Anatomy of a Hard Drive

Anatomy of a Hard Drive

Why did my Hard Drive Fail?

Why did my Hard Drive Fail?

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A-Z of Data Recovery

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Data Recovery Guides

Data Recovery Guide

Data Recovery Guide Volumn 2

Drive Rescue (Dublin, Ireland) offer a complete data recovery service for LaCie Rugged external drives. Popular models we recover from include the LaCie Rugged USB-C 2TB, LaCie Rugged Mini 1TB, and LaCie Rugged Mini 2TB.

Why do LaCie Rugged disks fail?

LaCie Rugged disks can fail for a number of reasons. These can be physical, firmware, logical or electronic problems.

Physical - There can be problems with the disk-head assembly, platters, or spindle motor. Physical problems can be the result of wear-and-tear, or can be incurred as a result of shock damage. Typically, but not always, a LaCie Rugged disk that makes a clicking, buzzing, or ticking noise has physical issues. Another issue which can affect LaCie Rugged disks is flaking platters. This occurs when the metallic-oxide coating of the platter surface starts to flake off. This can be serious as metallic-oxide debris can start to accumulate under the read/write heads, causing the disk-heads to overheat. This results in the secondary problem of “thermal asperities”. In the same way that the surface of tarmacked roads can bubble up during high temperatures – your disk platters can start to bubble up after being subject to overheating heads.

Firmware – LaCie Rugged disks typically use Seagate S-ATA hard disks inside (such as Mobile HDD 1TB, Mobile HDD 2TB, Mobile HDD 4TB, or ST1000LM024). This is not surprising seeing that Seagate now own the LaCie brand. Firmware (FW) is low-level software which controls the operation of your disk. It assists with data management, error control (G-list and P-list), bad blocks, and helps monitor disk health via SMART. Firmware also performs the crucial function of logical block addressing - mapping physical blocks to virtual ones. Firmware code is partially stored on a ROM chip as found on the disk’s printed circuit board (PCB). However, most of the firmware code is stored on the System Area of the platters. When firmware goes corrupt or becomes inaccessible, it can often result in your LaCie Rugged disk being unable to mount in MacOS or Windows. The LaCie Rugged range frequently uses Seagate Mobile HDD 2.5” 5400rpm S-ATA disks (such as the ST1000LM035, ST1000LM048, ST1000LM049, and ST2000LM007). Most of these disks use the Rosewood family of firmware. This can be particularly challenging to work with due to being locked firmware, and for problems pertaining to its media cache function. Our data recovery equipment can repair damaged firmware modules in LaCie (Seagate) disks. Using a serial cable and the terminal port of a Seagate disk, our equipment can diagnose specific FW problems and can manipulate FW modules using Vendor Specific Commands. These commands are used by the disk manufacturers themselves to diagnose and repair disks.

Logical – Your LaCie Rugged disk may not be showing up in MacOS Finder or Windows Explorer due to a problem with the disk’s file system, such as HFS+ (Apple), NTFS (Windows), or ExFAT (Windows and Mac). The file system of your disk helps organise data. Typically, logical problems occur when the “catalog” file of HFS+ (disks formatted for Apple) or the NTFS Master File Table file (disks formatted for Windows) goes corrupt.

A ROM (EEPROM) chip as found on a LaCie Rugged USB-C external hard disk. This tiny chip contains unique servo-adaptive information needed for the disk-heads to align with the platters.

Electronic – The data on your LaCie Rugged disk may not be accessible because it has developed electronic problems. Inside your LaCie Rugged disk there is a component known as a printed circuit board (PCB). This board contains electronic chips such as an MCU (microcontroller unit), transient voltage suppressors, diodes, and a motor controller chip. If any of these components should fail due to an over-voltage event, for example, your LaCie disk might no longer work properly. Typically, an over-voltage event might occur if the wrong power voltage adaptor was connected to the power input port of your disk. For example, an 18V AC power adaptor accidentally plugged into the 12V power input port of your LaCie disk will probably cause electronic damage. In order to recover the data from a LaCie disk with electronic damage, we perform component-level repair of the PCB, or replace the PCB altogether. If the latter data recovery strategy is taken, it can be a time-consuming process, because just replacing the PCB board with an identical donor will not work. The ROM chip from the original board must be transferred onto the new donor board. This ROM chip contains servo-adaptive code unique to the disk needed to make your disk readable to the host computer.

