In the event of dropping a hard disk drive it is important not to panic. Do not under any circumstances power the drive up. Hard disk drives are delicate devices built to high tolerances, and therefore vulnerable to physical impacts and even slight knocks can produce surprising levels of damage.
It is during the power-up phase that the results of even the smallest impact event can result in severe damage. A professional data recovery company should be contacted who have the required knowledge and expertise required to rebuild the drive. It is most important that you inform us that the drive has suffered an impact, so that the correct procedures are followed.
What Happens to the Hard Drive
Upon impact there are two typical failures which occur, these being to the read/write heads or the spindle motor. The result of both these failures is a drive which when powered up, will start to cause physical damage to the disk platters, eventually leading to a total loss of data.
A failure of the spindle motor could cause an alignment problem, which could lead to the read/write heads being brought into contact with the platters. It could also set up a resonance, causing vibrations, also resulting in the read/write heads impacting with the surface of the platters.
If the impact damages the read/write heads their alignment is very likely to be outside the normal tolerances, which will lead to them coming into contact with the platters if power is applied to the drive.
Dropped Hard Drive Recovery
Once a hard disk drive has suffered an impact, which could even be something as simple as hitting your laptop, the drive must not be powered back up. The hard drive must be opened only in a clean environment, by qualified personnel such as a data recovery specialist who will rebuild the drive, so that all the data can be recovered.
Even if the drive has not be powered up, there is a small chance that some surface damage to the platters will be present, particularly if the drive was operating at the time of the impact event. The recovery rate from dropped hard drives is high, so it’s best not to take a chance by attempting to recover the data yourself, after an accident has happened.