Frequently Asked Questions

How does a fall or drop damage the files inside a hard drive?

Although the files aren’t physical components of your drive, remember that they are still stored in the drive itself—think of it as the drive’s circuits having the files coded in. A fall could possibly dislodge the drive’s circuitry, which in turn could damage its ability to store data—meaning, loss of files.

How does a power surge damage a hard drive?

Many electronics’ internal parts are connected via a PCB: Printed Circuit Board. As the entire device is powered by electricity, a sudden surge has a chance of overloading one or more circuits. Too much electricity in the circuit can cause those components to malfunction, which then can lead to losing data stored in the drive.

What is firmware corruption?

Firmware is the particular software that provides control, monitoring and data manipulation of a product or system. Most firmware in a system is permanent—meaning, it can’t be uninstalled and isn’t meant to be tampered with. Damage to the system from one source or another (be it physical trauma or some form of malware) could end up making unwelcome alterations to this firmware, which in turn affects the parts of a system’s programs that are integral to its functions.

What is file structure damage?

Every file is saved in a specific format. This is why you’ll often see file extensions like .doc, .xls, etc. This means that every file is recognized by your computer (and others) as a very specific type of file, opened (and modified) using specific programs (like Microsoft Word for .doc files). Corruption or damage to a file may cause a system to be unable to recognize it, or possible even have the file’s structure scattered across different folders of the hard drive.

Why is it unsafe to delete or format your hard drive?

Simply deleting files or formatting a hard drive, without the proper programs for reinstallation or reboot, can cause serious damage to a system—notably this could mistakenly affect critical files such as a computer’s firmware. Many cases needing data recovery have been prompted by a user proceeding with a delete or reformat and accidentally wiping some crucial software off the hard drive.

What is “bad sectors” damage?

A bad sector is, simply put, a part of a hard drive damaged so badly that the computer can’t read or write to it. This usually happens because of physical damage (wear and tear, or the aforementioned falls), which very rarely can be fixed, and software damage, which is usually fixed by formatting the drive or recovering data. If not fixed in a timely manner, some bad sectors might become permanent damage—necessitating replacement of the hard drive instead of simply fixing it.

What happens to my hard drive after the data assessment has been completed?

Following the recovery process, we have several options.

We can return the old drive to you. The cost of the postage and packing is $30.

We can recycle some components.

We can securely destroy the hard drive and erase the disc(s).

Most hard drives will require some form of repair in order to recover the data. After all, this is why they have failed in the first place. A repaired hard drive has a limited lifespan and will most certainly fail in the future.

Frequently Used Terms

Heads & Platters

The heads of a hard drive are the tiny sensors that interface with other devices in order to read and write data—if you placed the end of a hard drive’s plug under magnification, these would be the tiny metallic ‘pointy bits’ that fit into the socket. A platter is the part of a hard drive where data is stored; these are inside the hard drive and look like glass or aluminum discs. The most common interaction here is that heads are what your device uses to write files onto the platter.


Short for printed circuit board. A non-conductive surface within an electronic device that uses conductive tracks, copper sheets, and other types of devices to connect the various components of the machine. If the machine itself were a series of railways, think of the PCB as the ground upon which the tracks are laid.


A specific type of software that provides control, monitoring and data manipulation for an electronic device. Firmware is generally crucial to a system’s operation and meant to be permanent—your average user shouldn’t be able to tamper with, modify or uninstall firmware. An example of computer firmware is the BIOS—software a user very rarely interacts with unless doing some extremely advanced troubleshooting of the system. Other machines that user firmware are television remote controls, or navigational computers installed in automobiles.


Solid state drive/disk. A type of more advanced hard drive technology named so because it is constructed without any moving mechanical components—it’s effectively one ‘solid block’ of machinery. This is achieved by using integrated circuit assemblies, a.k.a. having electronic circuits built into one small plate (known as the “chip”). The result is a tougher, more secure hard drive that’s also more expensive than traditional types of storage.


Redundant array of independent (formerly inexpensive) disks. A type of data storage technology that makes use of multiple physical disk drive components and has them as one unit in order to achieve data redundancy and possibly improve performance—effectively files being stored across several drives multiple times in order to make their storage even more secure. There are several ways to distribute drives in this manner, known as RAID levels (usually noted by a number i.e. RAID 0, RAID 1), and higher RAID levels provide greater protection against loss of files and development of bad sectors.

Secure wipe

Simply put, removing data from a drive in a safe manner—the most common example is properly uninstalling a program, instead of simply hitting Delete. Not undergoing a secure wipe of files may lead to software problems.


Encoding information in such that only someone with authorization can access it. Most often achieved through security keys or passwords, though more advanced (and obscure) forms of encryption exist that need entire programs to decode them for reading.

