Case studies include information about actual recoveries
completed within our lab. You may find similar symptoms to a problem
you are having with your drive. Here are a couple of recent cases:
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Hard Disk Platters
platters of a hard drive actually hold your data. The image on the left
illustrates what a platter looks like after it has been scored by a head
The magnetic surface of each platter is divided into magnetic regions
less than a micrometer in size. Each of these regions makes up a single
binary unit of information. A binary region on a hard drive platter (as
of 2006) is about 200-250 nanometers wide (within the radial direction
of the platter) and extends about 25-30 nanometers in the down-track direction.
This comes to about 100 billion bits (100 gigabits) per square inch of
hard drive platter area. The materials which make up the magnetic layer
are usually a cobalt-based alloy. Today, each of these magnetic regions
within the hard drive is composed of a few hundred magnetic grains. It
is these magnetic grains which become magnetized when data is written
to the drive. It is possible that in the future, drive manufacturers may
use different systems to create the magnetic regions.
The actual platter is most often made of aluminium or glass substrate.
After the platter is machined, it is then coated using a vacuum deposition
process called magnetron sputtering. Vacuum deposition is a wonder all
on it's own, as this process deposits material, atom by atom or molecule
by molecule onto a solid surface. The coating itself is comprised of mostly
non-magnetic metallic alloys which is very complex in structure. There
is also a protective coating that is carbon based and is applied in the
same manner. Finally, a thin lubricant layer, approximately one nanometer
is applied by dipping the platter into a solution. The platter is then
allowed to cure and receives a final buff to remove any defects in the
surface. A special sensor examines the platter surface for any remaining
Platter surfaces have a mirror finish. Any contamination can render the
contaminated area of the platter unreadable. The surface of the platter
is especially succeptible to finger prints with even the slightest touch.
That is why careful handling of a hard drive is critical during the recovery
process, and all recovery work must be completed in a clean room environment.
When a hard drive suffers a physical
failure, such as a head
crash, the platters can sometimes become scored due to the head coming
in contact with the platter and grinding the surface. In these cases it
is rare that data will be recoverable. For more information, please call
Scored platter due to a hard
drive crash. Notice the debris
radiating around the cut in the platter. This debris often
causes even more damage to the platter.
A closer look.
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