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Broken, Bust or Inaccessible?!

Is your hard drive or phone broken, bust or just inaccessible?? Here are some of the latest questions asked of us regarding file recovery.

hard drive inaccessibleMy hard drive is currently inaccessible. It powers up but the data cannot be seen. I would like to recover it and install it on another hard drive. The drive is 4TB in size with around 350gb used. What is the cost of recovery?

My Acer aspire 5552 laptop has broke. First the mouse wouldn’t appear on screen then when restarted the screen is black. I was wondering if it is possible to rescue the files on the desk top? And if it can be done how much this may cost?

My mac book crashed on me while my western digital my passport ultra hard drive was attached and I had to force shut down my mac book and couldn’t eject my hard drive properly. when I plug my hard drive back into my mac book it is not found but when I plug it into a windows laptop it is found but wont mount up properly and i cant access it to retrieve my files.

My hard-drive crashed unexpectedly and won’t boot

A compact flash card from a Nikon camera, Kingston 32GB ultimate 600X.
Holiday pictures. I have tried to read with both mac and pc both failed pc does not recognise card. I know the pictures are there as I looked at them with the camera before trying to download with the reader. I think the reader has damaged the pin holes.

Maxtor One touch. My PC does not “see” this device anymore. I recently moved the drive and PC, but the drive was working post-move for a couple of weeks.
There is no sound coming from the drive.
There is no indication/power light coming on either.
I have tried removing and re-inserting the data cable to the PC, but no result. I intend to bring the drive in on Monday. Can the data ( JPEGs) be recovered and transferred to another external hard drive if the Maxtor is unusable?

Seagate external hard drive not regognised in Windows need data of the drive. Hard drive shows light when plugged in but will not be recoginsed by computer.

Data Recovery Questions

Here’s a number of questions we’ve received about data recovery over the past week. The questions are about data retrieval from both phones and hard drives.

The phone was dropped into a pool. The phone has been taken to a phone shop to see if they could fix it but they couldn’t. would just like to recover the data.

Seagate (external USB) Expansion 2TB drive started making a clicking noise and not booting up. Works on occasion but only for a short period.

i’ve deleted all my pictures from my desktop computer and deleted them from the recycling bin can you get them back?

+I have 2x LaCie rugged thunderbolt with different issues. One was accidentally re-formatted from OS X Extended to ExFAT but has not been written to since so the data should still be there. The other was working fine, ejected and the mac shut down, then the next morning when the mac was turned on this drive failed to mount. It shows up in Disk Utility as an external drive but does not mount the volume (correct word?). Again this drive has had nothing written to since. Neither drive has been dropped or otherwise physically damaged. Please let me know what you might be able to do!

I have a vintage model of Macbook Pro 2009, and the hard drive on it had recently failed, and can no longer start up. Is it possible to recover the data from the hard drive? And can I please get an estimate quotation for that ?

A folder on my ssd drive has been wiped, the folder itself remains however the documents within it have vanished. The documents outside the folder also remain.

+I haven’t lost the data (i hope), but i believe i need the PCB repaired/replaced on a WD Red hdd. I stupidly plugged in an incorrect voltage power pack into the caddy of my WD MyCloud NAS (with 2 x 4tb WD RED drives in it) and now it isn’t recognising one of the drives. I assume I’ve burnt out a diode and i was wondering if this is something you could confirm and how much this type of repair might cost…or what i might have done?

If you have a similar problem that requires data recovery please contact us for details of our services.

Recommending Data Recovery

Question 1. “My daughters university laptop was dropped and damaged. It’s insured by PC world where we bought it. They repaired it but said the hard drive data was unrecoverable under our insurance deal. They said the hard drive had stopped spinning round. They recommended that we send it to their specialist who could recover the data. We paid £90 for this service and they’ve just got back to us and said they can only do it if we pay another £260. We are not happy with this. Can you recover data when the drive is no longer spinning? We want the data and photos but feel PC world are stitching us up majorly.”

Answer 1. I recommend that people always try and look for a ‘no recovery no fee’ service. This means that the specialist will look at your hard drive problem for free and then quote you a cost for data recovery. It’s then up to you to decide whether you want to have the specialist retrieve your data. Datlabs data recovery are a United Kingdom based data recovery specialist with branches in several places including London, Reading and Southampton. I checked with them and they offer the no recovery no fee service I mentioned earlier.

A generic SSD hard driveQuestion 2. “I’ve got an SSD hard drive which my computer cannot recognise. I have tried it in other computers but had the same issue. I think it had some photos on it that I would like to access (although not 100% sure). It’s a new SSD and think it’s 80gb or 120gb. I would be grateful if you would provide a quote for trying to recover any data.”

