Hard Drive Failure Scenarios

There are many ways in which a hard drive can fail and it’s important to acknowledge the variety, difficulty and steps to recovery for each. Scroll through the scenarios below and realize that at 24 Hour Data, our engineers offer comprehensive repair and data recovery services for all hard disc drives and flash memory devices, for any cause of HHD failure.

Disk Formatting / Accidental Deletion

It’s not as easy to re-format a hard drive as it was in the days of DOS, when all it took was typing the F-Disk command. But it can happen – usually when you are installing new hardware, or attempting to format a different drive on a computer. If you do happen to re-format the drive, or accidentally delete specific files or folders, your hard disk drive requires what we call a logical recovery.

Fortunately, a logical recovery is easier and costs less than a repair of hardware, required when there is physical damage. In many cases, we’ll have your lost data back within 24 hours during a logical recovery.

It’s important not attempt DIY recovery software, as you could accidentally overwrite deleted files, making it more difficult for a professional service to retrieve them.


When your hard drive falls victim to the latest virus or malware infection, our engineering team will first identify and eradicate the virus or malware and then recover the lost data.

Corrupted Files / Blue Screen of Death

You may experience the Blue Screen of Death (BSOD) or STOP screen on your Windows-based PC for any number of reasons. In all cases, the BSOD makes it impossible to access your files. Experienced PC users or technicians can perform a number of troubleshooting steps to discover the reason for a BSOD. But if the reason is hard drive failure due to corrupt files, you’ll need a professional data recovery service to repair the drive and recover your lost data.

Hard Drive Failure Due to Age

According to research published by Backblaze, a data backup service, 80 percent of all hard drives last four years but, after that time, the failure rate rises dramatically. Drives that die due to old age may suffer physical or logical failure. A full-service data recovery firm like 24 Hour Data can diagnose the problems and recover lost data.

Aging hard drives sometimes experience a mechanical head crash, resulting in loss of data. Sometimes, the drive will suffer an electronic failure, where the circuit board fails. This failure can be accelerated by heat damage, which is why it’s important to keep your computer in a room that is not too warm, keep it out of direct sunlight or closed cars during the summer time, and to ensure your PC has the appropriate cooling systems to prolong its life.

In many cases, if your drive has experienced physical damage, your computer’s BIOS won’t detect the drive. In other cases, the drive may click or grind or simply fail to boot up. In any event, it’s important to power down your computer and contact a professional service before you cause further damage to the drive, making it more difficult to recover lost data.

Hard disk drives may also suffer logical failure due to age, where the data on the platter is simply unreadable after time.

Hard Drive Head Crash and Platter Damage

Here at 24 Hour Data, we see a lot of hard drives brought into us after the head crashes and damages the platter. Commonly known as “shock damage” (not to be confused with an “electric shock,” or damage caused by a power surge), head crashes and platter damage occurs after a drive has been dropped or knocked. Surprisingly, dropping an HDD only a few inches onto a hard surface can cause shock damage.

To understand how this happens, it’s helpful to understand a bit about the anatomy of a hard disk drive. HDDs read and write data when magnetic heads float above the surface of the platter (or disk), reading the data in the various sectors. When a hard drive head crashes, the head makes contact with the platter, creating damage and render all or some of the data unreadable.

If the head gets stuck on the platter, it will continue to “grind,” rendering each section of data it touches inaccessible. This is why data recovery specialists often repeat the advice: If you hear your hard drive grinding or clicking, power down your computer immediately and do not attempt to reboot.

Rebooting the machine will force the head to continue to rub across the platter, causing further damage.

A hard drive that’s suffered a head crash and platter damage requires a certified clean room environment for repair.

Power Surge

Typically experienced when your computer experiences a power surge due to an automatic reboot. Power surges can also cause harm to a hard drive PCB/circuit board if your computer isn’t using a surge protector and there is a thunderstorm or direct hit from lightening.

To access your lost files, your HDD will require hard drive repair in a certified clean room environment. In some cases, a power surge will create excessive heat in your system unit, causing damage to individual files or sectors on the platter, as well as damage to the circuit board.

Water Damage

Whether a hurricane or flood in your home or business has damaged your hard drive, or your HDD suffered damage due to a freak accident, such as spilling a drink on your PC, 24 Hour Data can help. Water can cause the drive head to stick to the platter, corrupting the data on the drive. Or it can burn out the circuit board, causing the HDD to fail.

Water damage always has a physical component, which means we will diagnose and repair your drive in our certified clean room.

It’s important to know what to do if your HDD has suffered water damage. Here are the steps you should take:

  • Do not attempt to dry the drive. If you do, particles from the water could stick to the platters, causing further damage and making data recovery more difficult.
  • Before removing your hard drive from the computer, make sure the computer is unplugged.
  • Don’t try to clean the drive. Remove it carefully from your computer, package the drive and ship it to us, as-is, or keep it inside your PC and drop the entire system unit (without the keyboard, mouse, monitor or other components) at one of our nationwide drop-off centers.

Fire / Heat Damage

As we mentioned, heat can damage an HDD circuit board, preventing the drive from operating to read your data. Of course, fire can cause heat damage, but it can also melt the delicate components.

Saving a melted or burned hard drive to recover the data is one of the hardest tasks our data recovery specialists face here at 24 Hour Data. But it can be done and, fortunately, we have trained staff, each with more than a decade of experience, on the job to get your data back.

As with water damage, if your hard drive has been damaged due to fire or heat, do not attempt to boot up your computer. It’s preferable to leave your HDD inside your PC or Mac and drop off the entire system unit at one of our 15 convenient locations. If this isn’t possible, carefully remove the drive and ship it to us.

All hard drive repair following a fire requires physical recovery in a certified clean room environment. 24 Hour Data’s trained team of recovery specialists have seen it all, and have excellent odds of recovering your lost data. If we can’t recover any of your files, there’s no charge for our service.

24 Hour Data: Your Experts for Hard Drive Repair and Data Recovery

As much as we rely on our hard drives to store our mission critical data, family photos, important college papers, and more, HDDs are delicate instruments of intricate engineering. There are so many things that can go wrong. It’s important to choose a data recovery service with the knowledge, tools, and expertise to repair hard drives in order to recover lost data quickly and completely.

Whatever the reason for hard drive failure, 24 Hour Data has extensive experience in HDD repair and data recovery for businesses and individuals in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex and beyond.

If your drive has experienced only logical failure – that is, software failure vs. physical damage – our data recovery success rate sits at close to 100 percent. You have a good chance of seeing all your data recovered within 48 hours or less – and it may cost less than you might think.

If your HDD has suffered physical damage due to age, our data recovery specialists can repair the moving parts, inside in our certified clean room environment, extract the lost data, and provide a new hard disk drive to return confidential data back to you.

Our data recovery specialists will open the drive in this virtually dust-free environment, and attempt to temporarily repair the platter using our proprietary techniques.

Once the drive is repaired, we will retrieve your data. In some cases, we only have one chance to recover as much data as possible. Fortunately, 24 Hour Data’s retrieval rate is the highest in the industry for HDDs and if we can’t recover any of your files, there’s no cost to you.

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