Data Recovery Guide

How does the data recovery process work?

Once we receive your hard drive, it will be logged into our system & queued for evaluation by one of our data recovery technicians.

An initial FREE data recovery diagnosis report will be produced and emailed to you which tell you about the failure mode of the drive. Hard disk failure mode can be either Logical, where a drive is working, but the data is no longer accessible or electronic failure where one or more components have failed on the electronics board or logic board on the back of the hard drive. Another possibility is that the internal pre-amplifier circuitry located inside the disk has failed. Another mode of failure is mechanical failure which means either the read/write heads or the motor have become faulty; This is normally associated with clicking or a grinding noise when you power up the hard drive. For a successful data recovery, faulty parts have to be replaced in a class 100 clean room using a donor hard disk. This will repair the hard disk temporarily and allows the data technicians to recover or extract as much data as possible. The report will contain the nature of the failure, cost of data recovery and an estimated completion date with various service options.

Upon receiving your approval to proceed, your hard drive will be “cloned”, to safeguard the integrity of your data as all recovery procedures are performed on an exact sector by sector duplicate of your original drive and queued for the actual data recovery procedures.

If your hard drive is repairable, and passes all the “hard drive fitness test” then we will return your data on your repaired drive. If it is determined that your drive cannot be repaired or the repair is temporary just for the sake of data recovery, we would then return your recovered data in a variety of ways, including copying it onto a new hard drive or writeable CD/DVDs. If you have brought your laptop or PC for data recovery, then we would replace the faulty hard drive, reload your Operating System and copy the recovered data back onto the computer’s new hard drive. (Additional costs may apply in this case therefore we will seek your approval before doing so.)

The data on the image media would be tested for accessibility and integrity and that the critical files open within their respective programs, any further logical repairs are made if necessary.

We will keep a copy of your data for 8 days week to ensure the successful your data has been received safely. After 8 days, your data will be automatically erased from our data recovery servers.
Defective Hard Disk Drive Heads: Commonly known as the ‘Click of Death’. Your hard drive is on its way out, along with your data. When the drive initially powers up, a logical procedural check is initiated to ensure that the drive has gained the required level of speed before positioning the heads across the platters. If the drive does not reach a ‘Ready’ state, the logic is repeated for a set number of times causing a clicking sound, after which it stops trying. The hard disk drive will appear dead.

Do not run “software” recovery programs in this state. They cause Disk I/O read / writes, and
this exerts a lot of stress on the read/write heads, which in turn causes errors to be written onto the disk, further decreasing the chances of data recovery.


Crashed Hard Drive Heads: In the event of a head crash, the hard drive will most likely make a grinding or scraping noise. This is very serious and may stripping the magnetic coating off the platters. This is highly damaging to the drive. Immediately turn the drive off and disconnect it from your computer. DO NOT ATTEMPT TO POWER ON THE COMPUTER OR THE HARD DRIVE AS THIS MAY CAUSE IRREVERSIBLE DAMAGE. At this stage, you need to call the Data Recovery Lab technicians on 0207 516 1077 who will advise you what to do next.

Hard Disk Drive Motor Failure: A typical hard drive motor usually spins between 4200rpm and can go up to 15000rpm in high-end end desktop or server hard drives. This is precisely controlled by firmware- information held in the system area of the hard drive-to enable synchronisation for reading the data from the platters. Hard drive motor can fail in two ways; it won’t either spin or won’t start. In this case the motor gets stuck and you can usually feel a slight vibration or hear a humming sound on the drive when it powers up. Erratic speed variations of the motor may cause the drive to take an extended period of time to come to the ‘Ready’ state. Please note that prolonged or repeatedly powering up the hard drive could cause further damage. Turn the computer off or disconnect the hard drive and call the Data Recovery Lab technicians on 0207 516 1077 who would advise you what to do next.

