I accidentally placed a magnetic mount antenna near my hard drive while my computer was running.

It then made horrible noises, and stopped working, and everything froze.

Now, every time I start my system up, it makes the noise, and does not recognise any hard drive what so ever.

I am going to take it into the apple store, I have apple care, but what do you think the chances are of me being able to recover files from the drive? Do you think stuff got smashed around in there when it did that?

5 Answers 5


Step 1: Stop doing anything with the computer. Anything you do will likely make the situation worse.

Step 2: How much is the data worth to you?

It sounds like your drive had a mechanical failure. In this case, your best bet for recovery is to send it off to a professional data-recovery company. This will cost you about a thousand dollars, and they probably won't be able to recover everything.

If your data isn't worth a thousand dollars, you can play around with the drive. Try running the computer in different orientations (on its side, upside-down, etc) in case the bearings work better when loaded differently. Try sticking the hard drive in the freezer (in a bag to keep moisture from condensing) for a few hours to see if differential thermal expansion frees things up. Try rotating the drive rapidly around the spindle axis to free the bearings manually. But keep in mind that the most likely outcome of doing all this is the total destruction of the drive and all data on it.


You are likely doomed. The store gurus will go over data recovery options and explain they don't fix damaged drives, they are simply going to ask about the status of your backup and whether you want them to test the operation and see if it needs to be exchanged under warranty / AppleCare.

Some things to try on dead and near dead drives include putting them on their end or sides rather than having them oriented flat - this is because the read/write heads that sit between the actual disc platters may respond better then they are held vertically by gravity rather than horizontally by their precision engineering which sounds like it;s been compromised. Give it a go, see if it sounds any better (assuming you are not using an iMac where they are are already mounted this way).

Sorry to be the bearer of bad news.

  • 1
    If it's a hdd, it's doomed for 100%
    – Rob
    Commented May 25, 2014 at 19:24

you DO have a backup of your data? (I hope). I would contact Drive Savers. I doubt if Apple can recover your data, but Drive Savers might be able too. You best bet would be to get a new drive and restore from your backup.

  • Yeah, the backups about a month old, just one file that I can deal without, but would be nice if I could get it.
    – Skyler 440
    Commented May 25, 2014 at 19:27

assuming the magnet was powerful enough to mess up the actuator magnet (my guess as to what happened), then the data on the plates is probably beyond messed up. just a guess. move on with your life ;p


as for the sideways comment, you do realize the magnetic attraction of the head to the plate is about 10,000 times stronger than that, right ;o and in fact, by operating a drive sideways you are indeed causing a small bit of uneven force, as in, less force required for the head to move down that up. although again, doesn't real make a real-world difference.


Chance is very little, like 5%. But it would probably recover only a few bits. Try to back up data every time. Or buy a SSD, they are fast and reliable.

  • 1
    SSD are less recoverable than magnetic storage and more costly if you send them in for data recovery. Do you have a source for SSD being more reliable than HDD on recent Mac hardware?
    – bmike
    Commented May 28, 2014 at 23:01

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