The internet holds many wonders and much information. Some of it is useful and informative, and some of it can be misleading. One such grey area is that of hard drive recovery. Do a quick search on any video hosting site, and you will find plenty of “experts” telling you how you can recover your data at home. I would suggest that you exercise extreme caution, and maybe do some extensive research on how mechanical hard drives work, before you take a screwdriver to your failed drive.
With this in mind, let’s think about dust. A hard drive is a sealed unit, specifically designed to keep any debris from entering while it is in use (or at any other time for that matter). In addition, the read-write heads inside that drive are designed to float over the platter surface while it’s spinning, usually at speeds anywhere between 5400 and 15000rpm. Now, imagine that you allow some dust to enter the unit while it’s spinning at full speed. As soon as those small particles nestle in between the heads and the platter surface, the media will be physically damaged (possibly beyond repair). This would be akin to a razor blade making a scratch in a glass surface.
This is one of many problems that can be caused when hard drives are opened outside of a Clean Room environment. The ability to successfully recover your data decreases the more you tamper with the hard drive components.
This is not only true of the mechanical parts, but also the electronics. Many people are unaware that some electronics present on the hard drive PCB (printed circuit board) are unique to certain drives. Hence, if your hard drive has an electronics problem, simply replacing the PCB will not fix the issue, and may even cause more damage. Similarly, sending a hard drive in for recovery with the wrong PCB will also make data recovery difficult, if not impossible.
In a nutshell, it is safer to send your drive to a reputable data recovery company than attempting to fix the drive yourself. Clean Room work is complex and challenging, but we have a wealth of tools and techniques available to us to ensure that your data has the best possible chance of being recovered.
If you value your data and want the best possible chance of getting it back, then don’t DIY, it’s as simple as that.