Getting Data Back From Your Failed Hitachi Hard Disk – There Is Still Hope

If your Hitachi hard disk has stopped working you’ve come to the right place. We’ve been recovering critical files from faulty Hitachis for years. We see outstanding rates of recovery on these hard disks, both desktop and laptop sized.

Hard disk failure is caused by physical or logical damage due to mechanical failure, electrical faults, software corruption or human error. Common symptoms of physical failure include:

  • clicking
  • irregular freezing
  • computer won’t start
  • hard drive not seen in BIOS
  • hard drive does not spin up and remains cold to the touch
  • computer starts but makes unusual noises
  • blue screen on boot up
  • computer stuck in reboot loop

Turnaround

If you need your data urgently go to our Emergency Data Recovery page for more information.

Standard Service analysis takes around 2 working days to complete, if not parts are required recovery can take around another three to four days. Some severe cases can take considerably more time and if replacement parts are required there may be a delay while they are shipped to us.

Example Recovery Procedure for a Hitachi HDT725050VLAT80

This gives an idea of the typical recovery process undertaken at Tierra.

In this instance the defective drive was a Hitachi HDT725050VLAT80 (500GB, 3.5″ IDE/P-ATA), manufactured in February 2007 and was fitted within a Buffalo Mini-station external enclosure. The client was in Wiltshire and reported that the drive was clicking and there was no access to the files.

We arranged for collection from the client and on arrival in the lab the Hitachi drive was removed from the Buffalo Mini-station enclosure and inspected. There were no signs that the unit had been dropped or suffered physical damage and the printed circuit board (PCB) showed nothing to suggest electrical problems.

The next stage was to try and clone the hard drive. This is always done as soon as is practicable as the process of analysis and sector extraction is always hard on a drive and it is better for that drive to be in good condition, also of course if the drive is not cloned and subsequently fails that may be the end of the recovery attempt so although it is time consuming it is also essential. Cloning the defective drive is one of the procedures that separates the good data recovery services from those that are out to skim the easy jobs and reject the rest.

In this case the drive did spin up but there was a quite low-pitched buzz repeated every 1 to 2 seconds. Crucially, it was not recognised by PC BIOS.

Subsequent testing revealed that the problem lay with the motor controller on the PCB (this controls the platter motor which spins the magnetically coated platters, in this case it was unable to maintain the correct speed).

It is seldom practical to carry out PCB component repairs and so a very closely matching PCB from our stock was used to replace the original defect drive PCB. Unfortunately (life never being a straight forward business) it was also necessary to transfer the portion of the firmware that resides on the PCB from the defect PCB to the donor. Firmware is information stored on the hard drive outwith the data area which is used by the drive to boot itself up and present itself to your PC or Mac. Some of it is unique to the individual hard drive , hence the need to transfer the PCB part of it. Without this transfer the platters will typically spin-up correctly but there will be no access to the user area. The ability to work reliably with firmware is another differentiator between those who are serious about disk recovery and those who are not.

At this point we had access and so the defect drive was cloned. There were a few bad sectors to work around but this was to be expected with a hard disk of this vintage.

The next stage was to scan the cloned drive and then extract all user data.

The last stage was to verify that the files pulled during the scan was intact. Unfortunately simply because a named file appears in a file pull does not mean that it has been recovered intact. There is only one way to confirm that any file has been recovered in an undamaged state and that is to open it. Most recoveries (like this one) consist of tens of thousands of files therefore it is essential to sample extensively to be sure that the recovery quality is sufficiently high. Sample screen shots of the recovered data (that is contact sheets for photographs and thumbnails showing the first page for document files) were forwarded to the client along with a full file list of all recovered files. At this point we also invited the customer to ask for screen shots demonstrating any files that were particularly critical to him.

Payment was then taken. The client purchased his own external hard drive from Amazon and had it sent directly to us (for the recovered data to be put onto). This was then done in encrypted format and returned to a thankful client.

We believe that this is how a thorough and safe Hitachi recovery should be carried out. If your lost data is critical then choose a company that cares about your precious library of files as much as you do and demonstrates that care in the procedures they apply.

What to do next

1. Call 0800 999 4447 or or fill out the enquiry box on the left. A recovery expert will talk to you about your drive and the Tierra process. We’ll answer all your questions.
2. If we believe your files are potentially recoverable, we will arrange to have your hard drive couriered to our lab
3. The drive will undergo analysis in our own labs. Once the analysis is complete we will provide you with the results by email and you choose if you wish to proceed with the recovery.
4. Once your Hitachi recovery has been successful we arrange for return of the files either on encrypted USB memory stick, DVD or external hard drive.