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Hard Drive Platters and Spindle

The platters of a hard drive are the magnetic disks that store program and user data along with key firmware that the hard drive needs to operate. The drive's spindle rotates the platters at steady speeds while actuator heads move across their surface to read and write data.

Hard Drive Platters and Spindle

Platter and spindle issues often occur in a matter of minutes, leaving computer users without their most important files.

Platters store data in concentric tracks, and each track is divided into sectors. The actuator heads float over the platters on a thin cushion of air, receiving commands from the hard drive's controller board and moving quickly from track to track to read specific sectors.

While the actuator's motor speeds up and slows down to send the heads to different parts of the disk, the platters always spin at a consistent speed. Most hard drives spin at 4800-7200 rotations per minute (RPM). The spindle has a number of coated bearings that prevent the drive from building up too much friction during high-speed operation.

The platters of a hard drive are normally made from plastic or glass and coated in a thin material that stabilizes magnetic charges from the actuator heads. If this layer of material sustains damage or if airborne particles touch the surface of the disks while the hard drive is operating, the drive will be unable to read data. Likewise, a hard drive cannot function if its spindle bearings lock up or its actuator heads cannot locate specific tracks.

Common Platter and Spindle Issues

Platter and spindle failures share a number of symptoms with other component failures. As a result, platter damage and spindle issues are often difficult to diagnose without professional data recovery tools.

Failure symptoms for platter and spindle issues include:

  • Whining or Whirring Noises
  • Firmware Issues and Bad Sector Error Messages
  • Hard Drive Fails to Boot or Mount
  • Hard Drive Powers On But Does Not Spin

Platter damage is often accompanied by actuator assembly failure. If the actuator heads of the drive are in direct contact with the platters, you may cause serious media damage by attempting to boot the device. Platter damage will greatly decrease your chances of a successful recovery.

Never operate a hard drive that displays any symptoms of a mechanical failure. Do not run data recovery software on the drive. Software cannot successfully bypass a mechanical issue, and running a data recovery tool can cause permanent data loss.

Safe Data Recovery Techniques for Damaged Hard Drives

All platter and spindle issues should be treated in a Cleanroom. Platter contamination can cause serious data loss and media damage, and Cleanroom technology provides appropriate filtering to keep media safe during physical repairs.

Secure Data Recovery Services operates a Certified Class 10 ISO 4 Cleanroom, which allows fewer than 10 particles per cubic foot. We perform platter swaps, head replacements, spindle repairs and other sensitive procedures in this safe environment, and we always take appropriate precautions to protect our clients' media. Visit our Cleanroom page for more information or to view our certification documents.

If a hard drive sustains platter damage, we can often read past damaged tracks by using specialized firmware tools. Secure Data Recovery Services' engineers have years of experience with various filesystems and file types, and by working directly with damaged data, they can often fully recover critical files and folders from drives with bad platter areas.

Data recovery costs and turnaround times vary depending on hard drive model, operating system, extent of platter damage and other factors. Secure Data Recovery Services offers multiple service levels, including a 24/7/365 emergency data recovery option with a 48-hour average turnaround time.

Finding a Secure, Certified Data Recovery Provider

Look for a data recovery company that takes appropriate precautions with recovered files. Secure Data Recovery Services was the first provider to earn a SSAE 18 Type II Certification, and we regularly invest in new technologies to ensure consistent security at our facilities.

Secure Data Recovery Services is:

  • PCI Security Certified
  • SAS 70 and SSAE 18 Type II Certified
  • A Certified General Services Administration (GSA) Contractor
  • An Information Systems Security Association (ISSA) Member

Unlike many other data recovery companies, we keep our certifications updated and provide proof of our audits and attestations. Visit our certifications page for more information or to view compliance documents.

Free Media Diagnostics for Mechanically Damaged Hard Drives

Secure Data Recovery Services offers free media diagnostics for damaged hard drives. If you believe that your HDD suffers from a spindle failure, platter damage or any other issue, our engineers can provide a fast and accurate diagnosis. Each evaluation report contains a no-obligation price quote and turnaround estimate.