Head Crash and Scratched Platters

What are the platters in a hard drive and where they located?

Finding a professional data recovery service that will help educate you along the way, can be challenging. Inside the hard drive a little bit like a record player. You have the platters which are like the records, and then the read/write heads actuator arm which is like the needle on the arm.

The platters are where the data is actually written to and read from when the hard drive is communicating with the computer.

During initialization period the heads will travel over the platters to an area called the service area where there is software written that the functionality of the drive depends on. Scratching the platters in this area will render the drive completely useless and the data unrecoverable.

What is a hard drive head crash?

When platters are damaged it is usually in the form of scratching caused by debris and or the read/write heads when they come in contact during the reading writing process.

This is also known commonly as a head crash, although that term is often mistakenly used by inexperienced individuals to relate to clicking drives, or hard drives that need a read/write head replacement.

Once the platters are scratched to a certain degree this will in turn damaged the read/write heads and will render the drive unreadable. Oftentimes this results in a clicking, scratching, chirping, or screeching sounds. However, these sounds don’t automatically mean the platters are scratched.

When the platters are scratched in this manner the drive will not be able to be recovered, the files and data contained on the drive will be lost forever. This is known as a catastrophic head crash and most hard drive failure recovery cannot fix this.

True head crashes scratch platters and are unrecoverable

This is one reason why it’s very important to be trained and have a great understanding of the internal components of a hard drive when opening the case.

This is another reason why performing head swaps on a damaged drive is a very expensive, difficult, and tedious process to be performed by only experts.

One wrong move, one small scratch on the platter, or what is also known as a ting can render the data on the drive unrecoverable no matter what equipment, experience, or amount of money one might have.

The data recovery company told me my platters were scratched, now what?

If you have sent your drive to a data recovery company and they told you that it is unrecoverable due to scratches on the platter unfortunately may be out of luck.

This is especially true if the company is a reputable certified company, well known for their success in previous recoveries, with good reviews.

The only way a company will know the platters are scratched or there is a catastrophic a crash is if they have opened the case of the hard drive itself. This should only be done in a certified clean room environment by a professional. IT and computer repair companies do not have this type of environment or expertise.