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Hard Drive Recovery Breakdown – Heads Platters and Clicking

Hard drive recovery is the repair of physically damaged hard drives including heads, platters and a clicking sound. Even though clicking is by far the most common noise that a hard drive will make when failing, there are a few other noises such as whining and phaser noises that indicate electronic problems or worse case, motor issues and failing bearings. This is a common hard drive recovery scenario especially on laptop hard drives.

A clicking hard drive is making that noise for one of two reasons:

  1. Damaged Heads and/or Platters – if the heads get damaged then they can no longer read the platters and will go into a seek pattern. This will cause a clicking noise as the arms go back and forth. This can also happen when the hard drive has been exposed to excessive heat. If the platters swell then the heads can no longer find sector 0 and again go into a seek pattern. If this is the case, the only recourse is to open the disk and replace the heads. This is hard drive recovery.
  2. Loss of communication between electronics and internal ROM chip – there are a lot of electronics and chips on both the outside PCB board as well as internally. These electronics communicate with each other in a language called microcode. Each hard drive manufacturer has their own encrypted version of microcode. Hard drive recovery companies like DTI Data, need to not only be able to repair hard drives, but repair chipsets and unlock encrypted microcode. We have databases full of different hard drive microcode and service area byte maps. When any of the chips fail to properly communicate to the heads, they send the armature into a seek mode, similar to what happens when heads fail. This is the most common misconception in the hard drive recovery industry. 6 out of 10 hard drives that come in for recovery that have been opened by other companies, need never have been taken apart at all. they hear clicking noises and automatically open the drive and change the heads. There is no way that a cheap data recovery company can afford the research and development costs incurred in the hardware and software needed to perform hard drive recovery on high capacity (over 250 GB) disks that entail microcode problems. Beware of where you send your hard drive, make sure they have a clean room and have had success on large capacity hard disk drives. Western Digital is the only hard drive company that authorizes data recovery companies. Type in “western digital data recovery partners” into Google and their page will come up. You will note that DTI Data is on that list. We are a real data recovery company authorized to open disks and do hard drive recovery on Western Digital drives!

Breaking Down Hard Drive Recovery – A Look at Platters, Heads and Internal Parts

The first graphic below is the internal parts of a hard drive laid out and identified by their common industry names. Just about all hard drive repair involves the parts below as well as some specialty software that can write to a service area and replace bad sectors and access the data on a damaged hard drive.

The Parts Of A Hard Drive

The Parts Of A Hard Drive

The next image is a close up of the heads and the platters:

Hard Drive Recovery Parts

Hard Drive Recovery Parts

Hard drive recovery is a serious business be sure that you research the company that you send your damaged hard disk to. Feel free to call DTI at 866-438-6932 or visit our hard drive recovery page. There is also information on hard drive repair clicking.


5 Responses to “Hard Drive Recovery Breakdown – Heads Platters and Clicking”

  1. Joseph Whitehead January 22, 2009 4:01 am #

    What’s sad is all the drives that seem to spin up, make the exact same sounds as normal, but are unfathomably undetectable after a reboot. I’m willing to bet that we won’t just see the S ones named after a fish, have this problem since the SATA buss is a purely serial format with insane timing. What’s funny is that with firmware glitching like that, that your data is most likely entirely intact physically. It’s just the small part about being 2 inches away and might as well be a light-year that drives owners crazy. It’s literally getting stuck behind the logic board. That last step will always get you!

    Needless to say, having a mirrored/FEC ECC RAID is nice, but doesn’t do nearly as good as putting data offsite.

  2. Rick Milam January 26, 2009 3:08 pm #

    I have a PC, when it boots I get a message that reads (boot failure: system halt).
    What do I do, or what can I do?

    Thank you for your time.

    • DTI Data Recovery January 27, 2009 4:45 pm #


      Have you tried any of the advanced boot options? What version of Windows are you running?

  3. Antika November 20, 2009 11:49 pm #

    My Seagate 250GB external hard drive platters are damaged badly. Any chance of recovering the data?

    • Jacqui Best November 24, 2009 1:22 pm #

      How do you know the platter are damaged?

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