A platter scan on a LaCie Rugged disk with severe read issues.

A very damaged disk-head number 3 (disk-head numbering always starts with 0) as found on a LaCie Rugged 2TB disk.

I own a 4TB LaCie Rugged USB-C (STFR4000800) that fell on the floor. Now the disk is no longer working. I thought these were meant to be shockproof drives?

The purpose of the orange rubber casing around your LaCie disk is to absorb shock from accidental falls. However, this is just a protective measure not a preventative one. Some falls, for example on a hard surface floor, will still incur damage to the disk-head assembly or disk-heads. Even the safest Volvo can hit a wall!

My LaCie Rugged will no longer mount on my MacBook. How do I fix this?

It is advisable to connect your LaCie Rugged to another Mac computer and see if the problem re-occurs. You could also try using a different USB cable. Otherwise, your LaCie Rugged might have logical, electronic, firmware or physical damage.

Can you recover from a LaCie Rugged disk that is encrypted using FileVault?

We offer a complete data recovery service for LaCie Rugged disks that are encrypted with Apple FileVault 1 and FileVault 2. You will need to provide us with your disk’s FileVault encryption passphrase though.

Can you recover from a LaCie Rugged disk that is encrypted using BitLocker to Go?

We offer a complete data recovery service for LaCie Rugged disks that have been encrypted with BitLocker to Go (128-bit and 256-bit)

My LaCie Rugged is not recognised by Windows and is encrypted with VeraCrypt. Can you recover from this?

Yes. We can retrieve data from your LaCie Rugged disk even if it’s encrypted with VeraCrypt.

When I connect my LaCie Rugged to my Windows computer, I receive the message “You need to format the disk in the drive before you can use it”. I have important photo and video files stored on it. Can they be recovered?

This message typically occurs if you have a damaged partition table. Sometimes a damaged partition table will be the only problem. Other times, it can just be a symptom of some other underlying problem with your LaCie Rugged disk. Our diagnostic process should be able to indicate the exact problem.

My Windows 11 computer wants me to “initialize” my LaCie Rugged 1TB USB3.0 disk. Will initialising my LaCie disk make my photos and documents accessible again?

Under no circumstances should you “initialize” a disk that holds valuable data. This is because initialising a disk rewrites the Master Boot Record. Unfortunately, running the “Initialize” command on an inaccessible disk will not suddenly make your data appear again. If you have accidentally initialised your disk, however, your data should still be recoverable.

All the MOV files and photos from my Panasonic Lumix camera have disappeared from my LaCie Rugged drive. When I connect the drive, it is assigned a letter but there are no folders or files showing up. This disk is making a normal humming noise.

This is possibly a problem with your disk’s firmware. Sometimes, the Seagate internal disks used in LaCie drives experience problems with their Media Cache function. This can cause files to disappear. In most cases, this problem can be resolved and your photos and videos can be recovered from your LaCie Rugged disk.

When I connect my LaCie Rugged disk to my Windows computer, it reports back that “E:/ is not accessible”.

This normally means that, for whatever reason, the Master File Table (MFT) of your disk is inaccessible. The MFT contains information about your disk including all the files on the volume, access control lists, bad sector records ($BadClus), root directory information and a volume object identifier file. An MFT can go corrupt due to logical, firmware, electronic or physical issues.

My 4TB LaCie Rugged (STFR4000800) USB-C fell on the floor. Now it’s making a buzzing noise. Is data recovery possible?

