How do hard drives fail?
Aside from logical problems such as accidentally deleted files or damaged partition information, failures with mechanical/spinning hard drives can be generalized into 4 categories: multiple bad sectors, electrical failure, firmware corruption, and mechanical failure.
Due to normal wear & tear, all hard drives develop defects (or bad sectors) throughout their lives.
Electrical failures typically involve the controller PCB on the back of a hard drive.
Firmware is the internal operating system of a hard drive.
Mechanical failure relates to the malfunction of a drive's internal physical components.
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Level 1 Recovery
Drive is functional but data is not accessible because of corrupt file system, missing partition information, or deletion of data either by accident or for any other reason. Some drives malfunctioning because of developing bad sectors or minor electrical problems also qualify for a Level 1 recovery.
Level 2 Recovery
Drive malfunction is caused by a firmware failure, major electrical problem, or multiple bad sectors requiring extensive imaging time.
Level 3 Recovery
Drive malfunction is caused by an internal mechanical problem and requires disassembly and intervention in a cleanroom environment. Some cases with major firmware damage also fall into this category.
Custom Price Quote
Devices that have been damaged by a previous recovery attempt or require custom-engineered solutions may receive a custom quote higher than Level 3 pricing. An example of this is the pictured drive: the heads have worn down the inner parking ring, resulting in a thick, visible layer of particulate coating most of the platter surface.
Some Level 3 recoveries require donor parts. These parts are used to replace the failed components in the patient drive in order to (temporarily) repair the drive and allow data access. Donor parts must come from a fully-functional drive that is identical to the patient drive, and these drives are an expense to us. This cost is added to the recovery price, but only if the recovery is successful. Donor drives typically cost $75-$125.