Data Recovery Case Study On 2TB Seagate Hard Drive


In this case study, we’ll walk you through a detailed account of a successful data recovery process. Our client, Sarah, a professional photographer, reached out to us in a state of panic. Her 2TB Seagate hard drive had suddenly stopped working, and she had stored years of irreplaceable work on it without a backup. This experience highlighted for her the critical importance of regular data backups.

The Initial Complaint

Sarah’s issue was clear and concerning: her 2TB Seagate hard drive was no longer recognized by her computer. She had attempted to connect it to multiple computers and used different USB cables, but nothing worked. Additionally, the drive was making unusual clicking noises, which is often a sign of mechanical failure.

Preliminary Assessment

Our first step was to conduct a preliminary assessment to diagnose the issue. Upon receiving Sarah’s drive, we immediately took it into our cleanroom environment. Cleanrooms are essential for this kind of work, as they prevent any dust or contaminants from causing further damage. Given Sarah’s description of the clicking sounds, we avoided applying power to the drive initially to prevent further damage.

Once the drive was opened in the cleanroom, we confirmed that the read-write head had failed and was stuck on the platter, causing light scoring on its surface. We examined the lower platters using contrasting light and a scope from the edge, and found no visible damage or scoring. The filter was also clean, indicating that there was no debris within the drive, which is often a sign of severe scoring.

Recovery Process

Step 1: Replacing the Read-Write Head

The first step in the recovery process was to replace the faulty read-write head. We sourced a compatible donor drive with identical specifications, ensuring it had the same head mapping to function correctly with Sarah’s drive.

  1. Donor Drive Selection: We carefully selected a donor drive matching the model number, firmware version, site code, and manufacturing date code as closely as possible.
  2. Head Replacement: In the cleanroom, we replaced the damaged read-write head with the one from the donor drive. This process requires precision and expertise, as even a minor mistake could render the data unrecoverable.
  3. Reassembly: After successfully replacing the head, we reassembled the drive, ensuring all components were securely in place.
Step 2: Imaging the Drive with Deepspar

With the new read-write head in place, our next goal was to create a full image of the drive. For this, we used the Deepspar Disk Imager, a highly specialized tool designed for recovering data from damaged drives. Although we could have also used PC3000 for this process, Deepspar tends to yield slightly better results when the drive has issues after a head replacement.

  1. Drive Connection: We connected the drive to the Deepspar Disk Imager. This tool allows for controlled and precise imaging, even when dealing with problematic sectors.
  2. Initial Scanning: The Deepspar tool performed an initial scan to identify readable and unreadable sectors. Given the previous head failure, we anticipated some damaged sectors, particularly where the scoring on the platter was observed.
  3. Sector-by-Sector Imaging: The imaging process was conducted on a sector-by-sector basis. Deepspar’s advanced error-handling algorithms allowed us to skip over severely damaged sectors initially and return to them later for more focused recovery attempts.
  4. Handling Bad Sectors: For the unreadable sectors, Deepspar adjusted read parameters dynamically, trying different methods to extract as much data as possible without causing further damage. This process was time-consuming but essential for maximizing data recovery. In total, we encountered around 50,000 unreadable sectors within a narrow region of the top platter. The other three platter surfaces were fully imaged.
Step 3: Data Recovery with PC-3000

Once we had a comprehensive image of the drive, the next step was to reconstruct the file system and recover the data using PC-3000, another industry-leading data recovery tool.

  1. Image Analysis: We loaded the drive image into PC-3000 for a thorough analysis. The tool mapped out the drive’s logical structure, identifying partitions, file systems, and metadata.
  2. File System Reconstruction: Using PC-3000’s powerful algorithms, we reconstructed the file system. This process involved piecing together fragmented data, repairing corrupted files, and restoring the directory structure to its original state.
  3. Dealing with Corruption: Some files were partially corrupted due to the scoring on the platter. For these, we used PC-3000’s advanced repair tools to recover usable parts of the files. In cases where full recovery wasn’t possible, we provided Sarah with detailed reports on the affected files.
Step 4: Data Verification and Transfer

With the data reconstructed, our final step was to verify the integrity of the recovered files and transfer them to a new, stable storage medium.

  1. Integrity Check: We performed a comprehensive check to ensure the integrity of the recovered files. This included opening files to verify their contents and checking for any signs of corruption or incomplete recovery.
  2. Data Transfer: We transferred the verified data to a new, high-quality external hard drive. Additionally, we recommended that Sarah adopt a robust backup strategy, including regular backups to both local and cloud storage solutions, to prevent future data loss.
  3. Client Notification: Once the data transfer was complete, we informed Sarah that her data had been successfully recovered. She was relieved and grateful, as the recovered data included critical client work and irreplaceable personal photos.


This case study highlights the complexity and precision involved in professional data recovery. From diagnosing the initial issue to meticulously replacing the read-write head, creating a drive image with Deepspar, reconstructing the file system with PC-3000, and verifying the recovered data, each step required specialized tools and expertise.

Sarah’s case underscores the importance of seeking professional help for data recovery. DIY attempts could have resulted in permanent data loss, especially given the mechanical failure and platter damage. Our successful recovery not only saved her valuable data but also provided her with insights into the importance of regular backups and proper hard drive maintenance.

By sharing detailed case studies like this, we aim to educate and inform users about the intricacies of data recovery and the critical role of professional services in safeguarding their digital assets.