I have recently bought a 2 TB Seagate external drive. Sadly, it was the kind that also needs a power cord, not just a USB cable and my foot got tangled in those cables and the drive flew off the desk and crash landed on the floor.

Now it seems to power on, because it does make a noise like it's turning on, but Windows and the BIOS won't detect it anymore, plus it has a kind of a looping click, and it seems to "struggle". Any chance I can get anything back from it?

I am considering taking it to a data recovery service but since it likely has mechanical damage, it would cost me between 160 and 640 Euros plus 24% VAT where I live. Any suggestions? Should I take it back for warranty or should I go with it directly to a recovery firm? It's pretty thorny, since I don't really know how bad it is. If it's real bad, taking it to the retailer might make it unrecoverable, because it is usually advisable to use it as little as possible after messing it up, and they won't care much about my data. If I take it to a recovery firm directly, they may open it for evaluation which might invalidate the warranty, plus, if the hard drive isn't completely fubared and taking it back for warranty would fix it, I would pay through the nose for a recovery that wasn't needed. Any suggestions?

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    A 'clicking noise' is usually a bad sign. If you have any backups then get a new drive and restore from that. If not, decide how much your data is worth it. More than 640+VAT, then let a recovery firm take a shot at it. (Warranty does not apply here. That does not cover dropping drives to the floor. Plus, as you said, they do not care about the data). – Hennes Mar 17 '13 at 17:07
  • I'm afraid it's toast. A data recovery outfit MIGHT be able to recover some of your data, but even that's a stretch. (And I don't see how you can legitimately make a warranty claim on it unless the manufacturer provided an "all hazards" warranty.) – Daniel R Hicks Mar 17 '13 at 17:58
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    Just restore from your regular backups. They're free. – ta.speot.is Mar 17 '13 at 20:42
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    You could try taking it out of the external drive case and fitting it in a PC or another external case. It's a long shot but I've had more external drives fail through problems with the "external case electronics" than through actual disk failures. In your case it's probably the disk but you never know. – BJ292 Mar 17 '13 at 22:39

There are some last ditch efforts you can try (although they are unlikely to highly unlikely to work and most likely to make things worse - I'm thinking freezing the drive or heating it up. Also dropping it and banging it strategically)

I would not take the drive back for warranty - they will almost certainly not try and recover your data - and anyway its not a warranty issue if you dropped your drive - and taking it back for replacement under warranty is a stink thing to do even if you "can get away with it".

To be honest, even $640 EU + VAT sounds cheap for a data recovery firm - but if they have clean-room facilities then that is probably the safest way to go if your data is worth it to you.

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  • You should be a little more direct. Any warranty on this drive will NOT cover data recovery under any circumstances, and would only cover manufacturing defects. This damage is not a defect, so nothing he described would be covered under warranty. Also, if you were to examine the label on the drive itself, it will most certainly have a warning regarding subjecting the drive to physical shock of ANY kind. There may be spotty empirical evidence supporting the hammer repair technique, but no solid proof that it actually is a solution. – Bon Gart Mar 17 '13 at 20:56

A good lesson in why cable management is an integral part of hardening against system failure. For instance, the UPS doesn't do its job if one of your workers accidentally pulls the power cord out of the back of the server (had that happen - bad!).

As to this drive, you've toasted it and a recovery service is indicated if you have irreplaceable data on the drive (income related). Otherwise, you've paid your dues, go buy a new drive and learn the lesson that gravity shock and running drives don't mix.

It has no warranty; customer abuse voided it.

Bare drive acceleration factors (G-force) when dropped a set distance to a certain surface. It doesn't take much to damage an unprotected drive.

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    "gravity shock and running drives doesn't mix" -- Actually even powered-off HDDs should be handled carefully (esp bare drives). Just because "someone dropped a drive and it still worked" does not mean that any/every drop/shock is harmless to every drive. – sawdust Mar 17 '13 at 22:40
  • Lifting an aircraft gyro 3/4" and letting it drop onto a hard surface generates 20g worth of force when it hits. That is enough to damage the bearings. A Seagate Barracuda 2T drive per specs can take 80g for a duration 2ms during operation and 300g for a duration of 2ms while powered down. Dropping the drive 1 meter onto a concrete floor will generate about 100g worth of shock. Head Crash plus weird random writes if it was running! – Fiasco Labs Mar 17 '13 at 23:49
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    (I gave you an upvote, and was trying to expand on your answer, not disagree.) The descriptions of shock & vibration specs and tests I have read in HDD technical documents are typically "drive will be subject to X and continue to operate." Every drive sampled for these tests have to pass, but that does not mean that every drive manufactured will pass these specs. (I'm not even sure if these tests are certified by an independent party.) Nor do these specs claim that subsequent shock will not damage the drive. IOW the next bump may be the "straw that brakes the camel's back." – sawdust Mar 18 '13 at 0:19
  • Basically, dropping drives while running or powered down is just a really bad idea. <grin> – Fiasco Labs Mar 18 '13 at 0:23
  • Agreed! Oops, spelling error: "brakes" should be "breaks". – sawdust Mar 18 '13 at 0:27

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