Buffalo Hard Drive Dropped
I have a Buffalo HD-LXU3 external hard drive (I think 2TB) that was unfortunately dropped whilst moving house. It now simply doesn’t turn on.
Roughly how much would it cost to recover the data from the drive? Do you still charge if recovery is unsuccessful?
Uh-oh, dropping a hard drive is never a good thing, and moving house is a time when many things are dropped and broken. If the whole unit doesn’t power on as you say then perhaps the power supply is damaged. If this is correct, then all you need to do is remove the hard drive from its case and attach it directly to a computer via a SATA-to-USB cable. If the hard drive is working you’ll then be able to read the data from the hard drive. If this doesn’t work then your external hard drive has a more severe problem and you will need to get in touch with a data recovery company. Some data recovery places do not charge if they are not able to recover your data. Other will charge a small handling fee which covers their costs whilst others will charge the whole amount whether or not they can recover your data.
Nokia 925 Phone Freeze
My Nokia 925 stopped backing up my data many months ago when it updated its software. The phone started getting really hot whenever I plugged it into my car charger, and eventually the phone would freeze, especially if I was used a navigation app. The only way to get it to start again was with a soft restart. The battery seemed to hold less and less charge. One day I attached it to my computer to try to back it up, the computer recognized it for about 5 seconds, then the phone went off and has never come back on again, even though the windows icon flashes when it is plugged in. I brought it to a cell phone repair shop, and they tried to put in a new battery, but the phone still won’t start and when the new battery is plugged in the windows icon won’t even flash.
Although the Nokia 925 Lumia was released about 3 years ago, it is well supported. My advice would be to seek out a phone recovery company and see if they can help to retrieve the data. Phone data recovery is a specialist form of data recovery, which is primarily for recovering the data from computer hard drives. Not all data recovery companies can rescue the information from phones though so be sure to check with them before you send your phone in.
Seagate No Longer Detected
My Seagate Backup Plus Slim 1TB drive is no longer detected by Windows after it was knocked onto the floor. Can hear a beeping sound follow by no spinning noise. Windows detects the drive in Device Management but not in explorer or Drive Management. No computer can get the drive to appear in Explorer. There should be no less than 300GB of data on the drive.
It’s not surprising that your Seagate drive is no longer detected. The beeping noise tells me that the drive is being physically prevented from spinning as a result of it being knocked to the floor. Stiction or a broken motor are the things that could prevent the hard drive spinning. It’s not important to find out which of these problems your hard drive has. Both problems are sufficiently complicated that they require a data recovery company to sort them out if retrieving the data is important.
The people at Data Clinic were kind enough to recently restore the data from an external hard drive of mine that I’d dropped. Rather that charge me for their work they asked me to write a blog post about their local data recovery offices, so what I’ve done is to contact each Data Clinic office and ask them for some locally submitted questions about hard drive recovery. I’ve picked one per office so you can read typical questions about the types of faults people have on hard drives and phones.
External hard drive (Seagate Backup Slim Plus 2TB) dropped. Beeping sound audible when plugged into USB port. However, device not recognised by disk management. Tried different cables and PCs. I want to retrieve the data from the drive. Would like a data recovery quote and noticed you are based in Liverpool. I travel daily into the centre of Liverpool from Aigburth, (i actually live on Aigburth Road) so it’s quite convenient.
I think someone has either dropped or pulled out my hard drive without ejecting properly. I thing its a mechanical failure as when plugged in it makes a buzzing noise then does nothing. I have tried it in several computers and no have recognised them. I am based in Wythenshawe in Manchester and can drive to your offices in Bury Manchester could you take a look at my hard drive while I wait?
WD 3TB hard drive, dropped, drive engages, lights active. Does not connect to computer or appear in device manager. Seeking quote for repair, however most likely I see you have a data recovery lab in Sheffield (http://www.dataclinic.co.uk/data-recovery-sheffield/), so therefore seeking clarification of costs and process? Assuming own replacement hard drive will need to be purchased before recovery can occur. I can all in at your Sheffield office tomorrow and leave the hard disk with you. I am in Chesterfield an know where the Portergate is so it should only take me about 20 minutes to get there.
