hard drive data recovery

From: Sam Ismail <dastar_at_ncal.verio.com>
Date: Sat Jul 11 02:31:05 1998

This is off-topic, so I'd like to know if anyone would like to start a
short discussion off the list regarding data recovery on crashed hard

I recently had two hard drives go south on me. One was my 2.5" IDE in my
laptop...scary considering it had all my notes, memos and source code.
The other was a 3.5" IDE on the voicemail system in the office. The
laptop was a physical crash; the voicemail was a soft crash (directory got
over-written somehow).

I took the hard drives to a data recovery shop (Data Recovery Group in San
Leandro for the locals). They have complete clean room and repair
facilities. The data recovery technician, Yongin, opened up the 2.5" HD
in the clean room and found the head had gone bad. He assembled a new
head onto the drive but it wasn't repairable: it was a temporary fix to
get the data off. He then proceeded to extract all the directories I told
him were the most critical. Over all he said he was able to read about
60% of the 1.2GB drive.

The other drive he found had a bad root directory, apparently having been
over-written with random data (I suspect a virus). They basically used
Norton Utilities on that to locate the lost directories and re-link them.
They were able to recover the entire drive contents.

What I wanted to discuss is the possibility of doing home drive repair
without the luxury of a clean room. Is it possible to use some sort of
cheaply available or easily made vacuum chamber with positive airflow and
filtering, or is it absolutely required? Can a drive be opened in room
air and be worked on without introducing dangerous dust particles onto the
platter? Figuring out the data on the drive is the easy part, compared
with actually trying to read the data off the platter, whether the problem
be a failed head or a crashed head.

Why can't they make a hard drive that's crash proof? Even if the
mechanics fail, can't some hardend substance like glass be layed over the
platter so if the head did crash it would only scratch the glass? Then
you would simply open the drive, pull out the platter, replace the glass
shield if necessary, then insert it into a working assembly. The head
calibration would be adjusted to compensate for the extra distance to the

If anyone would like to continue this discussion, please reply to me
privately. Thanks!

BTW, the above drive repair cost $1,490 total. Not only is the job
challenging and fun, but highly lucrative. Back that data up!

Sam Alternate e-mail: dastar_at_siconic.com
Ever onward.

                 September 26 & 27...Vintage Computer Festival 2
                   See http://www.siconic.com/vcf for details!
                        [Last web page update: 07/05/98]
Received on Sat Jul 11 1998 - 02:31:05 BST

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