Can you recover data from a damaged hard drive?

When a hard drive has suffered physical damage – whether due to a fall, electrical surge, mechanical failure or anything else – it does not necessarily mean that the data that you have stored on it is lost forever. Yes, it’s possible that the damage is so severe that your data is beyond retrieval but this is a lot less likely than you may think.

If your hard drive has suffered physical damage, what you do after you’ve realised that something’s amiss is absolutely vital. So, if your computer fails to boot, your hard drive starts to make suspicious noises or you have good reason to believe your drive’s damaged (if you recently dropped the device housing it, for example) power it down immediately. Trying to boot up the drive under such circumstances is likely to do further damage so our advice is always to remain calm and turn it off as soon as possible.

Following this, it can be tempting to try and attempt a DIY recovery. Be warned, though, the internet is full of recommendations that are actually going to do far more harm than good like the ‘freezer method’.

Data recovery software is another common tool a home user may employ in order to try and recover their precious files but, if your drive has suffered from physical damage, it’s not going to work. Put simply, data recovery software is designed to recover data lost due to logical errors and will be of no benefit in this instance as a result. In fact, as utilising such software incorrectly can actually make the problem worse, it’s not something we’d advise anyone other than the most technically proficient of users attempt even if could potentially help.

Sadly, DIY options very rarely yield the results users desire and the task of recovering data from a physically damaged hard drive is one that will almost certainly require the drive be removed from its casing. As a result, its owner will most likely need to instruct a professional data recovery company. What’s more, they’ll need to ensure that said company has a clean room as the microscopic particles present in the air are more than capable of causing irreparable damage to a drive’s magnetic platters and prevent any kind of recovery whatsoever.

Naturally, we’d recommend you choose Fields Data Recovery – and you can book a free, no-obligation data recovery diagnostic here – but, whoever you do choose, please don’t try a DIY data recovery!