HDD Problems

Here are some of the problems we’ve been looking at lately in the Risc Group’s data recovery lab.

  • Seagate Momentus 60GB. Tried HDD in several machines, hard drive is requesting to be formatted and cannot be read by windows.
  • WD MyBook Live HDDI have a problem with my external USB hard drive. When I connect to my computer, the external hard drive turns on, but the computer doesn’t recognise it. The problem started when the USB connector got stuck inside the external hard drive. I had to carefully remove it. Then, my cable was broken so I used a different one, but my computer wouldn’t recognise the external hard drive anymore. I think the external hard drive is still functional, but the USB port is damaged. The brand is SAMSUNG. I hope that’s enough information to understand the problem. Thanks for your help in advance.
  • My external hard drive has suffered mechanical failure. It turns on but is no longer recognised by my computer. I have tried new leads and other computers but to no avail. I was wondering if I could get a quote to recover my photographs from this hard drive. It comes up in device manager but not my computer. Is it possible to get a quote?
  • Dropped Western Digital External Hard Drive. Won’t open up on computer but info still says there is data on the disc so hopeful it can be recovered.
  • We have a Toshiba Hard drive. It was dropped and now we can’t access the data. Could you tell me if it might be retrievable, a potential cost and details of what i need to do next.
  • I have a WD My Book Live 1TB network drive that doesn’t seem to boot up (seems bricked). I would to recover the files of it. I tried connecting to the SATA drive contained within it to a SATA dock that i have however that couldn’t read that files. What is the cost to fix the drive? Reading online it seems its a common issue with WD NAS drives.

All these listed hdd problems have one thing in common. The hard drives require the attentions of Risc Group’s data recovery team to rescue the files from the hard drives. The hdd’s with mechanical failure are the most serious and will require clean room, others will be more straightforward to recover.

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Recover Data Help

Lately the Risc team of IT specialists have been busy helping the people of Liverpool with their broken hard drives and requests to retrieve their data. When we haven’t been able to fix the faults in house we’ve used the data recovery services of Datlabs a UK hard drive expert company.

Here are some of the enquiries:

  1. I have an external hard disk that is not doing any strange noise but it does not open. I tryed to recover the files using the Get Data Back programme and they were “recover” but not correctly and are not opening. Can you please tell me If you can recover this files and how much would cost?
  2. data recovery from hard driveI have a Samsung M3 USB3 external drive with a broken socket due to forced entry of wrong plug. Is it possible to get this working again? If so how much will it cost? Model: HX-M101TCB/G
  3. 240gb laptop HDD not spinning up, just clicking. Tried in external enclosure but still the same issue.
  4. Im looking for parts to fix my drive. Wonder if you could help! Model: WD20NMVW – 11AV354 S/N: WX61A63P9780 DCM: HBMTJHKB
  5. Hello, my USB hard drive was formatted and wiped of all files some personal and some business. i need to recover image, audio and video files, i have tried software recovery myself however i have repeatedly ran into problems (my girlfriend unplugged it without thinking twice) as it has been a lengthy procedure i was hoping to get professional help rather than hope to be third time lucky. would this be a problem you could help with?
  6. Seagate 3 Tb external HDD. Connected Seagate to incorrect power supply. Will not connect to PC, no light or noise from the drive. No burning or smell evident. Control Board looks ok (no burnt bits).
  7. 32gb SSD suddenly shows up as no media. Need to know the price for recovery.

The Risc team recovered 5 of these jobs and used the services of Datlabs to access the hard drives of the jobs we couldn’t. All in all, a good performance, with all the data from all enquiries retrieved.

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Donor Parts for Samsung Hard Drive

In this post we look at restoring the information from a Samsung hard drive and locating a spare hard drive for a broken Seagate HDD that needs spare parts in order to repair the drive and rescue the data from it.

Samsung Drive Recovery

A 2Tb Samsung portable drive is spinning up (LED light is turning on) but is no longer being recognised by any computer. The drive did not suffer any obvious direct damage. I have attempted using a different USB cable and re-seating the drive with no success. Most of the data on the drive has been backed up, but some (e.g. original RAW files) is unique to this drive. I am located in Reading and wonder if you could point me in the direction of a data recovery company?

