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How to Repair External Hard Drive after it was Dropped

Before getting more in depth about how to fix an external hard drive after it was dropped, the first thing to do is STOP trying to power on the drive as this will only cause more damage to the platters making a Professional Data Recovery more challenging if not impossible.

Dropped your External Hard Drive? One of many things could cause it to be inoperable:

– The read/write heads may have got physically damaged and bent. (Attempting to power on a drive with bent read/write heads will cause severe damage to the platters, making the data unrecoverable. Data stored on platters are similar to CD’s. Imagine taking a needle or screw and rubbing it against a CD. That’s exactly what’s happening when you attempt to power on a drive with damaged read/write heads.

Symptoms of this issue: Drive powers on, spins up, but is making clicking sounds. 

– The read/write heads may have got stuck on the platters.“Stiction” is one of the most common issues we encounter. Stiction is where the heads move off of the platters where they are supposed to be parked and crash on top of the platters. When the drive is functioning normally, the platters spin at a very high speed, and the heads hover over them, within nanometer of it, never touching them. When the heads crash on the platters, they don’t allow the platters to spin and thus cause a beeping sound. Multiple attempts to power on a drive with stiction may cause the heads to break off and scrap the platters, making the data unrecoverable.

Symptoms of this issue: Drive powers on to a beeping sound. The platters are not spinning at all. 

– Media damage / damage to the platters / Firmware Corruption.  A very common issue we see with dropped drives is light media damage. The heads bump the platters for a moment, cause a light scratch. When the heads try to read from the platters and aren’t able to, a firmware issue develops. Constantly attempting to power on a drive with media damage may result in a tiny scratch. The scratch can then spread throughout the platter, making the data unrecoverable.

Symptoms of this issue: Drive powers on, doesn’t click or making beeping sounds, but it not recognized at all by the computer. Sometimes the drive will show up and work slow for a little while, but eventually will not show up at all. 

Clean Room Data RecoveryWhat to do when you find yourself in any of these situations? 

Contact us or a reputable Data Recovery Professional in your area. Please do not seek a computer repair shop or IT Professional. Although these types of technicians are very good with computers, hard drives and media are a completely different industry. They require extreme knowledge and experience. Recovering data from drives that have been dropped should only be attempted by professionals and companies who have an onsite Clean Room, in the case that the drive needs to be opened for inspection before proceeding with the recovery.

We don’t mean to scare you with all this information.

The purpose of all this information and warnings is not to scare you. We see more and more cases where customers have tried to follow online “Do It Yourself Data Recovery Guides” which have left their drives unrecoverable even by the best Data Recovery Engineers in the world. In the given case the platters are damaged, there is no going back.

Nonetheless, we ask that you please not attempt Repairing an External Hard Drive after it was Dropped. At Five Star Data Recovery, we are always available to answer any questions, provide advice or suggestions.

external hard drive dropped


Working with Five Star Data Recovery was a great experience. It’s never a fun day when you find that your data is in trouble…but the team at Five Star was very quick to answer questions on a weekend after hrs and then promptly got to work as soon as we dropped off our corrupt CFast card. The whole process was very clear, they communicated often and in detail and in the end were 100% successful in recovering everything we needed. Our footage was saved and it was top notch service along the way. The final invoice was exactly what he quoted at the beginning with no surprise costs. I 100% recommend Vahan and his team.
Justin C.
I am so thankful that they have 24/7 support on the phone. I just recently called after my hard drive fell onto carpet. They had all the answers and knew exactly what they were talking about. I would recommend them for hard drive support!
Taylor L.
Can’t say enough good things about Five Star Data Recovery. Took my drive in and had the data back within 24 hours. I was even able to recover the “damaged” files, so pretty much a total recovery of 20 years worth of data. Yeah, yeah, I should have backed up my drive, but I’m just glad that Vahan and the Five Star team were able to get me back in business!
Kip K.

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