Answer 2. Can you tell me a little more about the problem? SSD hard drives have no moving parts which mean that they are more robust and break less frequently than the other spinning type of hard drive. However, they have their own unique problems. Here’s a very informative article from SSD recovery specialists Data Clinic about Samsung SSDs, http://www.dataclinic.co.uk/samsung-evo-840-ssd-faults-beware/, have a look at it, it will help you get the data recovered.

Question 3: “I can’t find the data on my external hard disk. I think it had been accidentally deleted. The hard disk is in perfect working condition my an entire folder is not there anymore. How much would it cost me to have the data back?”

Answer 3: Deleted data recovery jobs are either easy or hard. Never anything in between. First of all, the obvious question: have you checked the trash/recycle bin? – Your data may well still be in there. If not then recovery usually depends on how long ago the data was deleted. Usually the longer the time the smaller the chance of recovery. However if the machine has been turned off or used little since the data was deleted there is a good chance that it’ll still be on the disk and be retrievable. Please contact me for further advice

That’s all folks – thanks for reading. The next instalment will be ready soon.

Case Study: Manchester Mortgages

manchester mortgages web siteThis month I was called out to Manchester Mortgages (http://manchestermortgages.co.uk/), a mortgage brokers based in Eccles, Manchester who had lost access to some of their data.

Background

Manchester Mortgages provide advice and assistance to people requiring mortgages for buy-to-let, remortgage and people with poor credit amongst others. Much of the information they hold is stored on an Access database and for one reason of another they held no backup of this data.

File Won’t Open

When attempting to open the file by double clicking it the computer hung and the file would not open. Analysis of the hard drive showed that the drive had many bad sectors – including bad sectors inside the Access database.

Bad sectors on a hard drive are areas that can’t be read due to the drive degrading to such an extent that the hard drive is unable to read the data from the bad sector. Bad sectors are rarely single isolated occurances – hard drives usually have hundreds or even thousands of bad sectors. Modern hard drives have effective management and control systems that detect bad sectors on a hard drive and swap them out, replacing them with a good sector from a pool of good sectors they keep in reserve. Eventually the pool of good sectors dry up and the bad sectors then spread across the hard drive.

Recovering the File

Recovering a file affected by bad sectors is a difficult thing to do. By double clicking the file, the computer attempts to open the file but it can’t because it can’t read the information from the bad sector. Rather than give up, the hard drive tries repeatedly to read the data from the bad sector. This places a high amount of stress on the hard drive’s head which will eventually lead to a head crash and all the data on the hard drive being lost.

Therefore the only course of action is to use a hardware approach that turns the error checking off and also circumvents the operating system. Fortunately I have this piece of hardware in my equipment, and hooking the Manchester Mortgages hard drive up to it I was able to recover their file fully.

Backup

This case study is a fine example of why it’s essential that we all backup our valuable data. A study has shown that 70% of businesses go bust within a year of a major data loss event (http://www.capitalnetworks.co.uk/news/2010/07/21/70-of-businesses-that-experience-a-major-data-loss-go-out-of-business/). Manchester Mortgages had most of their data stored in one file. If I had been unable to recover this data that may well have been the end of the business.

Water Damaged Hard Drive

Here’s an interesting recent question that was submitted to me from a couple of days back:

Hitachi H2T500854S HDD“We are a computer maintenance company. We have a Laptop on behalf of a customer with a water affected Hard drive. The drive is a Hitachi 2.5” P/N H2T500854S SATA. We have cleaned the liquid from the PCB and drive body but it still appears dead and will not spin up. Our customer has asked us to obtain a budget quote for Data recovery so would be grateful if you could give us a rough estimate for you guys to do this.”

As you’ve already cleaned the drive up and dried it out, my instinct is that the drive has a faulty component on it’s PCB. This is actually very common, particularly if the laptop computer was on at the time water was spilt on it. When the water encountered the PCB the effect would have been a short circuit across the hard drive’s PCB with a very high probability that one or more components on the board will have been damaged.

Finding a compatible hard drive PCB is what you need to do, but replacing the existing PCB with the replacement one will not result in the hard drive giving up it’s data. The hard drive will start to work again insomuch as it will power up, but it will now tick. This is because the hard drive is running with the wrong roadmap. It’s necessary to copy the data across from the ROM on the old PCB across to the new one before the drive will be fully restored and the data can again be accessed.

Sourcing the PCB will be difficult enough – it’s not just a case of finding the same model hard drive and using it’s controller board. Hard drive models are manufactured in tens of thousands, and each production run is slightly different – components change which change the overall configuration of the hard drive. Therefore you need to find a match as close to the manufactured date of your hard drive as you can. This way you have a much better chance of ensuring that the components used on the two hard drives are the same.