A buzzing noise is usually indicative of a seized spindle motor. Modern electro-mechanical hard disks have a spindle motor which uses a Fluid Dynamic Bearing. Instead of using ball bearings, this bearing mechanism uses a lubricant fluid to create an air-oil bearing. A spindle motor using an FDB bearing is much less susceptible to shock damage compared to those using ball bearings. However, a sudden shock will incur what is known as “axial shock”. This occurs when, due to the impact of the accidental fall, the chamber containing the lubricating fluid ruptures, breaking the air-oil interface, resulting in the lubricant leaking out. This damage is normally not visible to the naked eye but can result in an FDB mechanism seizing. This means that when you connect your LaCie Rugged to a host computer you will hear a buzzing or ticking noise. This is caused by the spindle motor trying to initialise. In some cases, the disk-heads may also be damaged, necessitating a disk-head assembly replacement.

A LaCie Rugged disk showing early signs of disk-head degradation. Most of the data from this disk should be recoverable.

A LaCie Rugged disk with advanced degradation. Notice how heads 0 and 1 have some rather dramatic drops in their read times.

Why is my 4TB LaCie Rugged USB-C (LRD0TU8) making beeping noises? Can the data be retrieved from it?

Beeping noises normally occur when the disk-heads are trying to find the disk initialisation code on the platters, but can’t find it. Each unsuccessful sweep of the disk’s actuator arm across the platters will cause a beep. Normally, this initialisation code can’t be found because of damaged disk-heads, or because the system area cannot be successfully read. Disk-head replacement or repair to the disk’s System Area can often result in your data becoming accessible again.

I have a LaCie Rugged XL (1TB) which is making a whirring noise but I cannot access its data.

A whirring or humming noise is certainly healthier than a clicking noise! A whirring but inaccessible LaCie Rugged drive might be indicative of a firmware or logical problem. However, there are some cases where a disk might be whirring quite healthily but still have one or more disk-heads that are problematic.

I've spilt water (beer, Coke, coffee, etc.) near my LaCie Rugged external disk and now it’s no longer turning on. Can the data be salvaged?

Even though most LaCie Rugged disks are IP67-rated against water damage, there can be cases where liquid ingress still occurs. Liquid coming into contact with the internal S-ATA disk of your LaCie will normally short-circuit the disk’s printed circuit board. In certain cases, this short-circuit will lead to an over-voltage event damaging the pre-amplifier chip located under the actuator arm. In most cases however, a liquid-damaged LaCie Rugged can be successfully recovered.

I accidentally formatted my 2TB LaCie Rugged disk (LAC9000298) using Disk Utility in MacOS. Can my photos and videos be salvaged?

Accidental formatting of drives is a problem more common than people think. Many users will have one or more external drives attached to their systems. During the disk formatting process in Disk Utility or Windows Disk Management, it can be all too easy to inadvertently select the wrong disk. However, in most cases, disks subject to a “quick format” in Windows Disk Management or Disk Utility (MacOS) can be successfully recovered from.

I plugged the wrong power adaptor into my 4TB LaCie Rugged disk (STFR4000400). Shortly afterwards, I smelt smoke and I immediately unplugged it. Now my LaCie disk seems to be totally dead. Is it possible to recover the data?

It is likely that the wrong power adaptor has caused an over-voltage event inside your disk. This can often be remedied by replacing your disk’s PCB. However, just replacing the PCB alone is unlikely to get your disk operational again. This is because there is a tiny ROM (or EEPROM) chip on your original PCB that needs to be micro-desoldered off. Then, this needs to be micro-soldered onto the donor PCB. This is a crucially important step. The ROM chip contains unique servo-adaptive information needed for the disk-heads to align properly with the platters. Once ROM swap has been performed, your disk should be operational again with your data accessible.

The actuator arm inside a LaCie Rugged disk. The “arm” of disk is also known as the disk-head assembly. This hyper-tuned mechanism moves with nano metre precision over the platters as they spin at 5400rpm.

My LaCie Rugged Mini 4TB (LAC9000633) is no longer recognised by my MacBook Pro. It sounds as if the arm inside the disk is stuck. If I open the disk up and move the arm, will that get the disk working again?

