An ex-situ technique for the drive-independent forensic recovery of data from failed hard drives has been developed.
For drives which have suffered damage from a head crash or other mechanical problems and cannot be resuscitated
using standard software, firmware, or part-replacement techniques, there is currently no commercially available means
to recover the data, even though the files are still stored on the magnetic disks. Here, we report on the results of a spinstand
imaging based technology, where the failed disk is removed from its native drive, placed on a spin-stand, and
scanned with a giant magnetoresistive head. After track centering, track following, signal detection, data decoding, error
correction, and sector mapping, the otherwise unrecoverable data can be retrieved to the computer operating system.
Spin-stand based data imaging has the potential to provide recovery at data rates approaching those in the native drive
and is a truly drive-independent method to recover hard disk data in a time-efficient manner.