Data recovery from HDD after fire

A fire happened in the big pharmaceutical company. The system board unit used as a file server was in fire. The information in its HDD is of top importance.

The burned-out system board unit
The burned-out system board unit

The remnants of the system board unit looked ruefully. The fire was extinguished, and for several days, during inquiry, all the objects were left in their places, so metal parts began to rust. These pictures are not of the best quality as I did not take a camera with me so I used my Palm Treo 680 communicator to take pictures. It is a good device but, alas, it is not a reflex camera.

One more angle shot
One more angle shot

All plastic parts were flowed and charred, textolite was scorched. The storage disc was seriously damaged. All the protective film covering the slot of servo writer pusher bar burned out, so char got into hermetical zone, the shaft of the spindle engine was seizured.

Burnt HDD Seagate
Burnt HDD Seagate

Information recovery from a storage disk after such damage is possible only if the temperature inside the hermetical zone did not exceed the Curie point. Otherwise, irreversible change of magnetic coating occurs, and data is lost forever.

First of all check if plates are intact. A set of platters should be carefully cleaned and then put into hermetical zone of a donor disc. After that plates are centered with the help of special equipment, as at modern recording density appearance of beats at centering mismatch in a fraction of a millimeter is able to upset head positioning on servo marking.

If heads have defined servo marking correctly (in this case, in spite of often positioning breaks, servo marking was readable) you may start further actions and procedures. There is a hope to recover all or, at least, a greater part of lost data.