While very tempting, opening the Seagate disk inside your LaCie Rugged drive to move the actuator arm is not a good idea. We recognise that you’re anxious to access your data again – that’s totally understandable. However, opening your disk is not a good idea for a number of reasons. First of all, hard disks need to be opened up in a clean room. In any standard room of a house or office, no matter how clean, there will be particulates or aerosols of dust floating in the air. (To test this just leave a clean upwards-facing mirror in a room for an hour and you will see tiny specks of dust on it.) Unfortunately, these particles of dust can be very detrimental to recovery efforts. Secondly, it’s often not just a case of lifting the actuator arm back into position again. Modern hard disks are hyper-tuned so the actuator arm follows a very well-defined track. Here at Drive Rescue, we use specialised head-unstick tools which enable us to safely reposition the stuck or misaligned actuator arm safely back onto the disk’s ramp again. This minimises the probability of any damage. Crudely trying to plonk the stuck actuator arm back into position using your hands in a non-clean room environment will probably incur more damage and hinder your chances of a successful recovery.

A Seagate ST2000LM007 as found inside a LaCie Rugged disk with un-correctable sectors commonly known as bad sectors. Notice how these have been added to the G-List (G-Sense Error Rate). This is like the disk’s own internal tally on errors which can’t be corrected by ECC.

I’ve run some diagnostic software on my LaCie Rugged USB-C 1TB (STFR10004000) and it reports over 10,000 bad sectors. Can this be fixed?

Bad sectors can never really be fixed because often the bad sectors (or bad blocks) reported by hard disk diagnostic software tend to be “hard” bad sectors. This means the ECC (error correcting code) function of the disk cannot reallocate them to the Reserved Area of the disk. While every case is different, in most cases a LaCie Rugged with extensive bad sectors can be recovered from using specialised equipment. This hardware equipment reads the disk using ATA commands in direct I/O mode whilst ignoring ECC status. It also has the capability to read in very small increments such as 8KB block sizes. This equipment is also used by forensic laboratories and police forces across the world. This helps us maximise the chances of a successful data recovery result for you.

My external hard drive, a 2TB LaCie Rugged USB-C (STFR2000400) keeps on disconnecting when I try to copy files to my iMac. This is really annoying; can this drive be fixed?

A LaCie Rugged randomly disconnecting from your computer can be caused by a number of issues. There could be an issue with bad sectors, or with the disk-heads. For example, if your disk has 5 heads, heads 0-3 might be fine. However, if head 4 is bad and is used to read certain tracks, your disk might spin down and disconnect. This is actually a self-protection feature of many electro-mechanical HDDs. Sometimes disabling the faulty disk-head using specialised equipment enables data recovery on the drive. Otherwise, the disk-head assembly may have to be replaced.

Can you recover from an inaccessible LaCie Rugged RAID Pro 4TB (STGW4000800)?

Drive Rescue offers a full RAID data recovery service for LaCie Rugged RAID disks. These drives are different from standard LaCie external drives because internally they normally use two S-ATA disks instead of one. Typically, these disks are virtually joined into one data volume using RAID. This is called RAID 0. This means that your data is equally spread across the two disks. Therefore, if one disk fails, the whole volume becomes unreadable. In order to recover your data, we will need to repair any disk defects first so that the RAID array can be rebuilt and your data extracted.

My LaCie RAID PRO 4TB is no longer showing up on my Mac or Windows computer. Can its data be recovered?

In most cases – yes. This device can be configured in RAID 0 (factory configuration) or in RAID 1. Drive Rescue offer a complete data recovery service for both types of RAID.

I’ve been using a LaCie Rugged Secure drive for the past 2 years. My local computer repair shop has told me it has failed and they cannot recover from it. This disk is also encrypted – can you retrieve the data from it?

LaCie Rugged Secure uses Seagate Secure. This full-disk encryption application uses AES-256 to encrypt your data. If your disk is recoverable, in most cases we will need your encryption pass-phrase to decrypt the drive. While encrypted disks do add a technical overhead to our recovery process, barring severe platter or System Area damage, your LaCie Rugged disk should still be recoverable.

What is the best data recovery software to recover data from a LaCie Rugged hard drive?

