Internal hard disk unable to repair?

Hello guys. Recently I dismantled an internal hard disk from an old laptop from mine, 5400RPM 320GB SATA. And so I bought an external hard drive enclosure to make it as an external hard disk. A few days ago, I removed the aluminium cover of the internal drive and I couldn’t manage to connect the drive to my laptop anymore. I think I had damaged the actuator arm some how when I removed the cover. Now when I connect the drive to my laptop, the actuator arm starts clicking for a few times and then it stops. So I went to a few IT shops and ask the shopkeepers and they told me it can’t be repaired. One of them told me once the internal is being exposed to dust the files will be gone. Is the IT guy right? Or I can just simply change a new actuator arm? Or worst, how can I retrieve files from the drive? Thanks in advance.

Hi, if you really need to recover your files you can contact a professional data recovery company. Usually when a hard drive goes faulty there is not a lot a normal user can do.

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Hi. Thanks for the reply, I really appreciate it. Is it expensive to do so? Because I heard somebody said that they charge for every GigaBytes. Or is there any software to recover those files?

Hi yes the tech is correct. To open a hard drive it needs to be in a clean room  any dust or anything that falls onto the platters makes recovery almost impossible. If you decide to send the drive into a professional data recovery company you need to inform them first that you opened the drive as they may just tell you there is no chance to start with, rather than sending them the drive and paying for them to find this out. 

I guess I have to face the truth. All my important files are gone and I hope this would be a lesson for me — do not simply open a hard dive next time ! BTW thanks for the explanation guys!

Take a look at 

There are several videos explaining what happens to bad disc and how they may be recovered. As was said before, a clean environment is required before you open a drive. Just a speck of dust is enough to wreck a drive platter and/or head. But if you have not done any damage you may have just one chance to recover your data. Don’t waste your chances by continuously trying to read data. You are probably doing more damage.


The prior posts and what the IT dude said are all correct. But there is the forensics laboratory, if anyone can retrieve your files, they can.

If you opened the disk cover and exposed the drive internals to normal “everyday air” then you’ve basically contaminated the disk.

Consider this: Imagine cruising down the autoban at 200 klicks, and you hit a bowling ball. Do you think you’ll maintain control? Without damage to the car? Well that’s what’s happening inside your disk, on a microscopic scale. Each speck of dust is a bowling ball, or even a bigger boulder. Each time a bit of dust gets between the head and platter, at those speeds, there’s damage. Bits of the head and chips of the platter surface fly out like debris from a jackhammer. Which in turn causes more opportunity for another crash.

There’s going to be all kinds of damage to the heads and disk surfaces. A sophisticated forensics lab, like OnTrack, for a price, might be able to read areas yet undamaged. But 100% recovery is unlikely.

As far as changing the heads yourself, you need a cleanroom. You cannot do this yourself. You do not have the tools and knowledge. And tools and parts are of the precision required to write your name on the point of a safety pin.

Using software isn’t going to do anything except worsen the situation. Using software would be like putting a professional race driver in the seat of wrecked car. No amount of skill is going to make the car go anywhere.

Stop using the disk and send it  for a pro-level evaluation. With luck there might be something left or just localized damage. But because the disk is now contaminated - be prepared for $1,200 and upwards pricetag for the job.