Dropped External Hard Drive

External Hard Drive

Losing precious data hurts, especially if a dropped external hard drive contains data that is not backed up. Most dropped external hard drives I receive from customers contain data that is not stored anywhere else. I can help you recover your business documents, music collection, Word files, Excel Spreadsheets, and family photos.

Portable hard drives are more frequently dropped. Many points of failure are possible when a hard drive is dropped. Sensitive components within the hard drive tend not to play well with strong impacts. Dropping a drive that is spun up (running) and impacts that occur on a hard surface spell trouble.

I dropped my external hard drive, now what?

Some drives fail instantly others don’t actually fail right away. Failure can be immediate or days, weeks and in rare cases even a month later once a hard drive does fail, it takes all of your data with it!

If you are in need of dropped hard drive recovery services, I am an engineer who can help. A dropped hard drive needs care and attention, and the majority of the time replacement parts. A diagnostic is the first step and allows a professional to open your drive to confirm its status. If you hear a clicking or other noises, the internal components have been damaged by the force of the impact.

Professional data recovery services are now available.


What makes a dropped external hard drive unreadable?

The following common problem occurs when a drive is dropped:

  • The actuator arm has come off the parking ramp and hit the platters
  • The read/write heads are damaged
  • The read/write heads have hit the platter and now are stuck
  • The actuator arm is misaligned
  • The spindle has been damaged
  • Firmware, bad sectors, or issues have made the drive unreadable

How can firmware kill a dropped hard drive?

Hard drives store their firmware on the hard disk platters where your data is stored. One of a firmware’s many tasks catalogs bad sectors. Seagate for example keep an allocation table in the drive firmware. If the read/write heads encounter a bad sector, they go and record that sector in the firmware. For a user this process is seamless as long as the drive can read and write to the table, the read/write heads can safely ignore any bad sectors.

Bad sectors happen as part of wear and tear. Eventually, parts break down from age and use. This results in bad sectors, or portions of the drive becoming unreadable. Dropping a drive, damage to the platters, impact to the read/write heads can also cause bad sectors. When read/write heads start failing, they can start reading “bad” sectors.

What needs to occur to get data from a dropped drive?

After a diagnostic had been complete and parts sourced and the heads have been replaced, or the act of unsticking the heads had been performed the drive needs to be stabilized. It’s necessary to use professional equipment afterward to stabilize the hard drive. Often special functions need to be disabled in the firmware that will cause instability. Then, using expensive systems the drive is imaged on a platform that is designed to handle bad sectors. Finally, the customer’s data is placed on return media.

What drives do you support?

I support almost every internal and external hard drive. Some of the common models I get that are dropped external hard drives are:

  • Seagate Expansion
  • Seagate Backup Plus Slim
  • Seagate FreeAgent
  • Western Digital My Passport Portable
  • WD Elements Portable
  • Toshiba Canvio Advanced Portable
  • Toshiba Canvio Basics
  • Samsung Portable
  • LaCie Rugged
  • LaCie Porsche Design Mobile Hard Drive