Hard drive in my MacBook Pro (c.2012) stopped working (Grey screen with flashing file with ? in it). Had the hard drive replaced, but then technician had a problem transferring data from my old hard drive to the new one. I took it to another technician and he couldn’t access the data. I think both places have clicked on ‘repair drive’ and there haven’t seemed to be any problems with the hard drive itself, but I still cannot access the data. Could you have a look at the hard drive and see if you can access the data and transfer it to my computer’s new hard drive? I have so many photos/videos that mean a lot to me on that hard drive and I would love them back. I am near your Lombard store in London and can drop the hard drive in to you around 5.45 this evening? I am intending to catch the Tube to Bank and then proceed to Lombard Street on foot.
I have a fairly old WD external drive which has stopped connecting to my computer. I have tried it on a number of computers and with a number of USB cables but it is still not being recognised. I work near London Bridge not far from your Lombard Street Recovery Office.
Hard drive contained/s over 33k of music files, photos, software and more. Drive was recently disconnected from my PC (Windows XP, SP3) and connected to a TV to watch a large movie file. Upon reconnection to the PC, the hard drive fails to appear upon connection and displays no files. I have tried to use ‘EaseUS Data Recovery‘ software, but my PC lacks processing power and raised a .virtual memory’ issue before halting the recovery process. I need a quote and timeline for diagnostics and recovery support…
I sent the drive away to be recovered, but where my home PC found 5 million files/data packets, the company found 80k, and the majority of them were unknown file formats. I asked the company not to complete an extraction as I was told to contact your data recovery centre in Northampton</>. Is it in the centre of Northampton? I am quite close on Moulton and also drive to Kettering too.
I am waiting for the drive to be returned from Wales, do you think you can help? I am keen to recover the music and the photos/memories.
My laptop hard drive broke down and has since been fixed, however I have lost all of the data and would like it to be restored. As my son lives in Sparkhill I took it a Birmingham data recovery company who reported “Unfortunately on this occasion it has not been possible to recover data from the failed hard disk drive. Today the HDD was opened and the platters were examined. There is obvious physical damage to the platter.”
Deleted all photos from Samsung Galaxy (thought they were all backed up on google cloud but they weren’t). I haven’t take any new photos since so I’m hoping I will still be able to recover them? Also, my iphone frezeed after I switched it off start getting very hot after 30min cooled down, since that is dead. Apple said thay can replace the phone but I will loose all my pictures and videos is any chance to retrive all my data about 45GB. I live in Edinburgh’s Exchange district but work near your hard drive recovery centre in Glasgow – is it ok for me to call in? If so, what time do your Woodside Place offices open?
On Mon 19 Sep, factory data reset was accidently invoked on my Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge (64 GB) and when restarted I had lost all my data including Photos. Using online available tools I attempted self recovery of files but can only get my list of Contacts back. My phone is unlocked and rooted with SuperSU. Developer Options set to ON and USB debugging is selected.
Model: Samsung Galaxy 6 Edge 64GMy phone is unlocked and rooted with SuperSU. Developer Options set to ON and USB debugging is selected.
Model: Samsung Galaxy 6 Edge (64GB)
Model Number: SM-G925V
Android Version: 5.0.2
Build No. LRX22G.G295VVRU1AOC3
I wish to recover as many family photos/videos as possible from the phone. I live quite locally in Pudsey, West Yorkshire and if I get the phone to your Leeds data recovery office on Gelderd Road would you be able to look at it and retrieve the data for me please?
Recently we received an interesting hard drive recovery enquiry from Alice who works for a well known Manchester finance / broker advisor. She was in a bit of a panic as her computer had developed a problem and her files (that contained a lot of information about how to get a mortgage in Manchester) were no longer visible. These file were Alice’s work so it was vitally important that we got them back for her.
Additionally, most of Alice’s life was contained on this hard disk and before she sent it in to us for recovery she want assurance that we’d be able to rescue her files. Alice had recently taken out a large mortgage and as the broker had provided such as good service to her she also wanted to pass the details of this company along to her friends and colleagues. This information was also saved to her hard drive. We collected the computer from her home.
After assessing the problem (we diagnosed the computer as having a hard disk fault as described on http://computersciencelabs.com/hard_drive_bad_sectors), we were able to tell Alice we were confident and assured her that her life was safe and we would be able to complete the recovery of her files.
The file recovery took the best part of two days to complete and after this her mortgage information files were accessible again. We had been successful in recovering her information and her job and life were now assured.
I asked Alice what was more difficult, getting a mortgage or getting data off of a broken hard drive. She assured me that getting a mortgage doesn’t need to be all that difficult, you just need to find a decent mortgage advisor or broker. There are several of these in Manchester, including the firm that I’ve linked to high up this in this article. Like getting a mortgage, hard drive recovery doesn’t need to be difficult either, but it can be if you choose the wrong company to use. Computer Science Labs were able to retrieve Alice’s mortgage files but this may not have been true if we’d have taken her computer somewhere else to have the contents recovered.
