System Area (SA) of a hard drive

The System Area is located on the magnetic platters of a hard drive. It is typically on the outside cylinder for a 3.5″ hard disk (big one) and on the inside cylinder for a 2.5″ hard drives. If this area is corrupted or have scratches your data recovery just became much more complicated or impossible. This is a very complex area.

If the SA of your hard drive is scratched or corrupted you can potentially avoid an expensive clean room full treatment by doing a live PCB swap.

When the SA can’t be read, the drive will make a typical clicking sound, but understand this can be due to different problems (4 to be accurate and a potential mix of those)

Database of clicking noises

Other name for the System Area

– Maintenance track

– Negative cylinder

– Reserved cylinder

– Calibration area

– Initilization area

– Disk ware

Inside the System Area you can find

– S.M.A.R.T.

– System Log

– Serial number
Located on the PCB for older drive. If you don’t see the serial number of your drive then the SA might be corrupted or scratched or the head cannot read it

– Model Number

– P and G list
They are tables of bad sectors of a hard drive.

– Firmware/Overlay code

– Hard Drive Specific Tables

– Zones Tables

– Servo parameters

– Factory Default tables

– Test Routines

– Recalibration Code routine-

– Translator data

– Security Data Passwords (Your passwords are stored here…)