Hard Disk Drive not seen in BIOS: BIOS stands for Basic Input/Output System and it simply provides a set of instructions to your computer, telling it how to start, and how to interface to the first ‘Boot’ device. When it reaches the first boot device, it then receives further instructions from there to follow up, and eventually loads your operating system if everything is OK. During the start-up, the BIOS may fail to detect the hard drive, and therefore it is not listed by the BIOS during POST. First, check all connections and try again. If it still doesn’t work, failure to recognise the hard drive may have been caused by a number of factors, like corrupt boot sector. However, at start-up, your computer you can tell whether the drive has been detected by the BIOS or not. Power up the computer, and look for the on-screen instruction to tell you how to enter the BIOS. Usually this is achieved by pressing F1, F2 or DEL keys. Examine the menus for options on viewing the BIOS IDE peripheral setup and set your BIOS to automatically detect IDE drives. On some BIOSes there is an option to “automatically detect hard drives now”. If you run this option and the computer ‘hangs’ or appears inactive for a a minute or more then it is likely that your Hard Disk Drive has failed to be recognised by the system BIOS. Before getting too worried, power down the computer and unplug the hard disk and check if all the jumpers on the hard drive are set correctly according to the hard disk manufacturer’s instructions. Incorrect jumper setting can prevent the hard drive from being detected by the BIOS. In some hard drives such as IBM and Hitachi, incorrect settings will corrupt the data and damage the logical structure of the hard disk. Again, at this stage, you need to consult a Data Recovery Lab technician who would advise you what to do next. Remember, data recovery analysis and consultation is FREE with Data Recovery Lab. Unlike many other UK data recovery companies, we do not charge for data recovery analysis or data recovery consultancy. You only pay if we successfully recover your data.

Power Surge, Reversed Polarity, Power Supply plugged in the wrong way around: This is a frequent occurrence – particularly plugging the power lead in the wrong way around. Despite the shape of the Molex connector, the cheaper versions are often are made of a soft plastic and can easily be plugged in incorrectly. Often this results in the drive appearing totally dead with no noise coming from the motor and an unpleasant burning smell. This is specially true if you try to plug a laptop hard drive in a USB enclosure or if you plug the laptop hard drive to a an IDE-to-laptop connector incorrectly. You must make sure you do the right the thing as the outcome of your mistakes can be disastrous. Similar faults occur when the power surge can damage the computer motherboard and hard drive circuitry. In this case, you must immediately unplug the computer from the mains power supply and withdraw the hard drive to a safe place until data recovery can take place.

Data Recovery Lab technicians can recover data from the following faulty hard drives:

* Desktop/Laptop/Notebook USB & Firewire IEEE1394 hard disks;
* Repair / Recover fix Mechanical / Electrical / Firmware Hard Disk drive Problems;
* Hard Disk Drive not recognised in BIOS;
* Noisy Hard Drives with clicking, scraping or clunking sound;
* Hard disks with read/write head crashes;

File Repair and/or data recovery from the following file systems:

FAT FAT32 and NTFS file systems; Linux with EXT2fs, EXT3, XFS, file sytems on standalone & RAID volumes; Data recovery from from faulty or corrupt partitions, even if the boot sector or FAT has been erased or damaged; Data recovery from all Win 95, Win 98, Win ME, NT 4.0, Windows™ XP and Windows™ 2000 systems;

Data Recovery Lab technicians are able to recover / retrieve files in the following situations:

– UNC Uncorrectable Data Error – especially Maxtor SATA;
– Damaged Hard Drive As A Result of Power Surge;
– Hard drives damaged as a result of reversed power polarity and/or voltage from incorrectly plugging in power leads or cable;
– Data corruption in FAT/FAT32/NTFS File Systems
– Recycle Bin emptied or files were deleted without Recycle Bin;
– Data Loss As A Result Of Hardware or Software failures;
– Data loss As a Result of Power failure and power outages;
– Data Loss as a result of virus attack or virus infection;
– Data recovery from formatted or repartitioned hard drives;
– Data loss due to improper system shutdown;
– Data loss due to partitioning or boot sector problems
– Data loss due to hard drive PCB or logic board failure
– Data loss as a result forgotten or lost ATA password or decryption key

> If you have any questions or concerns, please do contact us on 0207 516 1077. We are fully committed to easing the fear and frustration that is normally associated with recovering from a data loss. Next time, do make sure your back up your data!