Almost every month someone in Canada sends a hard drive that has been involved in a house fire. They often resemble burnt bricks like the picture below of a drive we recently received from a client in London, Ontario. None of our techs were in a hurry to get their hands dirty, but as terrible as these situations look, there is often an easy recovery lurking just under the mess!
Plastic melts easily and this external hard drive is in-cased in plastic like a pair of jeans on a teenager in the 80’s.
But with a little invasive surgery we are able to free the hard drive from its prison.
But will the prisoner be able to talk?
As we have discussed various times in this blog, it is the condition of the disks that will ultimately decide if we can make this hard drive talk again. So let’s open the bonnet and have a peak under the hood …
WOW! It looks pristine. Notice the lack of any contamination due to the fire or the liquids used to douse it. We proceeded to perform a full recovery on this case by replacing only the PCB
Below is another fire victim from a client in Montreal, Quebec which was not in such great shape when we opened the lid. In fact, it may not be recoverable … but we’ll never know for sure as the client declined our quote.
As a general rule for data recovery purposes, fire damaged drives are not typically unrecoverable due to the heat and smoke of the fire, BUT more often, it is the excessive use of firefighting liquids that do the damage, especially if they are allowed to dry out. The drying out leaves mineral and other debris deposits on the disks which are tough to overcome.
And here is a look of what happens when someone applies power to a fire damaged hard drive that has had the sealed assembly breached. You can see the deep ring on the inside of the disk where the heads are. This disk drive will NOT be recoverable.
So if you have a sad looking case of melted data don’t give up hope, data recovery may be as easy as a PCB replacement.