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Data Recovery Projects

Toshiba DT01ACA100 From Business Server

Business Server Crash

As a business owner I understand how important it is to have your server up and running properly. From internal wiki’s to customer databases to inventory control, your business requires the data on the server more and more these days. Your entire business can grind to a halt when a drive fails, causing a loss of important revenue as well as a lot of stress.

This drive came from a client that owned a business where their server went down and they were told by a local computer repair shop that the drive was the issue. The computer repair shop was not able to recover the data and recommended us to attempt a data recovery as backups were not available for some of the data.

Recovering the data from the server

The server drive was a Toshiba 1TB DT01ACA100 model from 2017. The first step was to inspect the drive for any heads issues or platter damage. The heads looked good and were reading properly so it was on to the next steps!

All the drives that have internal parts testing good get certain functions turned off before imaging begins. For instance, there is a function of the drive to list what sectors are bad on the drive so they are not used in the future. If there are many bad sectors this can cause issues during the imaging, so this feature is turned off for the imaging process.

Setting Drive Recovery Parameters

During the first imaging pass I noted there were some areas of the drive that had many sectors that were not reading as quickly as they should. Setting the imager to skip these areas allowed imaging of the rest of the “easily accessible” data quickly without stressing the drive.

Once all the easily accessible sectors were imaged (about 90% of the sectors), I set the parameters for the second pass to try a little harder (but only once) on the remaining sectors. This allowed me to get 9% more for a total of 99% of the sectors.

The final pass I set to multiple retries of every missed sector with a long read time. This will stress the drive but with only .1% left to recover it is important to get every sector possible at this stage.

The final tally was 99.999% of the drive recovered! The client was able to get all the server files they needed and got their server back up and running with the recovered server data.

I enjoy working on drives for other business owners as I understand first hand how important that data is.

If you need help getting the data from your server and would like a quote, please visit our quote page to fill out the form and I will get back to you ASAP.

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Data Recovery Projects

Accidentally Formatted Drive With Baby Pictures On It

This drive came in for a deleted file recovery. The client had accidentally formatted the drive and 2 other recovery shops had tried to get the data back but was not able to get usable data.

Formatting A Drive Accidentally

Formatting a drive with data on it is very similar to deleting the data. Most older style drives like this one don’t actually cover the data up when you delete it, so a lot of it can be recovered as long as the drive wasn’t used after the data was deleted.

The basic idea is that if you delete data from a drive, you are telling the computer that the space where that file was is available to use for a new file. If no new files are put on the drive, then in theory the data will still be there and be able to be recovered. If you continue to use the drive, the data you deleted will be covered up by new data. Even a small file added to a drive can cover up a bunch of pieces of the files you deleted and make them corrupt to the point of not working anymore.

It is imperative that if you need to recover data from a drive that was accidentally formatted that you stop using the drive right away. Power it down and unplug it from your computer until the recovery software can be run on it.

Recovering Data From A Formatted Drive

The Formatted Drive Was Working Properly And In Good Condition.

The best thing to do when recovering any drive is to image the drive first fully using an imager that will make an exact copy onto another drive (even imaging the “empty” space that includes the deleted files). Then you run recovery software on that image so you aren’t interacting with the actual media that needs recovered.

A super common mistake I see is someone downloading software to run on the external drive, then selecting the same external drive to store any files that were found during the recovery. This effectively can cover up the files you are trying to recover, so always use a different drive to recover the data onto.

In this case a couple shops tried to recover the needed data (baby pictures and videos), but were not able to recover the data wanted. I ran scans with my data recovery software tools and was able to get all the data he was looking for!

Returning pictures and videos that are irreplaceable to someone who thought they lost them is one of my favorite parts of data recovery. If you would like my help recovering data that was accidentally deleted, please contact me and I will guide you through the process!

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Exploring Our Hometown

Sedgwick County Zoo – Wichita

Our family often ventures out of Hutch to our neighboring city, Wichita, to visit the Sedgwick County Zoo. Occasionally, if data recovery business requires a trip down to Wichita, as it often does, the whole family will tag along for some fun. We make it a point to take advantage of the bigger city. There are more restaurants and attractions than in our small town, so day trips to Wichita are always worth the drive.

Wichita is less than an hour drive from where we live in Hutchinson. One of our favorite attractions to visit is the Sedgwick County Zoo for it’s hours of entertainment. The kids love walking freely through the maze of exotic wildlife. There are beautiful, scenic views with lush green landscapes and gardens. We often compare it to the Los Angeles Zoo and admire it for its abundant shade, variety of exotic and farm animals, and it’s minimal crowds.