So whether you are looking for a mortgage or hard drive recovery in the manchester region always make sure you choose a good a reputable suppler who is assured to complete the job.
There follows a hard drive recovery question and answer post containing some of the questions I’ve received from my Recover Deleted Data data recovery site.
- Help I need a hard drive recovery service: It’s a Seagate Expansion drive, which is still in warranty (July 2015). When connected to a laptop, it has power, but it doesn’t mount and the disks don’t spin. When first connected it makes short buzzing sounds for a few seconds and then stops.
- A buzzing sound coming from a hard drive when it is powered up suggest to me that the hard drive has a serious problem. Either the motor that rotate the platters has seized, or (more likely) the hard drive has stiction. Stiction is where the read heads of the hard drive become stuck to the platter and prevent the hard drive from rotating. This is caused by static friction, thus the term “stiction”. Stiction can be difficult to deal with as it is essential to free the heads of the hard drive before the platter will start rotating again. This can destroy the heads of the hard drive meaning that new heads then have to be fitted to the hard drive before the data can be read. You can expect to pay between £500 and £800 for a data recovery service such as this.
- Computer won’t recognise external hard drive. Western digital WD2500XMS-00. Looking to diagnose problem, and or recover data. Hard Drive spins up then makes a clunking sound. Sometimes it is recognised in Windows, but mostly not.The Hard Drive was used as an external drive and has no Operating System installed on it.
- A clunking sound indicates that the hard drive has a mechanical fault, meaning that replacement parts are necessary before it will be possible to rescue the files from the drive. This is quite a severe hard drive fault and I recommend that you seek out a specialist data recovery company to recover the data for you. Don’t attempt to do this yourself, and steer well clear from computer shops in your town centre as they won’t have the experience or the tools necessary to perform this job.
These are just two problems with hard drives – there are of course many others, I chose these one’s as they are quite common. If you do have an issue with your hard drive have a look at the Recover Deleted Data web site as it does have some useful information and links to appropriate service providers.
I am from the Gurdon Institute in Cambridge and had been recommended by Nigel to contact you about data recovery from a HDD. In brief I have a Bufferlo DriveStation HD-LUX3 (3TB) and it had these symptoms leading me to believe that the partition table is corrupt with potential hardware problems.
1) can be powered on, disk spinning inside.
2) windows 10 initially can detect a USB device but partition is RAW
3) recovery software (e.g. TestDisk) can detect HDD with correct capacity (3000GB) and can initially detect the partition details with seemingly correct folder structure, but after trying to fix the partition, the partition data was subsequently lost and I don’t feel safe doing a deep scan if there are some deteriorating hardware problems.
Could you give me some quotes as to what levels of recovery this problem possibly needs? Furthermore how much would it cost for you to do an evaluation on the drive?
An example from London
Hard drive failure,came up as imminent failure and just reboots,all i need is my photo,s and documents nothing else,can be no more than 5gb.
The HDD was used in Media Player, it worked, but the Media Player might just been broken over time. I tried to connect it with a WD MyBook case, but when I plug it through USB in a Windows/ Linux/ MacOSx, it hears that it rotates inside, but no drive is available to access. It is a WD-Green 1TB, SATA / 64MB Cache, manufactured in 2010. Can you check it out/ potentially recommend a rack or case that I can use in order to access the files from it?
Our hard disk has been damaged by a mobile phone being dropped into the laptop. The drive has been put into a docking station, but it makes a clicking noise& could not be read. I believe the mechanism is broken. Is there a way to get the data off it? We are based in London, England.
An example from Birmingham
Western Digital Green 2TB drive – fails to be detected in windows any longer. This is a secondary drive (not boot drive) with many personal files and photos which are not backed up, hence the importance for me. The drive was detected intermittently in the last 24 hours but I have been unable to copy many of the files already, with errors when i tried to copy many files at a time. I am close to some data recovery specialists and I live in Guildford, but work between Birmingham and Northamptonshire so it is important to know if you can make specific collection arrangements. Please confirm if you can assist, price, timescales and process. many thanks in advance.
Samsung Hard Disk Failure in Leeds
Leeds business with a Samsung S2 portable 500GB external hard-drive that was dropped on the floor and has since has malfunctioned.
