Disk drive damage - University of Southampton fire data recovery
The severest heat damage was caused to the part of the disk drive that was closest to the fire
Following a severe fire at one of Southampton University’s buildings, Kroll Ontrack was brought in to help recover as much critical data as possible from the damaged hardware. The University, together with a salvage team, identified the hard drives that were likely to have valuable information stored on them – mostly R&D data from long term project work by PhD students – and sent them for analysis and recovery in Kroll Ontrack’s data recovery lab in Epsom, Surrey.
Robert Winter, Chief Engineer at Kroll Ontrack, led the recovery of around 70 hard drives, and worked with his team to prioritise the recovery effort according to the drives that contained the most critical data. The engineers made an exact copy of each disk drive, extracted the users’ files, copied them to a CD or another hard drive, and then returned these to the University.
Sixty percent of hard drives were suffering from smoke damage. The remaining drives were heat and smoke damaged, which proved more difficult to recover from since the electronic components had melted. Heat had also damaged the rotating disk in some of the hard drives, which caused them to buckle, and rendered those drives irrecoverable.
In total, 90 percent of the data on the examined drives were successfully recovered.