Petting Zoo

Our kids love the interactive petting zoo with various breeds of farm animals. They especially enjoy the young goats because of their undeniable cuteness, and would love to add a few to their own backyard full of family chickens. If I’m being honest, backyard goats does have a nice ring to it.

Memorable Moments

Since we are regular attendees of the Zoo in Wichita, we didn’t experience all there is to see during this visit. Frequent trips means that there isn’t such pressure to hurry through all 250 acres. That is no easy feat with three little boys. Regardless, there are always some memorable moments worth documenting.

Funnily enough, one of the kid’s favorite spots in the whole Zoo, crawling with mountain lions and Norwegian Dwarf goats, is the children’s playground. It seems to be where all of the children at the zoo congregate – with all of the screaming and abundant energy that make playgrounds great. Considering that the boys usually scope out every park for the nearest climbing tree, their colorful playground full of laughing, exited children must be very agreeable.

The giraffes and prairie dogs always draw us in for a fair amount of time. Both are easily visible to the onlookers despite their huge difference in size. This trip however, the Grizzly Bear stole the show. We loved watching him strut around the woodland scenery and the boys cried out the the sight of his enormous claws.

Bison And Some Favorites

Some of our favorites at the Sedgwick County Zoo on this particular day where the Bison and their calf, the reptiles, and the wolves. A majestic Bald Eagle gave a peal call at the sight of us, a loud high pitched cry, that fascinated all of us! A note on bison: Kansas has the nation’s fifth-largest bison population, yet most of the bison or buffalo roam private land and state parks. As bison are considered “near threatened,” it was nice to a bison calf in Wichita.

Our usual favorites are the friendly otters, the adorable penguins, and the flamingos. Our youngest boy, Oscar, observed the otters for a considerable amount of time. One would assume by watching the boy and the otter together that they were actually playing. It was a wonderful sight. We also love the orangutan exhibit, and just marvel at the apes but we’ll have to be sure to pay them a visit next time we’re in Wichita.

We love turning family trips, and even family business, into not only an educational experience for the kiddos, but a satisfying scenic walk for the adults, too. The Sedgwick County Zoo right next door in Wichita, KS never disappoints.

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Data Recovery Projects

Toshiba MQ01UBD100 Recovery With USB Port Built In

USB on Board vs SATA

In 2003 SATA was introduced. Since then almost all drives have had a SATA interface. Most data recovery tools are designed to connect through the SATA connector, and every step of the recovery process usually involves plugging the computer in utilizing the SATA connector.

Up until recently when you purchased a USB external drive, you were getting a SATA drive inside an enclosure that had a board converting the SATA connection to a USB connection. If you had a drive you wanted to upgrade or swap out for any reason, it was easy to just open the enclosure and put in a new standard SATA drive.

Recently most major drive manufactures have started building the USB port directly onto the drive for their external hard drive offerings. This means that there is no longer a standard SATA port on the drive, but rather a USB 3 port is there instead.

Data Recovery For USB Drives

There are some recovery tools that are designed to interface with the drives through the USB port, but some of the more advanced data recovery techniques still require a SATA connection. In cases like this one of the first steps in the data recovery process is to find a donor board that is compatible with the drive but has a SATA port on it instead of a USB port. Finding a compatible board can be difficult, but after a few years I do have most of them ready for use.

The process of switching the USB board for a SATA board can be a little time consuming, so these recoveries will fall under our Standard+ fee at least.

Successful USB Drive Data Recovery!

This particular drive I did have to swap the USB board out for a SATA board during the recovery and was able to get 100% of the data from the drive.

Do you need a USB drive recovered? I am happy to help! Just click the button below to start the recovery process or to ask any questions.

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Data Recovery Projects

Buffalo Link Station NAS RAID from Wichita

This music server Buffalo Link Station drive had two hard drives inside. They were working together in RAID 0 which means half the data was on one drive, and half the data was on the other drive.

For those keeping score at home, these were Samsung HD103UJ 1TB Drives. The drives themselves did not seem to be the issue as much as a problem with the Buffalo RAID controller.

RAID 0

I remember when I first heard about RAID 0, I thought it filled up the first drive until it was full, then started using the second drive. Or maybe one file would be put on one drive, and another file on the second drive. But this is not how RAID 0 works.

Stripe Info

Basically the controller of the RAID (in this case the Buffalo controller) is set with certain settings that dictate how much data goes on each drive. One of the easiest ways to think of it is the book analogy. With a small stripe, one word of the book may go on one drive, then the next word goes on the second drive. Or perhaps with a larger stripe, an entire paragraph would go on one drive, while the next would go on the other drive.

