSK on it. If Windows wants to run it, cancel it.

The correct way

A data recovery company, like yours truly, will take a disk image. On the PC, we typically use ddrescue. If the drive is too fragile for that utility, a specialty tool is pressed into service.

Once we have that image, we can do whatever we want with it. We can do it safely because we do not alter the original data. That means, that among other things, we can copy it, and run a CHKDSK on the copy of that image. If CHKDSK creates more problems than it solves, well, then we simply undo the damage by copying whatever useful result there was from this image, deleting it, and trying a different approach.

Why would we run CHKDSK in the first place, you might ask? Usually, we’ll run it if we are returning a bootable system to the customer. We want to ensure that it will function as it did pre-crash.

CHKDSK, when run on a healthy media, such as our lab virtual image drive, will correct NTFS errors that prevent Windows from starting.

Very expensive problem unique to external hard disks

Ordinarily, only about 1% of hard disks are affected by a motor seizure failure.

However, we see a trend where a large number of problems with external HDDs wind up with this very expensive problem. This is an abnormal trend and there is only one factor that significantly increases its likelihood of occurrence.

External hard disk spindle failure symptoms

If the motor inside the hard disk is not spinning and the drive was just tipped over, you just got one very expensive problem.

How can you tell if the disk is not spinning? If you hear an almost musical sound of 2 beeps and then the drive shuts down, then you probably got a spindle failure.

Usually, you’ll need to get the drive out of its enclosure to be able to listen to it properly.

Your data is probably safe

A motor seizure doesn’t actually cause data loss, in cases that I’d come across at the very least. It simply makes it very inconvenient to access that data. It’s frozen until the motor can be unfrozen.

How to prevent external HDD motor seizure

Fortunately, it’s simple to prevent.

Almost all cases begin with “My drive tipped over and… I need your help”

In order to avoid this really expensive repair, please do not run your external hard drives in vertical position. Lay them down, and your likelihood of encountering a spindle seizure will be significantly reduced.

Some disks look better than others when in horizontal position. I personally love Acomdata products. I do so for 3 reasons:

  1. Aluminum case acts like a heatsink. Hard disks hate heat. The colder they are, the longer they live.
  2. They look good and are stackable in horizontal position
  3. They are very easy to open to use as a normal external enclosure. Only 2 philips screws and the whole case opens up.

Why is motor failure expensive to repair?

Here is what we need to do in terms of fluid bearings failure.

  1. Open the disk and attempt to restart the motor
  2. Obtain an identical disk to use as a donor model. As we purchase these from specialty sellers, any drive of any vintage will likely cost at least $200. That drive will be destroyed.
  3. Perform platter transfer procedure. This takes about 4 hours due to extreme delicacy involved in the heads transfer process. The motor is built-in into the drive chassis to such an extent that it is impossible to replace without taking off the platters. At that point, one might as well simply transfer the platters and the system board to a known working drive chassis.

In summary, assuming the billable rate of $150/hr, you are looking at a $800-1000 bill for parts and labor. The recovery technicians really do have to do that much work in this case.

Data recovery is split about 80% logical issues, 15% electronics issues, 4% heads issue, and 1% motor failure. While 95% of issues are moderately easy to fix, the last 5 % is a genuine pain and specialty tools are required.

Motor failure is that 1% of issues that requires procedures normally performed in specialty “clean room” environment. Is a bona-fide clean room actually required? Not really, but during the head stack transfer procedure the drives are open for an extended period of time, so it helps to reduce any possible contamination. Heads failure is in the same category, but transferring just the heads is actually less hassle than transferring the platters is.

It takes specialized and expensive tools to perform this kind of work.

You will greatly reduce the risk of external hard disk drive failure if you simply use it horizontally.

Always have more than one backup! Keep at least one copy offsite, such as in a safety deposit box at your bank.

Keep copies of your most important documents and files on CDs and/or DVDs.