About the Dark Web

Everyone knows that the Man has a darker side to his personality. Every man has a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde inside him. Depending on the situation, the inner personality makes its appearance. It is quite natural. The beauty of the situation is that one does not know what the other does. Just as the Man has a negative side, everything created by Man too should exhibit a dual personality. If I say, the Internet has a darker side to it, I doubt if anyone of you would believe it. Yes, the internet has a darker, negative trait. You know it by the name, Dark Web obviously.

The Dark Web:

In fact, the Dark Web is the World Wide Web content existing on darknets or overlays. They use the same public internet, but require specific software and configurations to run. They require an authorization for accessing. The best part of this dark web is that the Search Engines do not index them. Many people confuse the word ‘Deep Web’ with the Dark Web. The Dark Web is actually a collection of websites that are publicly visible. However, you will not be able to access the IP addresses of the servers that run them.

The Dark Web can include small networks such as friend-to-friend or the peer-to-peer network. They include bigger networks such as the Freenet, I2P, as well as the Tor. Public organizations and individuals operate these networks. The users of the Dark Web refer to the normal internet network as the Clearnet. People also have a different name for the Tor network. That is onionland.

Who accesses the dark web?

Any web user can visit the Dark websites. However, it would be difficult to know who is behind these websites. All the websites on the Dark Web use the Tor encryption tool. Hence, to access the Dark Web, the user should also be using the Tor tool. People use Tor to hide their identity and spoof their location too. The user’s IP address bounces through several layers of encryption and hence appears as another IP address.

Naturally, people who do nefarious activities access the Dark Web. At the same time, the crime investigating agencies access the Dark Web for obvious reasons. The most famous and popular Dark website is the Silk Road. This is a website for buying as well as selling recreational drugs.

Data Recovery London and Manchester

I’ve recently been asked for some advice regarding retrieving the files from two broken hard drives.

– I live in London and I have a Mac drive that no longer mounts. i have photos that I would like to recover. The drive has been removed and appears to spin fine but the os doesn’t pick it up. It is a WD Passport Ultra and was fine 2 weeks ago, then suddenly started running very slowly. Are you able to copy the data onto another drive?

– I also have an external hard drive at my Manchester location (Bolton). It is turning on when I plug it into my Mac, but it makes a funny noise and is unable to connect. I have some files on there that I need. If I come in, how long will it take for you to fix the problem and if you can retrieve the files and do I need to bring in another hard drive or can you drop box them to me?

LondonBefore I can fix a broken hard drive that doesn’t mount and a hard drive that is making a funny noise, I need to be able to correctly diagnose the problem that the drive has. Trying to diagnose the problem with a hard drive is difficult at best when it’s not possible to see the hard drive and the only source of information is email. Therefore rather than speculate and perhaps get the hard drive diagnosis totally wrong, I agree with what you suggest in your question, if you can bring your harddrives into a local lab they can be inspected by a recovery engineer who should be able to detect what the fault with the drives is and provide a price for recovering the data for you. A popular company in the United Kingdom who do a lot of hard drive recovery work is Data Clinic – they have recovery labs around England including in London and Manchester. For a complete list of their locations go here: http://www.dataclinic.co.uk/dataclinic-locations/.

Although you haven’t described your second hard drive in great detail, your first hard drive, a Western Digital (WD) Passport Ultra is a popular hard drive that many people have. For experience I have discovered that quite a few of the faults with this hard drive are of a serious enough nature to require a data recovery company. What I am saying here is don’t be tempted into either trying to fix the hard drive yourself or taking to a friend or colleague who purports to know a bit about computers. I have discovered hard drives and the subject of data recovery to be a in-depth issue, requiring a lot of knowledge and experience to be able to provide even a semi-decent data recovery service. The last thing you want to do is place a broken hard drive in the hands of a well meaning friend or colleague who hasn’t the slightest idea about how to retrieve the data. This is the very reason data recovery companies exist – they are specialist service providers with expert knowledge in how to rescue the data from broken hard drives.

Questions About Hard Disks

data recovery advice and tipsAt a recent Question and Answer session on the Data Recovery Tips (http://data-recovery-tips.co.uk/) web site we had a surprisingly high level of interest from people with broken hard disks. Questions came from the UK, USA and from as far afield as Bahrain. All the questions had a central theme – the hard disks were either totally broken or nearly broken.

– I’d like to ask a question about my HD. I’ve mistakenly erased whole content (text,pdf, pictures, installation files, videos, music ets.) by formatting it. I’ve formatted it while using Mac (Yosemite 10.10.5) but the HD was an external 500GB ñ NTFS. Would you be able to recover my whole content ? If so, how much would it cost ?