When plugged in it makes a whirring sound up to speed then clicks, stops, and repeats the process. I suspect the internal arm to be misaligned or broken, but can’t be sure and am not willing to risk playing DIY technician with backup hard-drive. E-mail preferred as communication, phone signal here is fickle.
Water Spilt on Laptop
I spilt an almost full glass of water on my work’s laptop. It worked initially for a brief period, minus the display, but very quickly failed and now it won’t even turn on. Completely dead.
The laptop is owned by the company I work for and I have to take it to my company’s head office in Bedford tomorrow for them to attempt to recover the data, although I don’t hold out much hope. A lot of files I use are on the company’s SharePoint site which isn’t an issue as they are backed up, but I had a lot of recent files stored on my Desktop and a few in My Documents which weren’t backed up anywhere else.
My company is unlikely to fund any external data recovery at all (as I’ve found from asking other people who have had similar experiences within the company), so I would have to fund this myself. I’m supposed to be going on A/L on Friday and have absolutely no time to redo all the work I’ve lost, so I need to see whether me paying myself for external data recovery is affordable. Please could you give me an idea as to cost and the speed of recovery? Ideally I would need a 24 hour turnaround.
Can Not Connect To External Hard Drive
I cannot connect/see my external portable hard drive (WD 1tb) in my computer. It is flashing so it is doing something. My device manager is recognising it, just not the explorer. I recall dropping it from about knee high height to the floor, I suspect this may have damaged it.
Stop Press: This news article about unrecognised and slow Samsung SSD hard drives has just appeared on Facebook
WD Elements Stopped Working
My WB elements 500GD stopped working and needs to be reset. I need, however, the data that is on the hard disk. How much would it cost to recover and would I be able to use the hard disk afterwards?
Faults on 2 Nokia Phones
I have two old Nokia phones that were both water damaged. Both have sentimental photos on them that unfortunately were not downloaded. Can they be retrieved. One phone completely dead, the other lights up when charged but unresponsive
Getting the data off a broken phone
I am looking to get my Xiaomi Mi 4C mobile phone repaired. It suffered significant damage following a drop at high speed.
The phone will not turn on at all just by pressing power button but the screen activates when I connect the charging cable. Then it shows company logo (MI) flashing repeatedly on screen but won’t boot up. It will enter fastboot.
The case burst open upon impact and the battery has was dislodged and detached itself from the connector. I have not been able to reconnect it properly.
Other than being able to use the phone again, the main reason I need it repaired is to recover photos from internal memory.
Failing a repair being possible, or if such a repair would mean wiping the flash memory i.e. deleting photos on phone, then would you be able to recover the photos from the phone memory for me?
The UK phone recovery company Data Clinic have a good reputation for rescuing the data from phones that have broken. I suggest you take a look at the services they offer and contact them if you think they’ll be able to help you. The company’s main page for phone recoveries is at http://www.dataclinic.co.uk/data-recovery-from-mobile-devices-phones-tablets-etc/.
As I write this, I’ve just had another phone enquiry, this time for a Samsung Galaxy: Samsung Galaxy express 2 (SM-G3815).
Phone won’t turn on and would like the photos recovered, is this possible please.
Getting the data off a broken hard drive
My hard drive is damaged and the local shop said they cannot recover data from the disk. There are some very important photos and office documents that I want to recover. Could you please call me back with an estimate.
I have a broken hard drive with important photos on it. I’d like to get my photos extracted and given to me by 19/6/16
Hi. I reset my partners laptop and didn’t back up the pictures. Its a windows 10 laptop and I did a full reset. She is devastated as they were of our son. I know the chances are slim but would it be possible to rescue the pictures at all
None of the above enquiries contain any information about location so I’m going to point you towards this UK data recovery company that have locations around the UK. Handling all types of hard drive they will be able to find out what the problem is with the hard drives and provide a price for the recovery of data from them.
Today I was asked:
My external hard drive (Seagte P/N 9SD2A2-500 S/N 2GH3Y02K) was not connecting to my computer as the USB connection in the drive had become loose. I tried to fix this by taking the cover off the drive, but in doing this, the USB connection point has come off totally. The rest of the hard drive is intact and the USB connection point is currently attached to the end of the USB cable. Is it possible to fix this to recover the data on the hard drive? If so, how much will this cost?
These hard drives have caused a number of similar problems all due to the USB connection port not being as stable as it should be. I’ve been inundated with queries like this from people with the same predicament.
