Of course, one sure way to break a computer is by dropping it, but many people wonder what actually happens to the computer when it gets dropped that makes it stop working. There are a number of different issues that can arise, with the most simple being screen and case damage. If the case becomes damaged, you may also be facing the chance of a part of the motherboard being broken off, making the computer irrepairable. The most common issue, however, is hard drive failure.
The hard drive in your computer is the part that stores both your personal files, and the files needed to boot the computer and run an operating system such as Microsoft Windows. The hard drive is also the most delecate part of the computer. It works a bit like a traditional record player, but on a microscopic level. A small arm moves back and forth, the end of which contains a device that can change the polarity of molecules on the platter, the surface that the arm moves over. Because the data on the platter is stored so densely, any damage to it can cause failure. When the computer is dropped, it’s possble that the arm can scratch the platter, making it difficult for the computer to read. As the drive continues to be used, the scratch will become deeper, eventually causing failure. The hard drive will often make some noise if this is about to happen — see our article about noises your computer might make.
So, what do I do?
First and foremost, turn it off. This is one of the rare cases where it is OK to turn your computer off immediately by holding down the power button. Since Windows will try to write a bunch of information out to the hard drive during the shutdown process, it is good to just skip that in this case. You should not do this if your drive is not failing.
Don’t turn it back on. No matter how bad you need your data, turning the computer or drive back on will only increase your chance of irrecoverable data loss.
Protect the computer. Since the computer can’t be used anyway, take it and put it somewhere that it will be protected from any further shocks. If you have a padded case, put it in there. If your comfortable with removing the hard drive, you can take it out and put it in a padded container. Otherwise, I recommend puting it somewhere on the floor, but where it won’t get stepped on, like under your bed.
Bring it to a professional. Data recovery is a complicated task. This is why you should carefully bring your computer to a professional to have it looked at. South City Computer has an in-house data recovery specialist that can diagnose your issue and help you recover your data. We use advanced imaging technologies to pull raw data off the drive if necessary. We can then search this data for your important files. We also have specialists that can replace your hard drive with a new one and move your files over.
Don’t let a drop cause data loss in the first place! We offer comprehensive backup and recovery plans that eliminate the need for data recovery in case of a failure. We have some more information here, but you can also give us a call at 314-400-7918 for more information and to sign up.