Here you can see the mechanical parts inside a hard drive. The platters are visible along with the spindle they rotate around. You can also see the actuator mechanism and the read/write arm.

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Hard drives fail. It's a fact of life for anyone who uses a computer. If you store irreplaceable information on your hard drive, then a failure can be a catastrophe. But can you recover the family photos, work documents or financial data that you kept meaning to back up, but never did? There might be hope, so don't give up on that broken hard drive yet.

We're going to describe the warning signs of a hard drive failure, explain the internal parts of a hard drive and why they fail, and then we'll go through a few steps you can take to recover your data. While the files can't always be recovered, there's a chance you might be able to retrieve them.

Just remember one thing -- even if your files can be restored, it will take hours of frustrating effort and might cost you quite a bit of money, too. The best way to fix a dead hard drive is to send it in under warranty and replace it with your backup drive that has all your files safely stored on it. In fact, after reading this article, you'll find that a good back-up plan will keep you from ever experiencing the horrible feeling in the pit of your stomach when you realize that all of your files may be gone.