Disaster Strikes: How Is Data Recovered From A Dead Hard Drive?
I’ve had a four-drive NAS in my closet for years. One day, one of the four drives failed. Because I had the drives configured in RAID 5, the array continued to work just fine. I mistook the somewhat slower performance of degraded mode to be a consequence of approaching the array’s physical capacity. The enclosure never alerted me to a problem. So when a second drive failed, all of my data (family photos and videos, music collection, two decades of work, everything) was gone. Poof. Instantly. And, because of circumstances too embarrassing for a technology professional to relate, that NAS contained my only copy of all of that data. You could hear my screams from blocks away.
Misery loves company and, of course, I am far from alone. Back in 2011, Tom’s Hardware showed that hard drive failure within three years can range up to 20%. SSD rates are better, but go ask Linus Torvalds if that was any consolation for his dead workstation.
In a blind panic, I called the biggest name in disk disaster recovery, Seagate Recovery Services, and in the process stumbled into a fascinating photo story. What follows is not meant to be a commercial for Seagate. The company did not pay for this coverage. The Tom’s Hardware editors and I simply recognized that a lot of people need recovery help, and a glimpse behind the curtain at how those operations get done might be enlightening for consumers and business users alike.