It is a very safe assumption that if you have a hard disk that is clicking it has failed read/write heads. This most commonly occurs when the hard disk is dropped or knocked but it can also happen for other reasons. There is a very good reason that you must power of the disk immediately as continually applying power has the potential to cause a devastating head crash, an event which could render the data unrecoverable to even the most skilled data recovery lab.
A mechanical hard disk is constructed of dozens of individual components but they can be grouped into four main areas, platters (including the motor bearing), electronic components, the chassis and the head assembly. In the context of this text the most relevant are the platters and the head assembly. A hard disk stores data on the each platter surface as a magnetic signal whilst the head assembly (containing both read and write elements at the end of the head arm) handles the reading and writing of data as you open programs, save office documents etc. When you launch your internet browser the computer needs to read information from the hard disk to be able to do this, when you make changes that need to be saved such as settings changes, saving images etc data is written to the platters for use next time.
During normal operation a user will not really be aware of the inner workings of a hard disk other than they do their job without the need to think about what they do. When the heads fail in most cases the disk will omit a clicking sound which derives from the disk trying to spin up and initialise but because it cannot do that the heads reset continually because the hard disk does not know what to do with the commands it is receiving from the computer.!! At this point if you haven't done so already pull the plug immediately!
Mechanical hard disks are manufactured with almost immeasurable tolerances, as the platters spin the heads are constructed in a way they they essentially float about the platter surface at a level which is thousandths of a millimetre. When the heads fail of course they do not operate within these tolerances as they should so if you keep applying power (be it over a few minutes or even a few seconds sometimes) a head crash will eventually happen which causes the heads to come into physical contact with the platter(s) surface, when this happens there is a high probability that the data is lost forever.
To put it in the bluntest form the hard disk has had it and never again will it operate normally no matter what you do as an user or even an IT professional. If you aren't experienced in data recovery from mechanically failed hard disks there is little you can do with the exception of contacting a data recovery company for help.
In most cases yes, but there is no way to determine if the data can be recovered without an inspection of the platters in a clean environment called a clean room. A clean room is a sealed environment with multiple levels of air filtration. Contaminants from the air that surrounds us can cause serious damage to the hard disk if they are opening outside of the required space. The only way to know for certain if anything can be done if for us to perform an assessment which is in most cases free of charge*.
Each case is unique and varies in its complexity so giving a fixing price with out us knowing the details of each case is difficult. Mechanical recovery fees start from £399 + vat but can be higher or lower deepening on each case, please contact us for a quote.* assumes no costs incurred to us such as shipping and does not include disks that have been opening prior to arrival with us. Access your free download
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