Most stripe sizes aren’t large enough for entire files to be stored on one drive, so usually each drive is holding pieces of the data that is needed to make one file.

Performance and Volume Size

There are two main reasons for RAID 0: Speed and Volume Size.

Speed

The main reason for using RAID 0 is usually speed. With half the data on one drive and half the data on the other, the drive could theoretically go twice as fast. If each drive can read at 10mb per second, then with two drives in RAID 0 you could read 20mb per second of data.

Volume Size

The second reason for using RAID 0 is to combine two drives into one large volume. This can be very helpful when dealing with a lot of media or a large project. Having all your asset files and data in one volume can make it easier to stay organized.

The problem with RAID 0

The issue with RAID 0 is that the chance of having a failure is higher than with a single drive. If either of the drives fail, it takes down the entire volume. There are other types of RAIDs that build in redundancy, but not RAID 0.

Recovering the data from the RAID

In this case, the 2 physical drives tested good and I was able to image them without great difficulty. It seems the controller malfunctioned or there was a power loss that corrupted the partition information.

Rebuilding the RAID

Once all the drives are fully imaged, the next step is to figure out what the settings were on the RAID controller. This will allow me to rebuild the RAID with software and pull the data from it.

Once the rebuild was the complete, the corruption in the data was bad enough that the XFS partition was damaged. In order to get back as much data as possible I used UFS explorer (a rather expensive but very powerful piece of data recovery software).

This allowed me to recover the data (over 1TB in all).

Because two drives were involved, the total for this standard RAID recovery was $329*2=$658.

If you would like me to work on recovering your data, I would be happy to help!

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Data Recovery Projects

Seagate Rosewood Drive with Stuck Heads on Platter

This Seagate Rosewood drive was dropped and stopped working. The noise that was reported to be coming from the drive sounded like a stuck head (beeping in this case was reported).

Stuck Heads

Normally the heads inside a hard drive sit in an area called the “parking ramp”. Then when the drive starts to spin the heads move over the platters and begin to read. If the heads don’t move over to the proper area during the shutdown process, they can become stuck on the platters service. One of the common causes of stuck heads is the drive being dropped.

The process for recovering a drive with stuck heads is to open the drive in a clean room, and use a specially made tool that separates the heads from the platter. Then swap the heads completely with a donor set, and recover the data.

The risk when heads get stuck is that they can cause damage to the platter itself. Except for the parking area, the platter is not designed to come into contact with the heads. Normally the heads float above the platter as the platter spins at over 5000 revolutions per minute. If the heads come into contact with the platter the chance of scratching is high.

Recovering Data From Seagate with Stuck Head

In this case the head was so stuck on the platter, then instead of lifting off with the head assembly, the head literally stuck to the platter! In this case there were no scratches on the platters from the heads getting stuck, and I was able to get the head off the platter without causing any additional scratches.

Once the old head assembly was removed, I installed a replacement head stack and completed all the work to get them working with the drive as they should. Imaging went smoothly and 100% of the sectors were recovered from this drive. The client seemed very please that all their important data was rescued from this dropped Seagate drive.

Data Recovery Successful!

This particular recovery took a few days to complete and get back to the client. The donor part was readily available on this one, but sometimes the wait time for donor parts can be a week or two. Due to needing internal parts replacement, this recovery fell under our Lab Restoration recovery tier.

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!

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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!

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Data Recovery Projects

Western Digital My Passport Deleted File Recovery

This was a perfect storm situation. This drive was connected to a computer with some important Excel files open. The My Passport drive was then physically disconnected without being ejected (and the Excel program was still open). When the drive was reconnected to the computer, the files were no longer visible on the drive.

A local repair shop attempted a deleted file scan and they found evidence of 2 of the important excel files, but they wouldn’t open and appeared to be corrupted. These 2 files were of no use to the client.

Recovering the deleted files from the My Passport drive

The first step is always to image the drive with the important data on it, so that is what I completed first. In this case the drive tested good and there were no issues present, so the imaging went smoothly without a hitch.

Once the drive was 100% imaged, I ran recovery software set to search for excel files on the drive. It took a couple recovery programs to get all that was possible, but I was able to recover the important data for the client on this one!

Deleted file recovery is often described as “just run a recovery program and that is all you can possibly get”, but in my experience it does help to have multiple recovery programs setup correctly to get the best results.

I have found that there are certain recovery programs that are better at certain file types than others. I have also found that some recovery programs are better with certain formats that others. Take advantage of the years of data recovery experience I have by having me help you get your deleted files back.

Our deleted file recovery price is $99. If you would like me to help you recover your important data, please fill out our form and we will get back to you ASAP.

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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!

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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 the 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 out our contact form below. Thanks for reading!