My advice is to avoid soldering the connection yourself. Why? Because in doing so you’ll destroy the components located around the USB connection by the heat of the soldering gun. You need to special low temperature soldering station to perform this type of work correctly. To retrieve the data from a drive with this fault I advise you use a data recovery company.
USB connections actually on the motherboards of hard drives are quite new. They are a difficultly for data recovery companies also as a USB interface does not allow and low level firmware interactive like a SATA port does, and so, data recovery companies will usually have to substitute the USB interface for a SATA one just to be able to communicate with the hard drive.
For the costs of this type of data recovery, I estimate you’d get a decent service for between £350 and £500.
My computer repair company was recently called out to a bicycle company in Bolton, Greater Manchester whose computer server had crashed. After inspecting the system we decided that the job was too complex for us attempt and instead we recommended the services of UK RAID experts Data Clinic.
Initially it looked like there was one failed drive in the companies file server. The drive was in external unit comprising of 12 hard drives grouped together using RAID 5. This is the companies main file server which handles the files of some 15 or so staff arose two locations – Manchester and London. I think a power surge occurred as 3 machines in the office were visibly affected (we had to reboot them all) and the RAID server which crashed and wouldn’t boot up correctly from this point. Upon inspection, one of the hard drives in the system was offline and we though that this could be the reason why the server had gone offline. The IT team removed the drive to test it in PC & powers on & appears to try twice then powers down. At this stage would like to know rough / likely cost on recovery.
After diagnosis it’s clear that the disk obviously has a serious error. I define ‘serious’ as any error where the hard drive is no longer being detected by the computer. Hard drives in this condition do not have logical problems as logical problems do not prevent a hard drive being detected in the computer. It’s therefore a good a sensible idea to recognise that the hard drive has a serious problem that is beyond many companies abilities to repair. Allow yourself the best chance of data recovery and find a RAID recovery specialist like Data Clinic UK to retrieve the data, their RAID recovery services page is at http://www.dataclinic.co.uk/raid-data-recovery/. They have an office in Bury that covers Greater Manchester and includes Bolton. Opening hours are 8am through til 6pm and their phone number os 0161 761 0620.
Another issue I have with a broken hard drive is as follows: I dropped a ‘WD My Passport Ultra 2TB’ external hard drive and now there is a repetitive click sound when it is plugged into my laptop and it will not mount on my desktop. I’m interested in fixing the hard drive so that it will mount or recovering the data and moving it to a different hard drive. I would also classify this type of problem as being serious too. Recovering the data would likely involve taking the drive apart and removing the damaged parts before rebuilding the drive and hoping it all works again. Again this is something that my computer repair company would not attempt, and would rather leave to a skilled data recovery company.
In this post I’ve printed a question that was sent to me by someone with a broken hard drive who needs the data recovering.
Question: “I have a 1tb Seagate external HDD which overnight started beeping and clicking and is now not visible from Windows. Ihave disconnected and reconnected power but it beeps and then powers down. The drive contains data I need recovering and I am seeking quotes for repair. Internet searches indicate that Seagate drives may have power issues or it could be a drive fault. Can you advise on a possible cost?”
Answer: Unfortunately the fault you have on your Seagate hard drive is nothing to do with power issues. The key issue you describe is that the hard drive started beeping and clicking. This tells me the you disk has developed a problem with it’s r/w heads, and this is confirmed by your observation that the drive is no longer visible in Windows.
A r/w head fault is a significant failure in a hard drive and means that the data can no longer be read from the hard drive. This operation is one of the processes performed when the hard drive functions and the failure is the reason why the hard drive is no longer visible in Windows. To develop that, the hard drive would not be visible in any operating system and in fact will not be visible in the computer’s BIOS (see an explanation of ‘BIOS’ at http://whatis.techtarget.com/definition/BIOS-basic-input-output-system).
Repair of the hard drive is possible but this type of repair is beyond the capabilities of most data recovery services. This is because in order to repair a hard drive with a r/w head fault it’s necessary to strip the hard drive down to component level and swap out the broken heads. This is a very complex task, which relies on identical spare parts having to be found from a ‘donor’ hard drive that must be an exact match of the broken one.
Once the faulty r/w heads from the broken drive have been removed and replaced with working ones the whole hard drive then needs to be re-assembled and recalibrated. Even if this operation is a total success the hard drive will only work at 30% of it’s original performance at best. This is because the transplant operation is so difficult that most un- or low- skilled data recovery companies will have zero success in repairing hard drives with any type of r/w head failure.