Here is a secret most data recovery software companies don’t tell you about. Their software is typically designed to recover accidentally deleted data on healthy electro-mechanical hard disks. Such applications are not designed to recover data from disks with extensive bad sectors, firmware issues, or bad heads. Truth be told, if your disk has extensive bad sectors or defective heads, these software applications are the equivalent of water torture for your disk. This software tries to get your disk to force-read sectors again and again. This is the very last thing you want to be doing with an unstable drive! Drive Rescue uses specialised hardware-level data recovery equipment which is specifically engineered to work with damaged disks without incurring any further damage.

I have Time Machine backups from my iMac stored on my LaCie Rugged Mini 2TB drive (9000298). I’ve since reformatted my iMac and now I need to access these backups. However, this LaCie drive is now making the “click of death” sound. Can this drive be recovered from?

Most LaCie Rugged drives that are clicking can be recovered from. However, some disks cannot be recovered from. LaCie Rugged disks that are unrecoverable usually have a scratched platter or a damaged System Area. A scratched or dinked platter can seriously complicate a data recovery process because as soon as new disk-heads are fitted, they can basically get “de-railed” by the scratch or dink. The System Area (SA) stores firmware code unique to the disk. If serious damage happens to the SA, it can also result in an unrecoverable disk. Drive Rescue invests substantial amounts of resources in professional-level data recovery equipment and training every year. Even if your disk is in a bad condition, we have the tools and experience to maximise your chances of the best possible data recovery outcome.

Are LaCie Rugged disks reliable?

No disks, no matter what brand or type (SSD or HDD) should be considered reliable! Even the most reliable disk in the world can still suffer from an accidental fall, or get inadvertently formatted. Even the most reliable disk can suffer from failed disk-heads due to wear-and-tear, or suffer a power surge. Over the years we’ve seen customers buy the most expensive disk they could find and it still ended up failing. At the end of the day, it all boils down to never relying on a single backup. Always use at least two different backup mediums, with one stored off-site.

I think the USB Micro B Super Speed port on my LaCie Rugged external drive is broken because I can hear the disk spinning but can’t access it. Can you fix this problem?

Some users who can no longer access their LaCie Rugged disk will assume that the USB connection port on their disk is damaged or defective. While this can happen, it is extremely rare. In the odd cases of USB port damage we do come across, you can actually see signs of physical damage on the USB Micro B connector. When you have a LaCie disk that appears to be spinning but not mounting in MacOS or Windows, it could be a problem with the file system (such as HFS+, exFAT, or NTFS), it could be a firmware problem, or it could be a problem with the disk-heads. For the latter point, it is important to remember that not all disks with damaged heads click.

I’ve taken the actual 2.5” hard disk out of my LaCie Rugged drive which is a Seagate Mobile HDD 2TB (ST2000LM007). I’ve attached it to my PC and have tried running EaseUS recovery software on it but it keeps on freezing. How do I stop the recovery software from freezing?

EaseUS is probably freezing on you because when trying to read your data the application is coming across bad sectors, or your disk is experiencing head or firmware issues. Professional data recovery companies such as Drive Rescue use equipment that reads your disk at hardware level. This means even if your disk has extensive bad sectors, your data can still be read. If your disk has head or firmware issues these problems usually cannot be resolved just using data recovery software.

I'm based in Dublin, Ireland. Do you offer a repair service to fix LaCie Rugged disks?

Fixing a LaCie Rugged disk and recovering a LaCie Rugged disk is more or less the same process. Typically, a disk needs to be repaired before it can be recovered! Moreover, hard disks are not designed to be repaired for the purposes of normal use. If a disk such as a LaCie Rugged fails, it is repaired to get it operational again so that its data can be extracted. This repair process is not intended so the disk can be put into normal use again.

When I connect my LaCie Rugged to my computer, I get an “access is denied” error message. How do I fix this?

In Windows Disk Management, you can try changing the disk letter. For example, if your disk is currently assigned “D”, change it to some other letter, like “H”. Disconnect your drive from your computer and reconnect it. It might now appear in Windows Explorer normally.

In Windows Disk Management, my LaCie Rugged Disk appears as “invalid”. Can data be recovered from such a disk?

This problem sounds like your drive has a corrupted Master Boot Table. In most cases, this problem can be resolved and your data recovered from your corrupted LaCie Rugged drive.