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Data recovery and disk repair questions and discussions related to old-fashioned SATA, SAS, SCSI, IDE, MFM hard drives - any type of storage device that has moving parts
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Helium filled HDD: how hard are they to extract data from?

February 8th, 2019, 18:03

Hi all,
I plan on upgrading my NAS and I've been looking at 10TB drives because they offer a lot of TB/$ value. The thing is that almost all of them are He filled (the ones from WD/HGST/Seagate anyway... not sure about Toshiba). I've heard from a friend that when one of these dies, PCB swap is not expansive but a head swap is extremely expensive because the drives are laser-welded and I'm not even sure how they're opened and re-filled with He. After lots of searching, some even claim that the data is practically 'unrecoverable' at this time.

Does anyone have some insight into this? How hard is it to recover data from these drives?

Thanks!

Re: Helium filled HDD: how hard are they to extract data fro

February 8th, 2019, 18:08

Seagate are selling data recovery insurance with their drives. I'd be curious to know how they propose to perform head swaps if they become necessary, otherwise what is their insurance really worth?

Re: Helium filled HDD: how hard are they to extract data fro

February 8th, 2019, 18:14

fzabkar wrote:Seagate are selling data recovery insurance with their drives. I'd be curious to know how they propose to perform head swaps if they become necessary, otherwise what is their insurance really worth?

Amazon has an upsell for recovery as well. When you add one of these drives to the cart and check out, they sell recovery insurance for under $50 IIRC. I have a hard time believing that this will be honored. I'm thinking that if it ever comes to that, they'll just refund your money and say "Sorry, data was unrecoverable". That's a pretty good scam.

Re: Helium filled HDD: how hard are they to extract data fro

February 8th, 2019, 23:55

Im sure the data recovery insurance comes with many Caveats

"we will give it our best shot, but if we cant recover data, sorry... S.O.L"

Re: Helium filled HDD: how hard are they to extract data fro

February 9th, 2019, 6:13

HaQue wrote:Im sure the data recovery insurance comes with many Caveats

"we will give it our best shot, but if we cant recover data, sorry... S.O.L"


I fully expect the “insurance” won’t cover physical issues with these drives.

Re: Helium filled HDD: how hard are they to extract data fro

February 9th, 2019, 9:39

Motoko wrote:How hard is it to recover data from these drives?

Thanks!


The issue with these drives is cutting the top cover off without destroying the platters. You can see a video of it being attempted here on youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_cont ... NMtvYnI1gQ

Until someone invents a sort of can opener to safely and quickly open these, recovery rates will continue to be very expensive.
None of us want to touch the internal parts of these drives if we can help it, so we quote high and hope to not have to deal with it. If someone does approve, it has to be worth the time that'll be spent building a custom cutting apparatus for the case.

Fortunately, there haven't been too many of these showing up for recovery since most are used in enterprise applications where backups are the norm. If we start seeing consumer grade helium-filled drives this will all change fast.

Re: Helium filled HDD: how hard are they to extract data fro

February 9th, 2019, 11:17

data-medics wrote:... None of us want to touch the internal parts of these drives if we can help it, so we quote high and hope to not have to deal with it. If someone does approve, it has to be worth the time that'll be spent building a custom cutting apparatus for the case.
Don't include us in that, we don't quote high to avoid the truth. We tell the customer the truth, at this time we don't have the tools or experience to recover a helium drive with mechanical failure.

Re: Helium filled HDD: how hard are they to extract data fro

February 9th, 2019, 17:23

I did open helium drives with just good knife. There is normal cap with screws under aluminum foil, so it is hard to brake platters.

Re: Helium filled HDD: how hard are they to extract data fro

February 9th, 2019, 17:30

drHDD wrote:I did open helium drives with just good knife. There is normal cap with screws under aluminum foil, so it is hard to brake platters.

I haven't tried, but that was my understanding. Until I have time to play, I'll continue to refer elsewhere.

Re: Helium filled HDD: how hard are they to extract data fro

February 9th, 2019, 18:31

lcoughey wrote:
drHDD wrote:I did open helium drives with just good knife. There is normal cap with screws under aluminum foil, so it is hard to brake platters.