When I began my data recovery career back in 2005 I went on several good data recovery training courses. The best we run by a company called Computer Science Labs who provided a basic grounding in the types of problems hard drives have and then provided hands-on training about how to understand the issues and recover the data. It was probably one of the best training courses I’ve ever been on and was vital in developing my career in data recovery.
Maintaining the security patches on Windows desktops and servers is vital to prevent any unpatched operating system or application software vulnerabilities from being exploited by a virus, worm, or Trojan horse. One of the most common reasons that Windows machines are compromised is that vulnerabilities have not been patched, even though the fix was made available weeks or months prior.
If your system contains vulnerabilities that have not been patched, your system can be exploited and files will be compromised and saved to the hard disk. There is very little protection that can be applied to the hard drive itself and once code is written to the drive the hard disk is infected.
In a corporate infrastructure, it is wise to test patches before pushing them out to your production servers and workstations. If something goes wrong, you’ll detect it on your test machines and you can contact Microsoft and report the issue. Chances are that the problem is already known and a solution is right around the corner.
Updating Security Patches on a Windows 2000 Server
1. Click Start > Windows Update (Note: If you are using Windows XP, Windows Update wont be immediately available in the menu list. You can open Internet Explorer, click Tools, and then click Windows Update. The default location for Windows Update is Start > All Programs > Windows Update (located near the top of the menu).
2. When Windows Update opens, if you computer has not had the latest version of Windows Update installed, you will see a Security Warning box appear. Click Yes
3. When the offer appears to download the new version of the software, click Install Now
4. When offered, click the Express button
5. After it installs, Windows Update will scan your computer and search for the latest updates. When they are presented, click Install Updates
6. The Windows Updater will ask you to verify that you want to download and install the updates. Click Install Updates (you may be required to accept the EULA too)
7. When all the updates have been installed click Restart Now when prompted.
8. Once the system has rebooted, log on to the server.
Problems?If the update process did not complete successfully your computer will be in a vulnerable position. Incomplete updates are usually caused by some sort of error on the computer’s hard drive, and we recommend you seek professional assistance.
As if once wasn’t enough I’ve just had to deal with another computer problem…
As readers of my blog will know, I work all over the UK and when this problem occurred I found myself in Birmingham. After my last computer problem experience with the data port working loose on my hard drive (see my previous post), this time I had an ageing Windows XP computer and its power unit failed. Rather than spend money on a repair, I removed its two Seagate 160GB hard drives which had been working perfectly and scrapped the rest. I bought a HDD docking station with USB connection into a new computer to retrieve the data but my new computer failed to recognise the existence of one drive and for the other it displayed a message that the drive must be reformatted! before it could be used!
Being in Birmingham I decided to look up my old friends at Data Clinic Birmingham who have previously helped me out with a hard drive that had become unresponsive with all my data saved on it.
Before I went along to see them I made a little bet with myself: I reckoned I’d diagnose what the faults with the drives were first and then see if what I thought matched their diagnoses. For the Seagate disk that was needing reformatting my guess was that I had a corruption of data, perhaps in the filesystem. I thought this because the hard drive was working fine, the problem came when the Windows were trying to read it.
For the second hard drive, I went for a firmware fault. Why? well as while ago Seagate drives had a firmware problem on their 7200.11 hard drives and my drive was a 7200.11 disk, so I thought it a logically assumption.
Well was I right? Well, I was totally wrong on the firmware fault issue. It wasn’t a firmware problem, rather it was a broken PCB. The guys at Data Clinic fitted a spare and my drive came back to life along with the data on it. For the other Seagate disk, I was sort of write – there was indeed a corruption, specifically of something called the Master File Table (known as the ‘MFT’) which keeps a record of the location of the files on a hard drive. When the MFT becomes scrambled the data can not be accessed anymore and Windows wants to format the disk. I learned that it’s possible to repair the MFT and this was done and my data was retrieved. For more information about the MFT check out this Microsoft link https://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/windows/desktop/aa365230%28v=vs.85%29.aspx
Like many of us from time to time, I’ve had a couple of computer problems lately. I’ve written this post about one of them – I’d be interested to hear your comments too!
One Tuesday last month, whilst I was packing my portable computer and hard drive up to leave work, I accidentally knocked the usb cable connected from my external hard drive and it caused the port to become loose. The model of HD is: WD Elements 2TB external hard drive and on opening up the drive it turned out I’d snapped off the USB port from the circuit board.
