Physical Data Recovery

By: Jamie Wallis

Data Recoveryprocess that leads to recovery or salvaging of data from physically crashed or damaged hard disk is known as Physical Data Recovery. When there is a physical damage with Hard Disk, need of Physical Data Recovery arises. Physical data recovery is the extraction of the raw data from a damaged disc. If a hard drive is not accessible by software such as the system BIOS, Windows' Disk Management, or other disk utilities it can be considered as truly dead and in need of physical data recovery.

Physical damage always causes at least some data loss, and in many cases the logical structures of the file system are damaged as well. A wide variety of failures can cause physical damage to storage media. CD-ROMs can have their metallic substrate or dye layer scratched off; hard disks can suffer any of several mechanical failures, such as head crashes and failed motors; and tapes can simply break.

Physical data recovery is essential when there is a physical problem with the media or plastics which prevents the data from being read normally. This type of recovery may include dealing with issues such as deteriorating magnetic coatings, cracked or broken reels/cartridge shells, creased tape edges, twisted or folded tape, stretched or broken tape, etc. This recovery type also includes capturing the data from media that has mistakenly subjected to adverse conditions such as water, mud, or other debris. While these physical issues are often difficult to handle, recovery of these types can usually be achieved in the high 98+ per cent range.

The chances of successful data recovery depend on the extent of the damage. Data recovery from a platter that has been heated up to Curie temperature (770 degrees Celsius for iron) is not even theoretically possible as this temperature completely demagnetizes the platters. Physical data recovery from a drive that has failed mechanically may not need any subsequent logical reconstruction if it can be successfully repaired, though in practice many physical repairs are followed by logical reconstruction if some data is permanently lost due to damaged disc surfaces.

Most physical damage cannot be repaired by end users. Some physical recoveries are very time consuming and can be expensive. In most cases, physical data recoveries offer excellent probabilities for a successful data recovery. Furthermore, end users generally do not have the hardware or technical expertise required to make these repairs; therefore, data recovery companies are consulted. These firms often use Class 100 cleanroom facilities to protect the media while repairs are being made. Different recovery experts offer different data recovery rates.

Physical damage can be caused due to:

* Moisture contact or penetration

* Exposure to extreme temperatures

* Variations in humidity

* Shock or force sustained

* Defective mechanical or electronic components

* Spike or surge in power source

* Degrading read/write heads

Some of the physical data recovery procedures are:

* Removing a damaged PCB (printed circuit board) and replacing it with a matching PCB from a healthy drive

* Changing the original damaged read/write head assembly with matching parts from a healthy drive, removing the hard disk platters from the original damaged drive and installing them into a healthy drive

* Removing the hard disk platters from the original damaged drive and installing them into a healthy drive

Attempting to solve the problem yourself is controversial because additional physical damage might occur in the process.

In physical failures the average recovery time is anywhere from 5 to 10 business days. In rare circumstances it does take longer to recover the data, especially if there is extensive damage to the platters and/or we have to order hard to find components. The time of recovery usually depends on three variables:

* What type of failure has occurred?

* What's the extent of the damage?

* Will it require the ordering of special components?

Pricing schemes vary widely from service to service. Physical data recovery is a highly sophisticated, and often expensive, service.

Data Recovery
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