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Data Recovery Projects

A Toshiba Recovery MQ01ABD075 750GB Laptop Drive

This Toshiba drive would spin up, but would not be recognized by any computer. When connected to the PC-3000 data recovery rig, the drive would ID itself but would not allow access to the data on the platters.

A likely firmware issue on this Toshiba recovery

This type of symptom is usually caused by a firmware issue on the drive. In this case the G-List had a lot of data present and could be corrupt. After clearing that firmware module I had access to the data on the platter! Doing a head test on the drive I could see that Head 2 was weak.

Imaging the data with a weak head

Now that the data on the platters was accessible, I began the process of imaging all the sectors from this failing drive to a good drive. Because Head 2 was weak and slow, I imaged all the other heads first. Each head is in charge of its own data on the platters, so if a head is weak or slow you can get all the other data first which is safer than stressing out a weak or slow head.

Once I had all the data possible from the other good heads, I started the imager on Head 4 using very gentle settings. After some tweaks to the imaging settings and a few passes I was able to get 99.9999% of the sectors on the drive.

Recovering the data

The catalog file was intact so I was able to see what data was on the drive and also see what files were part of the missing .0001%. The only missing files were in the system file area which has no user data! This is a best case scenario as it means all user data was recovered 100%.

This particular recovery took about 2 days to complete and get back to the client. It fell under our Standard recovery Tier and the client was happy to have their data back.

If you would like me to work on your recovery project, please feel free to contact us or fill our our contact form below. Thanks for reading!

Categories
Data Recovery Projects

A Cruzer Glide Recovery: 16GB with Broken USB Connector

Recovering Data from USB Thumb Drives

USB drives like this Cruzer Glide model are very convenient to store data on temporarily for easy access. Having a backup is always important, but especially when you are storing the data on these little USB guys. The standard ExFat or Fat32 format they usually come reformatted in is notorious for getting corrupted due to being unplugged without properly ejected or similar. But they are extremely convenient!

They are so convenient that sometimes you can even forget they are plugged into your laptop when putting it away, until you need to access the data and realize the USB connector has broken off completely in the bottom of your backpack. Or they are left in your pocket and take a ride on splash mountain with your clothes.

16GB Cruzer Glide Recovery

When looking at these USB thumb drives for recovery, the hope is that the data chip is intact and not cracked. When the data chip itself cracks, recovery is not possible. In this case, the 16GB Sandisk data chip was intact and the connector was the only physical issue!

After soldering the connector in place with some fresh solder, I always continue with the same process as any other drive: imaging first, then recovery software, then moving to a new drive. The imaging process completed without issue so the physical problems were remedied with the soldering.

In this case I didn’t notice any partition corruption or other software issue during the recovery software process; it was just the physical problem of the USB connector being broken off. 100% of the data was recovered!

This particular recovery took about a day to complete and get back to the client. It fell under our Standard recovery Tier and the client was happy with the results! It is a good feeling to get 100% of the data someone needs.

If you would like me to work on your recovery project, please feel free to contact us or fill our our contact form below. Thanks for reading!

Categories
Data Recovery Projects

1TB Laptop Samsung Drive Recovered Fully

I get a lot of clients that contact me to ask about my Lab Recovery service. Most have been told by another recovery professional that their drive requires a clean room in order to replace bad heads. In my experience only about 15-20% of drives that come in require a clean room recovery. Most are recoverable under our Standard or Standard+ tiers.

Samsung ST1000LM024 Recovery

This drive belonged to a client who has been working with another recovery company for a while. They had been told that a drive with the symptoms this drive had would need a “head swap” to function again.

Spin up, spin down drive symptom

When plugged into power, the drive would spin up, seek for a while (sounds like light clicking), then spin back down. It would not be recognized by any computer at all.

This Samsung drive came to me with 4 issues present:

  • Bad sectors
  • Weak heads
  • Firmware corruption
  • Partition corruption.

The two main issues were the bad sectors present on the drive and the weak heads. Often times bad sectors and weak heads will cause firmware corruption as well as partition corruption.

While it is true that bad heads do cause these same symptoms (spinning up, clicking, then spinning back down), there are many cases where the issue does not require a head swap and the data is recoverable under our normal Standard service.

Starting the recovery

I started by fixing the firmware corruption on the drive using my PC-3000 by Ace Labs. Once the firmware issue was addressed I was able to access the data on the drive and run tests on the drive heads.

This Samsung is an ST1000LM024 model has 4 heads inside. If you are interested in learning more about the internal parts of a drive like the drives heads, please visit out page, all about hard drives, to learn more.

I found during testing that 2 out of the 4 heads were weak so I started by imaging the 2 drive heads that were functioning properly. I was able to image 100% of these two heads which means I had 50% of the drive recovered.

Getting all the sectors imaged

Once that part of the recovery was complete, it was time to see how the weak heads would perform. I am able to set exactly how I want to extract data, so you start with settings that do not stress the weak heads and skip over areas where it seems to be having trouble. This part of the imaging can take a lot of time and a lot of tweaking the imaging settings.

In this case both of the weak heads were strong throughout most of the drive and I had recovered 90% of the drive without the heads acting up more. I was hoping the heads would continue to function enough to get the last 10% of the data so a head swap would not be necessary.

After a little more tweaking of imaging settings I was able to get every sector that was in use on the drive! Now that the sectors have all been imaged, it is time to check the integrity of the data stored on the drive.

Recreating the partition to recover folder structure

At first there was no partition present. This is pretty common with data recoveries because the drive usually starts having issues and causing corruption prior to stopping working all together. Once I scanned the first 10% of the drive with software that rebuilds the partition, all the folder structure was visible and looked good! 

Moving the data to a new drive and returning to client

Once the folder structure was present and files were opening properly, I moved all the data over to the new hard drive that the client had provided. Note that we do offer external hard drives for sale if you don’t want to provide your own, but we are happy to use a drive you provide to store the recovered data.

This recovery took just under 24 hours to complete and get back to the client. It fell under our Standard recovery Tier and the client seemed very happy to have saved a lot of money and time.

If you would like me to work on your recovery project, please feel free to contact us or fill our our contact form below. Thanks for reading!