Laptop hard drives have a much higher failure rate than desktop drives, with an average lifespan around 3 years.  This is mainly due to the inadvertent abuse they suffer as they’re moved around in the course of daily life.

Because Laptop hard drives are physically smaller and lighter than desktop hard drives, the manufacturing tolerances are usually much tighter. A standard Desktop hard drive is 3.5″, while a Laptop hard drive is only 2.5″ and generally much thinner. Since they’re moved around regularly, they’re therefore prone to even more damage than a robust desktop hard drive that is usually left in place for the most part.

As with all other devices, one of our engineers completes a full evaluation of each laptop hard drive in order to diagnose the issue and provide you with a quote for recovery. Here are some of the issues we generally face with Laptop hard drives:

Burnt-Out Printed Circuit Board (PCB):

We see a lot of PCB problems with Laptops that have had liquid spilled on the keyboard which inevitably causes a short circuit and a burnt-out PCB. When replacing the board, we need to find an exact match of the board and the drive model, we then re-write the ROM firmware onto the new board to make the drive functional so that we can extract the data.

Head and Platter Damage:

When a laptop is turned on, the platters are spinning and the read-write heads are traveling on a bearing of air just 3 millionths of an inch above the platter surface, which is about 1/3 the diameter of a smoke particle. For that reason, it’s easy to see how a platter or read-write head can be damaged if the laptop is knocked, dropped or moved suddenly, causing the heads to impact the platters.

Debris in the Drive:

Most people think that a hard drive is hermetically sealed (airtight), but this is not the case. In order for the read-write heads to ‘float’ on their air bearing, there needs to be airflow in the drive. There are filters in the drive that clean the air as it moves, but as a drive ages, small fragments of the magnetic surface fly off the platter surface (normal wear and tear). For the most part these fragments are caught in the filters, but some do sit in the bottom of the drive. When a laptop is moved suddenly or dropped, some of these particles may move back onto the platter and damage either the platter surface or the read-write heads.

Apple Mac Laptops:

The principles of recovering data from a Mac are exactly the same as a Windows based recovery. In fact, many Apple stores refer clients to Desert Data Recovery for data recovery projects.

Here are some interesting facts about laptop hard drives:

  • Average Life – 3 years.
  • Drives Fail Due To:
    • Overheating – Vents Blocked by Clothing or Fabrics
    • Impact (being dropped or knocked)
    • Electrical Failure / Surge
    • Poor Manufacturing
    • Bad Parts in the Manufacturing Process
    • Corruption
    • Viruses
    • Fire / Water Damage
    • Operator Error

Steps to take in the event that you think laptop data loss may occur:

  • Turn off your computer immediately – continued operation can cause greater damage
  • Do not restart the computer;  any extra actions can cause more damage
  • Do not install or re-install any software or hardware
  • Do not shake, disassemble, or attempt to clean a damaged drive
  • Do not use a file recovery or other data recovery software to repair damaged drive
  • Do not try to clean or dry a wet or muddy drive
  • Do not try to operate a visibly damaged device. Get professional help!