Heads wash for data recovery

Today I want to tell you about the benefits of a data recovery tool such as a microscope necessary for data recovery engineer.

Strange to say, but many engineers, who have long been engaged in data recovery, do not have a microscope available, and even has no idea of why it is needed at all. What to say about those who rushes to carry out the work in the clean room?

Today they brought a hard drive Seagate Barracuda 7200.9 ST3200827AS for data recovery . Per the client, he shut down the computer as usual, and in the morning could not start Windows. This drive prompted me to write this post.

By connecting the HDD to the diagnostic terminal I saw:

4096k x 16 SDRAM
F> / load app code /
Buzz – Head Mask FFFF – Switch to full int.

Spin Ready
F> / start app code /
3.AAE 12-09-05 11:29 AAE, 35_S_5_S1,3A
T> / load adaptives /
$ Head Mask FFFF – Head Mask FFFF – Head Mask FFFF –

Thus, the problem is due one of non-system heads. Opening pressurized zone in the clean room shown – on the visible areas of the plates there is no damage, the filter is clean. It would seem, take the disc-donor and swap the heads. So many engineers do that. And then much wonder why the head are replaced, but the drive still does not work?

This is because these people do not use a miracle device – a microscope. For me personally, it has long been used a rule: “Took off the heads from the client disk, look at them closely. And what if you learn something new?”

I removed the client’s head assembly, vigilantly peered through the eyepieces. And here it is, the reason for failure – dusty heads.

Thus, the trained eye immediately reveals: the heads are strewn with metal dust. Captain Obvious right there: metal dust indicates emerging scoring on one of the plates, hidden from visual inspection. In this case, the 2nd head. What happens if you put a donor heads on the failed drive? That’s right – they would grab a portion of the dust and additionally scratch the platter over the original scratch.

As a result, we got such discs for data recovery.

What to do in this case? Remove the heads stack to evaluate the location of the scratch and to decide on further action.

For many it is a surprise, but in the case described it is possible to use the original heads, wash the composition of the dust and dirt off of them with specials chemicals. How to do that? You still will not believe it! In close cooperation with the good old microscope.

Surprisingly, even the highly respected experts in closed forums advise in all seriousness something like “take a piece of paper, drip alcohol, stick it between the heads and pull up until the paper goes to end”. To me personally it is obvious that this method is permissible to use by orangutan, which is not yet fully turned into human being. But not for data-recovery specialist.

For washing heads you need such a useful tool as a brush of natural cloth, and  it is necessary to control this process with the microscope. And just make sure if it is already clean or not yet, and where you need to go further with a brush or add more liquid or it is already possible to dry the heads with compressed air.