A hard drive head crash is one of the most common HDD failures. All your data on the affected HDD is at risk when it occurs. While it might be stressful, knowing what you're dealing with can make this HDD failure significantly more manageable.

Learn everything about an HDD head crash, including what it is, how to recognize its symptoms, and how to complete hard disk head-crash data recovery.

Table of Content
    1. Turn Off Your Device
    2. Check for Symptoms
    1. Use a Data Recovery Tool
    2. Reach Out to Professional Data Recovery Services

What Is a Hard Drive Head Crash?

To understand what a hard drive head crash is, you need to know the two essential elements of every HDD. Your hard drive works thanks to platters and actuator heads. Platters are where your data is, while the hardware that writes and reads data is the actuator.

a hard drive head crash

A hard drive head crash is when an actuator head comes in contact with your hard drive platters.

It may happen for many reasons. The most common include the following:

  • An electronic issue physically misaligns an actuator head.
  • The mishandling (letting the hard drive fall) causes structural damage to the actuator heads.
  • The spindle stops turning with enough force, causing less-than-optimal airflow inside the drive and increasing the risk of actuator heads coming in direct contact with the platters.

A hard drive head crash is undoubtedly a severe data loss scenario. However, in many cases, the data is still recoverable. How do you know a head crash has occurred in your hard drive? Let's see.

Symptoms of a Drive Head Crash

Since symptoms of a disk head crash can vary, diagnosing the problem can be challenging. An HDD head crash is a failure that results in physical damage. Therefore, look for any unusual noises coming from your hard drive. For instance, a whirring, screeching, or clicking sound from an HDD can indicate a head crash.

Modern hard drives have systems to minimize the damage due to a head crash. If you have a newer model, you won't be able to hear a thing. In other words, turning on your PC and not hearing the hard drive can be a symptom of a drive head crash. Does it mean that your data is lost forever? Let's find out.

Can You Recover Data After a Head Crash?

Modern hard drives have built-in protection from a disk head crash. The most common safeguard is there to minimize the physical damage and prevent data loss. It works simply: the drive tries to move the actuator heads to a location on a platter containing no data. This area on the platter is called a landing zone.

In most cases, the data is recoverable after an HDD head crash. To improve your chances of retrieving your data, you must know what to do after an HDD head crash and what hard disk head-crash data recovery methods you have.

What to Do After an HDD Head Crash

After a disk head crash occurs, the platters in your HDD can suffer damage. If you are under the impression that a head crush might have happened, take action to prevent any further damage. Here's what you can do.

Turn Off Your Device

Turn off your device if you suspect a disk head crash. Don't go for a standard "Shut down" procedure. Instead, simply disconnect the power. If you keep a head-crashed HDD on, you risk more physical damage.

Check for Symptoms

Take a piece of paper and write down all the symptoms you can remember. For instance, you might have noticed that your hard drive has suddenly slowed down, produced unusual noises, or exhibited unusual behavior.

Why are you making a list? If you fail to retrieve data, the symptoms you've written down may help a professional better diagnose a problem and perform an effective head crash hard drive recovery.

How To Recover Data From a Hard Disk Head Crash

You have two head crash hard drive recovery methods. You can try to fix the problem using a data recovery tool or outsource to a professional service provider.

Method 1: Use a Data Recovery Tool

You can use many tools to complete head crash hard drive recovery. A reliable solution with excellent features and a high data recovery success rate, like Wondershare Recoverit, can help you streamline this process and complete it even without technical knowledge. Should you try Wondershare Recoverit, here's what you need to do.

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  1. Download, install, and launch the head crash recovery software on your computer.
  2. Find your HDD with head crash in the right section of the screen and click it to start scanning for lost data.
    select the hard drive with head crash
  3. The files Wondershare Recoverit finds will show up in the results. You can pause or cancel the scan anytime by clicking the pause or stop button.
    start head crash hard drive recovery
  4. Select the files you wish to retrieve (tick the corresponding checkboxes) and click Recover to complete the process. To preview them before restoring, click Preview in the right sidebar.
    complete hard disk head crash data recovery
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Method 2: Reach Out to Professional Data Recovery Services

Finally, if you don't think you can handle head crash hard drive recovery yourself, you have a second option. Look for nearby professional data recovery service providers, contact them, and outsource hard disk head-crash data recovery to experts.


A hard drive head crash happens when actuator heads come in contact with the platters storing your data. It causes physical damage to the platters, potentially resulting in data loss. Fortunately, it's possible to complete hard disk head-crash data recovery.

Whether you do it yourself using top-notch data recovery tools like Wondershare Recoverit or outsource it to professional data recovery services, the chances are you will get your data back.

FAQs About Head Crash

  • What is an hard drive head crash?
    A hard drive head crash is a hard drive failure. It occurs when the actuator heads land on the platters. It may cause physical damage to the platters and result in data loss in the damaged sectors.
  • Why does hard drive head failure happen?
    A head crash in hard drives can happen for many reasons. For instance, an electronic issue can cause misalignment in the actuator heads. It can also result from a hard drive falling or hitting a firm surface.
  • What are the symptoms of a hard drive head crash?
    The most common symptoms of a hard drive head crash include strange noises like screeching, whirring, or a clicking sound. In other instances, the drive can remain utterly silent on device bootup or significantly slow down.
  • What can I do after an HDD head crash?
    If you suspect an HDD head crash has occurred, immediately disconnect the power from your device and write down all the symptoms you've noticed.
  • Is hard disk head-crash data recovery possible?
    Yes, you can recover data after a hard drive head crash using Wondershare Recoverit:
    1. Connect the affected hard drive to the computer.
    2. Download, install, and open Wondershare Recoverit on your computer.
    3. Find the hard drive with head crash from the list.
    4. Click Scan to begin scanning for recoverable data.
    5. Review and select the files you want to recover.
    6. Choose a different drive as the destination folder for recovered data.
    7. Click Recover to save the selected files to the destination folder.
Eleanor Reed
Eleanor Reed Jul 17, 24
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