I've just disassembled my father's old and broken HDD (Hitachi 500 GB), where he had kind of important information. I was very careful with platters while was taking them out and made sure they stayed untouched.

I would like to know if there are some kind of devices (hardware), so I could extract the data from them? Do the platters contain data on both sides or only one?

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    Be really careful as dust on the platters may already make your task much harder… – Shi Sep 8 '12 at 16:31
  • I have packed them really well! ;) I wish I could buy some device for reading from them! – Ilia Rostovtsev Sep 8 '12 at 16:32
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    Your only real option is to put the platters in another drive of the same model that is still functional. In the state they are in they are VERY vulnerable to damage. – MaQleod Sep 8 '12 at 16:50
  • Well this sounds annoying really! Finding familiar drive would be hard. I bet there are hardware for this? What could be more simple these days? :) – Ilia Rostovtsev Sep 8 '12 at 16:52
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    There's a reason the data recovery services charge a lot. It's NOT simple! – Loren Pechtel Sep 8 '12 at 18:00

So you took the platters out of the drive, physically opened up the drive and removed the platters?

If you open up a harddrive you have to be in a dust free environment. If you aren't you ensure that it cannot be read again as finest dust particles will settle on the surface nearly instantly and will only damage the surface further when you try to read from them.

A malfunctioning dust filter is one of the causes a harddrive would fail:

If the filter fails to capture a dust particle, the particle can land on the platter, causing a head crash if the head happens to sweep over it. After a hard-drive crash, each particle from the damaged platter and head media can cause a bad sector. These, in addition to platter damage, will quickly render a hard drive useless

There are companies that specialize in the recovery of data from failed harddrives, they all use cleanrooms, this is no living room job to do.

  • Thank you for your answer. It's hard to believe that they would destroy during one hour (while being copied) in my apartment, not dustless of course but very clean. If there was a device it would take only 20 minutes to copy data and I think thy wouldn't destroy for this time. I can't believe that there is no 100 dollars device for making such primitive task? – Ilia Rostovtsev Sep 8 '12 at 17:41
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    Why do you think that this is a primitive task? The data on a harddrive is stored so dense that it is near the physical magnetic limits of the used materials. The heads fly over the platters so close that even particles you would not be able to see, would lead to scratches on the disk, marking the sectors unreadable and probably damage the head as well. – Baarn Sep 8 '12 at 17:46
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    As your apartment is not a dust-free environment (however clean it may be), it is now not possible to recover the data. As soon as you opened up the hard drive, you let in dust. Even a single speck would be enough. You rendered the drive unrecoverable as soon as you cracked the seal. – ChrisInEdmonton Sep 8 '12 at 17:59
  • Maybe it's not that primitive and if you only have screwdriver, for instance, it would make it simply impossible but having special apparatus could do the task quickly. Well that is to sad to hear that I can't recover my data just because I opened the box. So you mean if they are now safely laying packed in, it's already to late and I shouldn't even think of this, right? – Ilia Rostovtsev Sep 8 '12 at 18:34
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    Yes. Once yoo opened the case outside a clean room you threw away the chance to recover the data. If it ever happens again with a new drive then leave the drive intact and pay the ten thousand dollar for a recovery from platters (or near that number. it is expensive. Backups and a new drive are much cheaper). – Hennes Sep 8 '12 at 18:48

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