I haven't tried, but that was my understanding. Until I have time to play, I'll continue to refer elsewhere.


I’m not convinced, on the 10tb WD drives I’ve got here there’s no regular screws underneath any foil. Either way, I’m man enough to admit it’s beyond my pay grade :-)

Re: Helium filled HDD: how hard are they to extract data fro

February 9th, 2019, 19:07

pcimage wrote:I’m not convinced, on the 10tb WD drives I’ve got here there’s no regular screws underneath any foil.

Thanks
This is strange though
on 6/8TB He WD/HGST drives there are screws under

Re: Helium filled HDD: how hard are they to extract data fro

February 10th, 2019, 8:27

The ones we opened was all of them was with cap and screws under aluminum foil.
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Re: Helium filled HDD: how hard are they to extract data fro

February 10th, 2019, 23:08

Blizzard wrote:
data-medics wrote:... None of us want to touch the internal parts of these drives if we can help it, so we quote high and hope to not have to deal with it. If someone does approve, it has to be worth the time that'll be spent building a custom cutting apparatus for the case.
Don't include us in that, we don't quote high to avoid the truth. We tell the customer the truth, at this time we don't have the tools or experience to recover a helium drive with mechanical failure.


It's not about quoting high to "avoid the truth". If a customer is willing to pay a reasonable amount that'll cover some of the R&D time we'd need to spend, we'll develop a solution to safely open them. But it'd have to be a high enough rate to be worth the expensive drives we'll probably ruin and some of the tooling we'd need to have built for the purpose (which will likely only be used once or twice more in the near future). I've got a family member who's an expert tool maker in the medical/surgical field, so it's certainly not beyond doing for us. It would, however, need to be financially worthwhile for such a specialty case for now.

Re: Helium filled HDD: how hard are they to extract data fro

February 11th, 2019, 1:33

data-medics wrote:... None of us want to touch the internal parts of these drives if we can help it, so we quote high and hope to not have to deal with it.

You implied you speak for everyone. I simply clarified our position, not yours :)
It's not a matter of "if we can help it", we flat out can not handle these drives with mechanical failure at this time. And we don't quote high so we don't have to deal with it, we absolutely do not have the ability to deal with helium right now so that's what we tell the customer.

Re: Helium filled HDD: how hard are they to extract data fro

February 11th, 2019, 19:09

Speaking of these drives... I just got home from work and noticed that my package of two He-filled drives arrived. One is a WD Red Pro and other is a HGST. I expected these two drives to be different but they appear to be the exact same drive. One appears to be made in China and other in Thailand but I can't see any manufacturing differences at all.

Is WD just rebranding HGST drives? I'm pretty sure they were different in the past.

(click for a bigger image)

Image
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Anyway, I ordered one of each thinking that I'll be able to test them and see which ones are better but it appears to be a fool's errand at this point.

Re: Helium filled HDD: how hard are they to extract data fro

February 12th, 2019, 11:21

Motoko wrote:Is WD just rebranding HGST drives?

Yes
Moreover WD owns HGST hard drives

Re: Helium filled HDD: how hard are they to extract data fro

February 12th, 2019, 14:53

Data recovery industry becomes more and more challenging. Deal with it.

Image

Re: Helium filled HDD: how hard are they to extract data fro

February 17th, 2019, 16:04

For reference :

http://www.hddoracle.com/viewtopic.php?f=21&t=2549

:D

Re: Helium filled HDD: how hard are they to extract data fro

February 18th, 2019, 11:18

Doomer wrote:
pcimage wrote:I’m not convinced, on the 10tb WD drives I’ve got here there’s no regular screws underneath any foil.

Thanks
This is strange though
on 6/8TB He WD/HGST drives there are screws under


It seems you guys were correct.....

There are screws but under a VERY thick "foil" that looks liked it's welded to the edge of the drive. This "foil" was a pig to remove as it was about the same thickness as the Aluminium on a Coke can!
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Re: Helium filled HDD: how hard are they to extract data fro

February 18th, 2019, 13:27

Damn,
14 Heads :mrgreen:
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