So, this put me in a bit of a tailspin. Rather than save my work to my computer’s hard drive, I tend to save everything to my external hard drive. You may think this is daft but the main reason I do this is because I commute between Birmingham, Leeds and London and rather than haul my main desktop computer with me, I instead use the computers at whatever location I am going to be at. Having the data stored on my external hard drive means I can use it on whatever computer I am sat at regardless of location.
The better solution would be that back everything up to the cloud but the reason I don’t is because I’m a videographer and I file of the data files I use is huge – often hundreds of megabytes, with some mastered video projects running into Terabytes. Streaming this from the cloud is too slow and therefore using this method of data storage is extremely slow.
Anyway, having lost the connection on my hard drive I needed to find someone who could fix it back in place so I could begin to use my data again. An internet search revealed several options, first up on my list of people to call were Emergency RAID Data Recovery who were very friendly and pointed out that they were more involved in rescuing information from failed server systems rather than fixing parts back on hard drives, before pointing me in the direction of Datlabs Data Recovery. When I spoke to Datlabs they were able to confirm that the problem I had was an unusual but fixable one. I asked the million dollar question: “Is my data going to be safe?” and they assured me it would.
The problem with my hard drive was not related the the data, it was an electronic fault that fortunately meant my data was not under threat. With that I was able to breathe a sign of relief knowing that my data was going to be ok and my hard disk would be fixed.
A number of common mistakes can arise during computer forensic investigation. The first and most frequent of these is the failure to maintain the proper documentation. The creation and maintenance of the documentation is both tedious and demanding, which is why this is one of the most common mistakes. Another is the inadvertent modification of data by opening files on the original evidence
Just opening a file from a computer’s hard drive to look at the contents results in the time stamps of the file being changed. This may hinder subsequent investigation or result in the evidence being rendered unusable. Another is the destruction of potential evidence as a result of the installation of software on the evidence media. The writing of software to the memory of the digital device or to a disk may result in evidence that was stored there, but not protected, being overwritten.
While all of these mistakes may appear to be avoidable, there are times in some investigations where it is necessary to open a file on the original evidence before it has been copied or to install software in order to recover more evidence. This is particularly true of investigations into large networked systems that can not be isolated or easily turned off. When it is necessary to carry out such actions, it is essential they be recorded together with the reason such actions were taken.
Another common mistake made is failing to adequately control access to the digital evidence and maintain the chain of custody. When this occurs, it is almost impossible to proved the evidence has not been compromised.
Yet another instance is a failure by the investigator to know when they have reached the limits of their knowledge and to ask for assistance. We all like to think we are experts in our field, but in the area of digital forensics, the subject is now so vast and complex it is not possible for one person to have the necessary level of knowledge in all it’s relevant areas. Once the investigator exceeds their area of expertise, any evidence they recover will b of questionable value and may be challenged in the courts.
It’s important to break the goal down into achievable, logical steps that flow from one and other. When breaking down goals in steps, it’s critical to get as much useful information as possible about the problem as the more information we have, better and more achievable our goal will be. Say for example that my goal is to retrieve a document file from my unresponsive hard disk – the steps I need to come up with solve the goal. This can be described as follows:
Goal: Retrieve document from unresponsive hard disk
Step to achieve goal:
1. Diagnose problem with disk
2. Work out how to solve the problem
3. Implement the repair
4. Retrieve document
Now let’s break this procedure down even further and supply some more information:
- Western Digital HDD hard drive
- Still recognised by the computer
- Computer unable to access drive’s data area
These three pieces of information provide crucial information to aid our decision making process, but the piece of information you may consider to be the most crucial (that the drive is a Western Digital) is actually the least useful. All hard drive use the same architecture, so Seagate, Western Digital and Toshiba hard drives all use similar components and work on the same principles.
The first piece of useful information is that the hard drive type is an HDD rather than an SSD. This tells us that the architecture of the drive is the old mechanical type rather than that based on solid state (SSD) memory. This means the drive has moving parts and is susceptible to mechanical damage.
Despite this being the case, we are able to rule of the possibility of mechanical failure as the hard drive is still recognised by the computer. This is because HDD type hard drives that have mechanical faults are not recognised by the computer because the hard drive is unable to communicate with the computer to identify itself.
Moreover, by ruling out what the problem isn’t it becomes easier to identify what the problem is. If the problem is not mechanical, the what else could it be? Well, the problem is not electrical either because again, the hard drive is still being recognised. Any electrical device that relies on power will not work if that power source is not working. Therefore we can also rule out the possibility of electrical problems.
