Recovering Data from a Fire-Damaged Drive

Recovering Data from a Fire-Damaged Drive

Fire and hard drives are natural enemies. Extreme heat can be devastating to the sensitive electronics at the heart of your storage device. Even relatively minor elevations in temperature can cause problems. That’s why computers have internal fans to dissipate heat, and why you’re advised to keep external drives in well-ventilated areas.

So what happens if your hard drive suffers catastrophic fire damage? Unfortunately, these kinds of data loss scenarios are far too common. The devastating loss of personal or business property to a fire, coupled with the fear that critical professional or personal data has been lost forever, can leave you feeling hopeless.

But despair is not always the end of the story. Secure Data Recovery has successfully restored access to data from drives that were literally burned to a crisp. We employ numerous purpose-built utilities for each data loss case, but one path to successful recovery after catastrophic fire damage involves your drive’s printed circuit board.

The Nerve Center of Your Hard Drive

The printed circuit board, or PCB for short, generally sits beneath the platters at the bottom of your drive. The printed circuits direct the flow of electricity to the components on the board that control the various parts of your drive. These parts include the spindle motor that spins the platter, the actuator that moves the read/write arm, and the arm that moves the head across the platter to store and retrieve data.

Sounds complicated? Here’s an overview of the internal structure of a typical hard drive. The basic idea here is that circuits on the board carry electricity to all the parts of the drive that need power. These parts use the power to carry out commands given to them by your computer. If a PCB malfunctions or becomes damaged, the drive will not function properly or stop working altogether.

Successful Recovery Depends on the Extent of Damage

PCBs aren’t the only issue at stake when a drive suffers fire damage. How long a drive is exposed to high temperatures and direct damage to the platter from fire or the water used to put it out can also determine if data recovery is possible. Extreme heat from a fire can also damage the ROM or controller chip on the PCB.

Most hard drive PCBs contain some form of ROM or “read only memory” device. It contains specific data that controls access to the hard drive system. Without it, the drive cannot function. If fire damage to the ROM chip is too severe, the drive will be unrecoverable. But with the right tools, even a badly damaged PCB or ROM chip can be repaired to facilitate data recovery.

Rescuing Your Data from the Flames

The data recovery engineers at Secure Data Recovery Services specialize in worst-case data loss scenarios. Platter and PCB damage are among those worst-case situations. Damaged PCBs and ROM chips require delicate repairs to make stored data retrievable. But often that’s just the start of a long, complex process.

Once a fire-damaged drive has been cleaned and its damaged components restored, it needs to be imaged and the data manually extracted. Secure Data Recovery engineers have numerous proprietary and custom-built utilities at their disposal for just such extreme cases. Each data loss scenario is unique, and our specialists know that there’s no one tool for every job.

Data Recovery Specialists You Can Trust

Platter and PCB damage are among the trickiest data loss situations you can face. There are never any guarantees. But Secure Data Recovery Services has managed to achieve a verified success rate of 96 percent, even among cases of severe fire damage. We can easily take for granted that our most precious family memories — photos and videos taken over the course of a lifetime and stored on hard drives — will be safe forever.

But tragedy can strike at any time, and your first call is the most critical one. Secure Data Recovery Services has the most industry-specific certifications of any data recovery service. You can drop off your damaged drive at one of more than 250 partner locations across North America. Or you can ship free of charge to one of our certified lab facilities.

Our data recovery engineers will complete a free and thorough diagnostic analysis in one of our Class 10 ISO 4 cleanrooms. You will receive a full report of required services and won’t pay anything until your data is restored. We also stand proudly by our “no data, no recovery fee” guarantee. You can see precisely how the process works.

Don’t risk losing a lifetime of irreplaceable memories. If you experience data loss for any reason, call us at 1-800-388-1266 to speak to a data recovery specialist. We’re here for you 24/7.

Philip Bader, Content Writer
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After more than a decade in Southeast Asia as a reporter and editor for magazines, newspapers, and online media organizations, Philip Bader now serves as a freelance content writer for Secure Data Recovery Services. He writes blogs and web content about data storage technology, trends in enterprise data recovery, and emerging data storage technology.

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