Fires are fortunately a rare event, but when they occur that tend to cause extensive damage to all property, including the building, furniture and other items, such as computer systems and storage solutions. Even if fire suppression systems are active, or the fire does not directly affect your computers, they are highly likely to suffer damage.
It is disasters such a fires and flooding, which highlight the importance of storing backups off-site, which should ensure your data can be restored following such an event. Even if the fire has not directly affected the computer or storage system, smoke may have infiltrated the drives, which would cause damage if they are powered up again without being cleaned by a professional data recovery company, such as DiskEng.
Fire Damaged Systems
Each platter, which stores the magnetic data, is made of durable materials, which can usually survive the temperatures experience in most fires, unless an accelerant causes it to be excessively hot. Although the drive must be dismantled, cleaned and reassembled before the data can be recovered, the success rates for such hard disks are very high. The main complication which can occur is if water has entered the internal mechanism.
For any drive which has suffered damage in a fire, it is common for the controller board to be damaged, with the connectors for the power and data interface to melt. These are visible, easily identifiable issues, but smoke particles entering the drive mechanism can result in damage occurring, should the drive be powered up. Never power up a drive which has come from a fire damage computer system, damage is likely to occur, which would be avoided by sending it for data recovery.
Should the drive have become wet, resulting from fighting the fire or even a water caused by damage to the building, it is essential to make sure the drive is kept wet. If the drive is allowed to dry out, the residue which will settle onto the platters can be both corrosive to the surface of the platter, but may also destroy the read/write heads if the drive is powered up.
Fire Damaged Disk Data Recovery
When a fire damaged hard disk arrives at our data recovery laboratory, it is essential for our hardware data recovery specialists to dismantle the hard drive so that each component can be cleaned properly. Any damaged components must then be replaced, before the drive can be rebuilt. A failure to clean the drive is likely to see the read/write heads impact with a particle inside the drive and bounce off the surface of the platters, which will not only destroy them, but can potentially scrape the entire magnetic recording surface away.
RAID arrays damaged by fire are rarely seen for data recovery, although the success rate is very high, especially for any RAID configuration with built-in fault tolerance, such as RAID 1 and RAID 5. RAID systems are usually subject to stringent backup procedures, meaning that even if they are damaged, it is possible for the data to be restored. In all cases of fire damaged hard drives, being it a desktop, laptop, server or a RAID array, it should be sent for professional data recovery, to avoid any unnecessary damage occurring.