Password removal

Removing a password set in the system, or resetting it to the default password (as part of restoring to factory settings). Generally done to provide a new user or a technician access to some files they couldn’t access otherwise.

Bad sectors

Parts in a drive’s storage space damaged to the point that they are no longer recognizable by the device itself. Can come about due to physical damage to a drive’s components, or software damage (i.e. corrupted files).

USB flash drives

One of the most common forms of data storage device today, usually no larger than a man’s thumb. Still in common use due to their compatibility with USB ports, which most computers have built into them for interfacing with a variety of devices and peripherals. Flash drives are most often used for quickly transferring small to medium files from one device to another.

ROM chip

ROM is for read-only memory, or the segment of a computer’s software that is basically hardwired into it—a.k.a. meant to be effectively unmodifiable (usually due to it being crucial to a system’s functions: see firmware). The ROM chip is the part of a computer’s circuitry that contains this very important piece of data. Take note that ROM isn’t impossible to modify—just very difficult, and extremely risky to the device’s functions.

Controller chip

The part of a computer’s circuitry that interfaces with a peripheral device—basically any other device that plugs into the computer and functions with it (most notably the mouse, keyboard and speakers). Some computers have controllers that are external to the device, but they are more often integrated into the circuitry of the computer itself. Not to be confused with controller in the gaming sense, which refers to peripherals that plug into a device (computer or gaming console) and manipulate its operations; usually referred to as game controllers or less formally, gamepads (“pad” for short).

Data Recovery FAQWho are we?

Sydney Data Recovery, located in NSW, Australia. We have been recovering data, images and files for individuals and businesses with failed hard drives and software issues for more than a decade with fantastic results.

Who are our clients?

Our clients consist from individuals with personal devices & mobiles to businesses with large operations. Sydney data recovery has also serviced educational institutes to government establishments where privacy is paramount.

What is “Data Recovery”

Performed by trained experts, data recovery is the last resort when all other methods, including commercial software, fail. Our processes allow data recovery from non-working or inaccessible disk drives, floppy/optical disks, tape backups or other media.

Why Hard Drives fail

Common reason whys hard drives fail are usually from accidental miss use or dropped, water or fire, electric surge from mains or lighting. Virus and software corruption is also a real threat.

How do I know my hard drive needs repair?

  • Hard Drive is making funny noises
  • Accidental format (Re-installed Windows)
  • Floods / Water-damage (Fire, etc.)
  • Can’t retrieve or view any of my data

How do we recover your data?

Each project is analysed on an individual basis and only then can an action plan be developed. Sydney Data Recovery prides itself on being unique in its approach with state-of-the-art replications technology to duplicate clients’ data bit by bit. This reduces the risk of causing further damage to the data. Our engineers will identify the problem by a series of technical software and mechanical tests, then notify you with the solution to recovery your data.

Why is a clean room needed?

Hard drives operate internally with fine mechanical parts, the smallest particle could present further issues to the device later.

Can data always be recovered? What are my chances?

Sydney data recovery have been operating in Australia for over a decade with great success, even though we are confident in our ability there is no way to 100% guarantee the recovery without understanding the problem. On rare occasions the damage is permanent and no data can be recovered from the media. Most times Sydney Data Recovery can recover some or all of the data even in extreme conditions.

“Time limit”: How long do I have before my data is retrieved?

A: No matter who you speak with they can never tell you upfront how long it will take without understanding exactly the problem. As mentioned before each device is different due to multiply manufactures creating hard drives from different locations across the world. Add to this is the constant effort for innovation.

How much does Data Recovery cost?

Sydney data recovery have an upfront attempt fee of $220.00 to establish the best course of recovery. We do also offer a priority fee that will speed up the process but fees regarding fixing will vary depending on the problem. Sydney data recovery will only proceed to fix your device once they have established the issue and notified you with the best path to recovery.

How long does Data Recovery take?

Upon receipt of the media Sydney Data Recovery will provide a report within 1 business day outlining the specifics of the project and estimated time. Most projects have a turnaround of 48 hours, however depending on the media damage this may take several days, even weeks.

How do I send you my drive?

To ensure your device has no further damage please ensure your device is packed well with protection and posted with the appropriate packaging from Australian Post. Our team will message you with information with an easy to understand layout on how to pack your drive or device.

How do we return your data?

Sydney Data Recovery will return your data with the same file names, data type and file structure as before the failure. Depending on the volume of data can be returned on CD, DVD, loan or replacement hard drive.
Please understand that once your hard drive is damaged and the surviving data is recovered your old hard drive is no longer usable. Hard drive recovery is about recovery the data from the hard drive… not returning the physical hard drive itself to a working state.

“Going Forward” What should I do after I receive my data back?

Sydney data recovery provide lots of free information regarding safe data solutions which range from common hard drive care to software solutions for corruption and virus problems. We can provide future proof options and advice to ensure you are protected and you can make better choices in the future.