There are many instances when a hard drive fails, and the data recovery service must make repairs before the data can be recovered. One of these instances is when there is corrupt or damaged firmware.
Firmware on a hard drive is software that is actually written to the platters, and is responsible for many major functions of the hard drive including accessing the data, as well as reading and writing to the drive.
Point blank, if the firmware is damaged enough even the most experienced hard drive repair company will not recover your data. If certain parts of the firmware are damaged it can greatly reduce the functionality of the hard drive and allow only partial access to the data resulting in a partial recovery.
Firmware is written to a place on the platters called the system area, or sometimes called the service area. Firmware is made up of a group of modules that contain data that are responsible for the certain functions of the hard drive.
Some of the modules are also responsible and relied upon to repair other modules when they are damaged or corrupted.
Essentially you won’t be able to know if the firmware on your hard drive is corrupted or damaged. there are some telltale signs that don’t automatically indicated but can likely mean that your hard drive has a firmware problem:
Western Digital and Seagate hard drives are notorious for having firmware problems.
Many times a clicking drive is mistakenly diagnosed as having bad heads, when in fact it is due to damaged modules in the service area.
Sometimes these can be repaired, however when in fact there are failing or failed heads involved in the drive is continually run to try to access the data, it can make the damage to the service area un-repairable.
The service area is the most vulnerable place on the drive because it is the first place where read/write heads go before they began to read or write data to the hard drive.
The reason why this is so important is because once this area is damaged, in many cases, either the modules cannot be repaired and access to the data will be prevented for good. This is usually caused by contact from the read/write heads onto the surface of the platters in the area where the service area is located.
It is very hard to determine when this happens by just looking at the drive because usually the service area is written on the bottom platter, where had zero ahead one are located. It’s impossible to see the surface of these platters because they are usually on the bottom of the platter stack when there are multiple platters in a hard drive.
Unfortunately it requires highly advanced, and very expensive, specialized data recovery equipment to be a will to determine if there is damage to the service area or the firmware of a hard drive.
Not only does it require special equipment that only data recovery specialist have, but it requires expert knowledge and skill in order to know how to identify and repair the modules that are corrupt.