Frequently Asked Questions

How does a fall or drop damage the files inside a hard drive?

Although the files aren’t physical components of your drive, remember that they are still stored in the drive itself—think of it as the drive’s circuits having the files coded in. A fall could possibly dislodge the drive’s circuitry, which in turn could damage its ability to store data—meaning, loss of files.

How does a power surge damage a hard drive?

Many electronics’ internal parts are connected via a PCB: printed circuit board. As the entire device is powered by electricity, a sudden surge has a chance of overloading one or more circuits. Too much electricity in the circuit can cause those components to malfunction, which then can lead to losing data stored in the drive.

What is firmware corruption?

Firmware is the particular software that provides control, monitoring and data manipulation of a product or system. Most firmware in a system is permanent—meaning, it can’t be uninstalled and isn’t meant to be tampered with. Damage to the system from one source or another (be it physical trauma or some form of malware) could end up making unwelcome alterations to this firmware, which in turn affects the parts of a system’s programs that are integral to its functions.

What is file structure damage?

Every file is saved in a specific format. This is why you’ll often see file extensions like .doc, .xls, etc. This means that every file is recognized by your computer (and others) as a very specific type of file, opened (and modified) using specific programs (like Microsoft Word for .doc files). Corruption or damage to a file may cause a system to be unable to recognize it, or possible even have the file’s structure scattered across different folders of the hard drive.

Why is it unsafe to delete or format your hard drive?

Simply deleting files or formatting a hard drive, without the proper programs for reinstallation or reboot, can cause serious damage to a system—notably this could mistakenly affect critical files such as a computer’s firmware. Many cases needing data recovery have been prompted by a user proceeding with a delete or reformat and accidentally wiping some crucial software off the hard drive.

What is “bad sectors” damage?

A bad sector is, simply put, a part of a hard drive damaged so badly that the computer can’t read or write to it. This usually happens because of physical damage (wear and tear, or the aforementioned falls), which very rarely can be fixed, and software damage, which is usually fixed by formatting the drive or recovering data. If not fixed in a timely manner, some bad sectors might become permanent damage—necessitating replacement of the hard drive instead of simply fixing it.

How do I get my data back?

Your data is written to a new hard drive which we provide within the cost of the recovery.

We warranty the drive and the data written. If for any reason the drive supplied to you is damaged or the data corrupted, you can return the drive and we will replace the drive under the warranty.

Our drives are tested and verified before any recovered data is written to the destination drive.

The hard drives we use are the highest quality and are specifically purchased for this purpose.

What happens to my hard drive after the recovery attempt?

Following the recovery process, we have several options.

We can return the old drive to you. The cost of the postage and packing is $30.

We can recycle some components.

We can securely destroy the hard drive and erase the disc(s).

Most hard drives will require some form of repair in order to recover the data. After all, this is why they have failed in the first place. A repaired hard drive has a limited lifespan and will most certainly fail in the future.

Frequently Used Terms

Heads & Platters

The heads of a hard drive are the tiny sensors that interface with other devices in order to read and write data—if you placed the end of a hard drive’s plug under magnification, these would be the tiny metallic ‘pointy bits’ that fit into the socket. A platter is the part of a hard drive where data is stored; these are inside the hard drive and look like glass or aluminum discs. The most common interaction here is that heads are what your device uses to write files onto the platter.

PCB

Short for printed circuit board. A non-conductive surface within an electronic device that uses conductive tracks, copper sheets, and other types of devices to connect the various components of the machine. If the machine itself were a series of railways, think of the PCB as the ground upon which the tracks are laid.

Firmware

A specific type of software that provides control, monitoring and data manipulation for an electronic device. Firmware is generally crucial to a system’s operation and meant to be permanent—your average user shouldn’t be able to tamper with, modify or uninstall firmware. An example of computer firmware is the BIOS—software a user very rarely interacts with unless doing some extremely advanced troubleshooting of the system. Other machines that user firmware are television remote controls, or navigational computers installed in automobiles.

SSD

Solid state drive/disk. A type of more advanced hard drive technology named so because it is constructed without any moving mechanical components—it’s effectively one ‘solid block’ of machinery. This is achieved by using integrated circuit assemblies, a.k.a. having electronic circuits built into one small plate (known as the “chip”). The result is a tougher, more secure hard drive that’s also more expensive than traditional types of storage.

RAID

Redundant array of independent (formerly inexpensive) disks. A type of data storage technology that makes use of multiple physical disk drive components and has them as one unit in order to achieve data redundancy and possibly improve performance—effectively files being stored across several drives multiple times in order to make their storage even more secure. There are several ways to distribute drives in this manner, known as RAID levels (usually noted by a number i.e. RAID 0, RAID 1), and higher RAID levels provide greater protection against loss of files and development of bad sectors.

Secure wipe

Simply put, removing data from a drive in a safe manner—the most common example is properly uninstalling a program, instead of simply hitting Delete. Not undergoing a secure wipe of files may lead to software problems.

Encryption

Encoding information in such that only someone with authorization can access it. Most often achieved through security keys or passwords, though more advanced (and obscure) forms of encryption exist that need entire programs to decode them for reading.

Password removal

Removing a password set in the system, or resetting it to the default password (as part of restoring to factory settings). Generally done to provide a new user or a technician access to some files they couldn’t access otherwise.

Bad sectors

Parts in a drive’s storage space damaged to the point that they are no longer recognizable by the device itself. Can come about due to physical damage to a drive’s components, or software damage (i.e. corrupted files).

USB flash drives

One of the most common forms of data storage device today, usually no larger than a man’s thumb. Still in common use due to their compatibility with USB ports, which most computers have built into them for interfacing with a variety of devices and peripherals. Flash drives are most often used for quickly transferring small to medium files from one device to another.

ROM chip

ROM is for read-only memory, or the segment of a computer’s software that is basically hardwired into it—a.k.a. meant to be effectively unmodifiable (usually due to it being crucial to a system’s functions: see firmware). The ROM chip is the part of a computer’s circuitry that contains this very important piece of data. Take note that ROM isn’t impossible to modify—just very difficult, and extremely risky to the device’s functions.

Controller chip

The part of a computer’s circuitry that interfaces with a peripheral device—basically any other device that plugs into the computer and functions with it (most notably the mouse, keyboard and speakers). Some computers have controllers that are external to the device, but they are more often integrated into the circuitry of the computer itself. Not to be confused with controller in the gaming sense, which refers to peripherals that plug into a device (computer or gaming console) and manipulate its operations; usually referred to as game controllers or less formally, gamepads (“pad” for short).