– My Apple Macbook 2010 has died, the screen is broken and keyboard is broken, the laptop turns on and does the start up ‘chime’ noise but shuts down after a few seconds. I’m just hoping to get all of my data retrieved from it as I will be buying a new laptop.

– The computer went off and started making a bleeping noise, whenever I switched it off and back on again it was asking for the re-boot disk which unfortunately is missing. I have taken it to Maplin Computer repair and they gave advised the hard drive is not working and are replacing in my laptop. I want to extract most if the data (especially family photos and videos) from the dtivebif possible and would like a quote to complete this please

– Western Digital Passport (USB3). Firstly showed errors relating to bad sectors when accessing data. Now when plugging into windows drive appears but has no statistics, who clicking onto the drive windows hangs.

– I cloned my wife’s Win8.1 onto an ssd and then forgot to backup the 2 months worth of files that she had created before upgrading her PC to Win 10. Unusually this process seems to have destroyed the file structure on the ssd which now shows up as RAW in the disk manager. Can you reclaim the files created since 26/11/15 and then format the drive ready for me to try the clone and upgrade again?

– I have a sea gate EDD which is not spinning when I fire it up. I lost the original power supply and got a replacement, that might be the cause but it does make a low whine when connected so I’m thinking that is stuck in some way. I’m in Glasgow on Tuesday so will drop it off if that’s okay?

– I have a WD external hard drive that has stopped working ñ when I plug it into a computer (and I’ve tried two different computers) it tells me that I need to format the disc, and that will erase all data on the disc. Are you able to help me get the data off it?

As you can see, I received a broad range or questions. I’m can fix all the above problems provided the data still resides on the hard drives and has not been overwritten. In some of the above cases it’s not possible to tell if the data still resides on the hard drive or not until I actually see the storage device. Apart from overwritting, the only time when the data would no longer exist would be if the medium holding the data (the disk platter for HDDs and the memory chips for SSDs) have been smashed or broken.

Retrieving CCTV Images

One of the more complex parts of data recovery is when dealing with CCTV systems that record to hard drive(s). Because there is no one standard recording technique, manufacturers of CCTV equipment create their own recording platforms, otherwise known as CODECs. Each different model of CCTV recorder will use a different CODEC, and each manufacturer produces many different models of CCTV DVR (Digital Video Recorder), hence there are literally many thousands of CODECs. If you haven’t got the right CODEC then you’re in trouble as you won’t be able to playback the recorded images. (Find out more about CODECs at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Codec).

A 4 disk CCTV system

This 4 disk Samsung CCTV DVR system is a typical example of a commonly used CCTV recorder.

Recovering CCTV information from DVRs gets even more complex when you appreciate that many DVRs now use RAID technology in their setups because they use more that one hard drive (see picture). So, when there is a fault related to the disks in a DVR, not only does the fault have to be repaired, the RAID level has to be emulated and the correct CODEC used before the data can be extracted.

CCTV data recovery is a challenging business and English specialists like Data Clinic (http://www.dataclinic.co.uk/cctv-data-recovery/) recover the pictures from many CCTV systems each year. CCTVs recorders often contain deleted data that companies or organisations such as the police need to recover. Sometimes the footage recovered is used in court cases – this is a branch known as CCTV computer forensics. Find out more information here: http://www.dataclinic.co.uk/computer-data-forensics/.

 

Direct to Disk Recording

Direct to disk recordingDirect to disk recording was a common method of recording music in use up until the invention of recording to magnetic tape in the 1940’s. Direct recording to disk involved cutting a master disk direct as the artist played the music.

This meant that no overdubs were possible and that any mistakes the musicians made would stay on the recording as editing was not possible – it literally was a one take performance.

The introduction of magnetic tape meant it became possible to edit recordings retrospectively by ‘taping over’ parts of the performance when required. Les Paul’s invention of the multitrack recorder (more here) dividing the recording tape into bands allowing various instruments to be recorded to a band without any interference from any other instrument. This made it possible to re-re-record certain instrument parts where necessary without affecting the other parts of the recording. Magnetic tape recording was seen as a great leap forward but was no without it’s detractors who claimed that the introduction of tape caused a loss of clarity in the quality of recording.

These days most recording is done digitally – magnetic tapes have been replaced by hard disks that store the recorded music in digital form. Tapes have not died out however, and there is a strong belief that digital recording lacks the “warmth” of music recorded to magnetic tape. You can try this for yourself by listening to and comparing the same piece of music from a CD and then from vinyl.