What does a data recovery engineer do when a device has sustained electronic damage?
A common misconception is that hard drives, flash cards, and other devices can be easily repaired by re-soldering or replacing electronic components. While simple electronic repairs certainly play a role in our process, data recovery requires an extremely specialized set of electronic repair tools. It’s usually impossible to simply replace a component or even an entire printed circuit board (PCB) without affecting a storage device’s functionality.
This article gives an overview of the basic electronic repair methods we use when providing data recovery services. If you have a device with damaged electronics, call us at 1.800.237.4200 to get a quote.
Hard Drive Firmware and Microcode Repair Technology
Printed circuit boards allow hard drives and other devices to interact with your computer, and before your drive can read or write data, it consults firmware on its printed circuit board and on service tracks on the platters. Electronic issues such as power surges can affect the circuit board and damage the firmware; the firmware can also encounter issues during normal operation.
Hard drive firmware contains specific operational programming that allows the drive to function. This includes drive-specific information such as:
- Voice Coil Voltage
- Head-to-Head Relation (HHR)
- Spindle Speed
- Lists of Bad Sectors
Most of this information is on the service areas of the platter, but a small amount is contained on the electronics board. If the firmware is damaged, the hard drive will fail, since it doesn’t have all of the operating instructions it needs to function.
Unfortunately, firmware can be difficult to work with, since it’s different from drive to drive; while modern hard drives are similar within a “family” of model numbers, they’re by no means identical. This is why it’s not possible to simply switch out a damaged electronics board.
Datarecovery.com introduced a major innovation in the mid-2000s by establishing one of the industry’s first firmware repair laboratories. We can repair damage to both the electronics board and the service tracks of a hard drive, restoring temporary function and allowing for successful data recovery procedures. Our engineers can also repair or replace failed read/write heads and other mechanical components when necessary, and we recover over 95 percent of hard drives with electronic issues.
Electronics Repair Options for Flash Drives and Solid-State Drives
Flash devices such as USB thumb drives and solid-state drives also have precise electronics. As flash has become less expensive and more popular, we’ve developed tools to treat various types of NAND effectively. We outfit all of our laboratories with these tools in order to provide our clients with efficient service and high success rates.
Just as important is the expertise of our engineers – as with hard drives, no two flash devices are identical, and our flash data recovery engineers can create unique utilities when necessary to recover information in a usable state. This requires a complete knowledge of the algorithms that flash devices use to write and erase data.
Datarecovery.com’s success rates are extremely high for most flash devices. We offer free evaluations and price quotes, and if your device isn’t functional, we recommend an in-lab evaluation to limit the chances of accidental damage.
Call us at 1.800.237.4200 to speak with a data recovery electronics repair expert.