The call came in for this ST1000LM010 with the description of a clicking hard drive that would not show up on the computer. The client had already received a quote from a larger data recovery company of $1500-2400 for a cleanroom data recovery, in particular, a head swap. So he was especially pleased to get our affordable cleanroom data recovery quote of $699. I let him know that clicking on one of these drives doesn’t always mean bad heads, but if it did indeed need a head swap then our lab recovery rate of $699 would apply.
Cleanroom Data Recovery
This Seagate ST1000LM010 FreePlay drive is part of the Sentosa family of hard drives. I have a lot of experience recovering these hard drives. I see them with firmware issues as well as internal issues like bad heads. Sometimes you will get behavior that sounds like internal parts issues, and it will end up being an odd firmware problem.
I received the hard drive and started with a physical inspection. Because the drive was reported as clicking I went ahead and opened the drive up in my cleanroom and checked for head damage or platter damage. No physical damage was present so I reassembled the drive for testing. If I see any signs of physical damage to the heads under the microscope, or any media damage at all, I will not boot the drive up until the head stack has been swapped out with a known good one.
The drive clicked just as the customer described, then got RDY on the PC-3000. I troubleshot the issue and found that the problem was multiple bad heads inside the drive. The firmware wasn’t the problem with this ST1000LM010, it needed a head swap!
The client approved the head swap procedure after I let him know I wouldn’t be able to get data without swapping the head stack. He was pleased the quote for Lab recovery was so much less than the other quotes he had received for the same service, so I checked through my large donor stock and found I had a compatible drive.
ST1500LM003 head stack with an ST1000LM010 drive
This particular hard drive has a few configurations with differentiations in the capacity. The larger capacity drive has a bottom head for the bottom of the last platter. The particular drive I am working on has no bottom head installed as it doesn’t utilize the bottom of the platter during use. The donor part I had in stock was an ST1500LM003, which has a 1.5TB capacity instead of a 1TB capacity. That extra .5TB comes from the extra head on the bottom platter. But the head stack is compatible.
Imaging after head swap
Once the head swap was complete, all heads were testing well and I was able to start the imaging process. Even though the drive was testing good I still treat every drive like it is super fragile and in a state of failure. This means running very gentle first passes on the imager to verify any problematic areas and getting back as much data in the process before continuing on to more stressful imaging passes.
The imagers I use allow me to set a lot of parameters for the imaging process, it is very different than just connecting it to a PC and running data recovery software. I am able to set how long the drive tries to read a sector before timing out, how many sectors the drive skips after hitting a certain number of bad sectors, and lots more.
I have received drives over the years that were unrecoverable by other shops, and all they needed were advanced settings on the imager set just right in order to get 99.9999% of the sectors back. Knowing your imager and getting a feel for each drive you are recovering is a very important skill to build if you are a recovery technician.
Recovering the important data
This Seagate ST1000LM010 with the ST1500LM003 head stack had no trouble spots at all! The first pass got back all the sectors on the drive without needing to skip over anything. This is the best possible scenario. Now that the clone was complete I was able to move on to the data recovery software part of the recovery.
I ran a quick scan and a deep scan to verify if there were any differences found, but everything was intact and no corruption was present. All the important photos and music that the customer was after were fully recovered and retained all data including file names and folder structure. I moved the recovered data over to the new hard drive the customer had provided, and let them know the recovery was a success! They were very pleased to have gotten their data recovered for $1000’s less than the quotes they had received.
Affordable Cleanroom Recovery Services
If you need a Seagate hard drive recovered that is clicking, or any other hard drive data recovery service, I offer data recovery nationwide through my mail-in recovery service. I get drives from all over the country for data recovery, and I would be happy to help you get your important data back. Just fill out my recovery form to start the process, or contact me with any questions you have!
Drive info: Seagate FreePlay 1000GB, ST1000LM010, PN: 9YH146-550, FW: CC9F, Product of China, Site: WU, Date: 12201