Hard drives with physical damage including most clicking, beeping, or drives that have been dropped almost always require the most advanced stage of data recovery. They must be repaired in a clean room environment to ensure that no airborne contaminants come into contact with the platters once opened. “Donor” drives must be used that much up with the damaged drive for compatible parts. Sometimes the “donor” drives are hard to find due to the age and model of the “patient” drive. This is where skill and experience are vital to the success of the recovery.
You can think of a level 3 recovery as performing surgery on your hard drive!
A very common issue with Seagate drives that are dropped or have undergone excessive heat is that the spindle will seize up. In cases like this, the platters must be removed holding alignment and placed into a donor chasis. The delicate head assembly must be separated with “head combs” and removed, the powerful magnet must be taken out ever so carefully. Special tools are used to remove the platters while keeping perfect alignment. Other obstacles could stand in the way like multiple platters, spacers, ramps, and other internal parts. All this while no dust or particles can fall onto the platters.
When removing the head assembly the tiny magnetic heads (heads read the data magnetically) at the end of the arms cannot touch each other. They must be separated before being removed from their parked position on the platters or the ramp.
Once the repair has been completed the second phase of the recovery process begins. Special machines like the PC-3000 are used to build an MFT and target user data. This is required because even though the drive was repaired bad sectors and problem areas on the platters will become a problem unless professional tools are used to back up and repair the service area, modules, system files, translator, etcetera.