It’s at this point that we need to take a close look at the “unresponsive” nature of the fault. If we look at it closer, the hard drive isn’t unresponsive at all, it’s just unresponsive to the computer. So what could the problem be?
The symptoms point to bad sectors – parts of the hard drive that become unresponsive and it’s at this point that a data recovery service is required. I’ve used the company Data Clinic as an example, as they are one of the best and well know companies in the United Kingdom to use to retrieve documents from unresponsive hard drives.
Sometimes you don’t actually need to use the services of a company like Data Clinic, and can repair the hard drive yourself, but situations like this are few – usually the only time you can progress with a ‘DIY’ approach is when there isn’t anything wrong with your hard drive. “Hang on…”, I hear you say, “If there’s nothing wrong with my hard drive why would I need a data recovery service?”. Well, sometimes the cause of the problem is a data or file system error – such as those caused by a virus or an unsuccessful software install – both these situations can be fixed by the “DIY” approach – see this page as a great example of example hard disk problems and issues that are commonly found.
So, armed with the above information you will now hopefully be fully equipped to sort out your unresponsive hard drive, if you are still stuck why not contact me for further advice?
Most budget CCTV systems comprise of one or more cameras that connect to a Digital Video Recorder box. Housed inside the DVR are one or more hard drives onto which the data is recorded.
The video images are often recorded in a compressed form in order to save storage space on the hard drives. Because CCTV recorders are saving data almost continuously, large amounts of storage space are needed in order to hold all the data.
To keep costs down and save on the amount of storage space required, DVRs can be programmed to hold data for a specific number of days, after which they loop back to the beginning of the recording and start to overwrite data. So, as an example, a DVR system that is set to only hold the last 7 days of data will do just that, and when it gets to day 8, this will be overwriting the data from day 1 etc etc.
The Recovery of CCTV Images
I am often asked if it is possible to recover data from CCTV systems where the hard drive’s data has been overwritten, so for example, is it possible to get data back from days 8 or further in the past? The answer, is usually no, but sometimes yes – it entirely depends how the data has been recorded on the hard drive. Samsung CCTV systems for example, record their data differently to Panasonic CCTV systems, and different approaches are used to rescue the images from both.
The old adage is “buy cheap and you buy twice” meaning that if you decide to buy something that is cheap the first time, you’ll end up buying something more expensive to replace it because the cheap item you bought first time round doesn’t do the job.
Software that is offered for free is often unfinished or is someone’s pet project and is rarely road tested or complete. It may do one or two specific things well, but it will rarely do everything well. Worse still it may harm your system.
Free software will often have other software (sometimes malware) bundled with it. Sometimes the malware is what the writers of the software actually want installed on your machine and then data recovery software is just a shell that is used as a sweetener to persuade you to buy the software.
An fine example of when to avoid free software is when considering anti virus programs. If you are a Windows user then an anti virus program is essential. Virus writers know this and they frequently hijack av programs and infect them with their own new virus before uploading the code to the internet for people to download. Another area is free data recovery software. Writers know that people usually panic if they loose data and will go online to search for an anti virus program. Making a free data recovery program available that is also booby trapped with their malware or virus is also a great vehicle to get their software downloaded and infecting machines.
Avoid Free Software
Using av and data recovery software that actually costs money rather than being free is a good idea as it gives piece of mind and reassurance. You know that buy paying for the software you are supporting it’s writers, who will in turn continue to support their software, updating it freely and making sure it works correctly on the latest platforms.
Sometimes data recovery software won’t be able to help you retrieve data. This is when you need to contact the likes of a data recovery services company, examples are http://www.datlabs.co.uk, http://harddriveman.com/
Data Clinic Ltd, the British data recovery specialists have updated their Seagate data recovery page with quite a significant amount of new information – see http://www.dataclinic.co.uk/seagate-data-recovery/
Over the last twelve months, Seagate have added extensively to their product lists and now offer hard drives built to suit particular needs such as NAS, server and CCTV hard drives. They’ve also gone heavily into the manufacture of SSD and hybrid drives – with many aimed at computer gamers.
Hard drives are often the Achilles Heel of many computer systems. Other components in computers can break, screens can fail, keyboards can stop typing and printers can fail. All these devices can be easily replaced but if there is an error with a hard drive then it’s the data on it that is at risk, data which if it hasn’t been backed up any where, or a data recovery company can’t retrieve, will be lost forever.