• Data recovery

    Greenwich Communication Centre has been delivering high-quality computer maintenance and repair services since 2006. Our expert engineers are on hand six days a week to provide cost-effective and speedy solutions to any computing problem.

    Why do Hard Drives Fail?

    Logical Failures:

    Logical failures occur when the electronic s of the hard drive failure or the software (firmware) has a problem. This kind of failure is usually the cheapest and easiest to have fixed.

    Media Failures: 

    If the hard drive has been handled roughly, or the magnetic platters are scratched, have read/write errors or low-level formatting problems, this is a media failure. Once the platters are scratched, the data will be un-retrievable.

    Mechanical Failures: 

    Mechanical failures probably make up the bulk of hard drive failures e.g. the motor burns out, the drive overheats, bearings get stuck. These can be bad but if the failure didn’t affect the platters, your files maybe able to be recovered.

    Head Failures:

    A head failure occurs when the read/write head crashes into the platters (the head crash), has an ‘improper flying height’ or the wiring between the logic board and the head is faulty—among other failures related to malfunction of the read/write head. This is a bad, yet common failure.

    How do I know if my hard drive is failing?

    Hard drives are mechanical devices, and therefore will die eventually. It’s important to learn to recognize the warning signs of an imminent hard drive failure, so you can rescue your files and data before they become un-accessible. The best fix is prevention rather than cure – get in the habit of regularly back up to another location (not on the same hard drive).

    • Listen for unusual noises: Hearing strange grinding noises means your drive is beyond repair—for instance, if you’ve had a head crash, or the motor has failed or your hard drive is grinding away because of noisy bearings. If you’re hearing strange noises, act quickly—you probably don’t have much time. Power it down immediately. Get to know the sound of your hard drive while it’s young and in working order, because you’ll need to be able to hear the slightest differences when it gets older.
    • Look out for disappearing data and disk errors: You can’t save a document? A file on your desktop has disappeared? Software has stop working, asking where a file it depends on is stored? These are all potential signs that your hard drive is failing - disappearing data is never a good sign for your drive if you can rule out alternative causes.
    • Computer can’t see your drive: If your computer no longer recognises its hard drive, the chances are there’s a problem with the drive rather than the computer. Often, this will be a logical failure—unless you can hear strange noises that indicate a severe mechanical or head problem.
    • Computer is crashing: Do you regularly see a blue-screen or get a sudden reboot? Does it crash often, especially when booting the operating system or when accessing files, this may indicate a problem with your drive.
    • Very Slow access time: Does it take 30mins to open the internet? One hours to empty the trash? This sort of lag time is usually followed by a failing hard drive within a month or two.
    • File System errors: If your computer crashes or can't find a file that was there not long ago it can mean that your hard-drive is on its way out, but it could also be that there is a simple file-system error in the disks' formatting. These types of error can usually be fixed. In most cases the drive will work normally again. However if the error recurs, either on reboot or within a few of operation as the original error; then your drive is failing and you should try to back up as much data from that drive as you can as quickly as you can before removing and replacing that drive.

    What do I do now?

    If it looks like your hard drive is failing, bring your computer into us as soon as you can. The first thing we will do is diagnose the health of the hard drive and attempt to retrieve your files (if you have been unable to do so). To repair your computer we will replace the faulty hard drive with a new one. Common sizes of hard drives are 320GB, 500GB, 1TB and 2TB – you can decide what size you want. Once the new drive is installed we can then re-install the operating system with relevant/critical updates and other base programs and then proceed, to transfer back your files onto the new hard drive. Alternatively, you can do this yourself, if you were successfully able to make a back up, before bringing your computer into us. Note: Applications can’t be backed up – they need to be re-installed (with licence keys where appropriate).

    What if my files are inaccessible?

    Greenwich Communication Centre is able to provide some basic data recovery services, so don’t panic until we have completed our diagnostics. In the event, that your hard drive has suffered a serious failure and we are unable to access your files, we can refer you to a specialist data recovery laboratory who may be able to deploy special processes to recover your lost data, but be warned these services can be very expensive, so you will have to decide if your lost files are worth the expense.

    Brands we service

    Greenwich Communication Centre services all models of internal and external hard drives including:
    Apple, Buffalo, Hitachi, Samsung, Seagate, Sony, Toshiba, Verbatim and Western Digital. We can also assist with recovering data from damaged memory sticks.

    How to get in touch

    If you’d like to book a service or have any questions please call us on on 020 8269 2103 or fill out our enquiry form or pop in the store.


    We’re happy to offer students a 10% discount on all our computer maintenance and repair services.

    To claim your discount all you need to do is show us your valid NUS card when you drop your device into the Centre.

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