Recently, we got a call from a distressed office manager of a dental practice in South Dublin. Three days previous, their main office computer crashed. They called their I.T. support company who performed a diagnostic on the drive. Its status came up as “failed”. A new hard drive was then installed in the system along with a fresh installation of Windows 7. The backup device, a USB external hard drive was then connected. There was a file backup present but to their shock and dismay it was nearly 4 months out-of-date. The office manager got that sinking feeling that data loss induces in people. Their I.T. support company then resorted to the failed Seagate drive and tried to recover data off that but to no avail. The drive – a Seagate Barracuda 7200.12 500GB just kept on clicking. No data at all was showing up.
We performed our own diagnostic on the drive. Sure enough, two of the drive heads had failed. A drive head is the tiny component at the tip of the drive’s actuator arm that actually reads and writes the data to the platters. We entered the drive part number into our database. Luckily, we had the exact match head disk assembly already in stock.
The drive was then taken into our class-100 clean room. The old head disk assembly was carefully removed. The donor part was then inserted. This is an intricate job taking years of experience and a very steady hand. The head disk assembly swap was a success but our job was not over yet. The drive was powered up and it spun into life with a nice healthy sounding spin. The data was still not showing up though. This is normal with some models of the Barracuda after a HDA swap. We then attached the drive to our recovery equipment where we edited the SAP (Servo Adaptive Parameters) and CAP (controller adaptive parameters) information. Editing these two parameters usually results in a better synching between the heads and the platters. The drive was powered up again and this time all their data appeared. To confirm a read/write integrity scan was performed which it passed. As an extra precaution, the drive was then imaged. The final stage of this recovery process was the extraction of all their Sage accounts, dental records, JPEG files of X-rays, Word and Excel files onto an external drive.
The dental practice is now using local backup and online backup. The backups are checked by staff every week. It’s not just teeth that need check-ups.