Samsung hard drive’s a very common and there are a lot of spare parts and fixes available for people who need to recover the data from them. In Reading you’ll find Datlabs – they are based in Forbury Square – see their web page here: http://www.datlabsdatarecovery.co.uk/data-recovery-reading. Give them a call on 0871 977 2999 and ask them to help you.

Looking for Donor Parts

A large part of data recovery is the sourcing and using of ‘donor’ hard drives, the parts from which are used to replace parts in other drives that have become faulty. Specialist companies that sell hard drive donors are Data Clinic and Donordrives. Just Google them if you want more information.

I am looking for a Seagate Desktop HDD 4000GB to use as a donor drive.
The ST number on my drive is ST4000DM001 and the date is: 15304. The PN is: 1FK17N-568 and the SN is W4J0DE01. It is an external hard drive with damaged heads.

Any type of head problem on a drive will require the data recovery company to use and clean room when performing the head change. Work like this is very involved and should only be attempted by skilled data recovery people.

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Macbook Pro Data Recovery

Apple Macbook ProI have a 2011 Apple MacBook Pro (model no. A1286)
For a few months the base of the laptop had been overheating. Then the fan started to make loud whirring noises. Last week when I switched on the laptop all I received was the Apple chime noise and a blank white screen.
I made an appointment at an Apple store Genius Bar where they told me that both the logic board and hard drive are damaged. They can replace these components but are unable to retrieve the data from the damaged hard drive and have advised me to contact data retrieval specialists with regards to this.
I wonder if there is any chance that that data can be retrieved and how much is it likely to cost?

With these questions I initiated an internet search. For those of you who have never searched for anything like this before, I can tell you that there is a lot of information out there. Some sites I visited were rubbish but there were some gems in the search results. One the best was the Johnny Foreigner blog at http://johnnyforeigner.jimdo.com/ which taught me what I need to know about recovery of data from MacBooks. I must also give an honourable mention to http://thursdaynightblues.com/ web site which accurately and understandably explained to me what data recovery actually is and how it worked.

I’ve recently built up rather a mistrust of the information given at the Genius Bars. I think Apple used to try and make sure the staff who were part of these bars at least received some training in troubleshooting Mac problems, now it just seems these are populated by spotty kids fresh out of high school who know practically nothing about fixing Macs – I wouldn’t trust anything they said about data recovery.

A few enquiries to UK data recovery companies Recover Deleted Data (http://www.recover-deleted-data.co.uk/) and Computer Science Labs (http://computersciencelabs.com/) gave me a cost of between £350 and £600 for a Macbook Pro data recovery service. But don’t take my work for it, shop around and see what prices you come up with.

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External Hard Drive Stopped Working

Here’s a question we received about and old hard drive that recently died.

Dead hard drive“My old (~10 years old) external hard drive stopped working recently. I have tried to open it and connect the hard disk direclty to my computer but it did not work. My hard disk didn’t even start spinning.
Could you please tell me how long and how much it would take to recover the data that are on it?
Here are the details of my hard drive, I am in Coventry:

  • Iomega UltraMax Desktop Hard Disk Drive
  • 500GB Capacity
  • Interface: FireWire 400 (1394a) • USB 2.0
  • 7200 rpm Spindle Speed
  • 8MB data buffer”

Actually the Iomega Ultramax is an external hard drive, rather than a desktop type hard drive. To attempt to remove confusion, ‘desktop’ hard drives are the devices that you find inside desktop computers – you don’t see them as they are inside the computer case. ‘External’ hard drives are those that are external to the computer and are usually connected to it by either a USB or Firewire cable. They are also called ‘portable’ or ‘usb’ or ‘firewire’ hard drives. So even though these external devices frequently sit on a desktop, they are not referred to as desktop drives. A good example of one of these drives is the Western Digital series of My Passport disks.

From the problems you describe above it actually doesn’t sound too bad a fault, and should be easily rectifiable. The key part of your description is where you explain that the hard disk didn’t even start spinning when it was directly connected to a computer. Although it may sound a minor point, it enables me to identify the you’ve most probably got a problem with the electronics on the hard drive, rather than the mechanics, firmware or data. Once a solution is found, the data should be fully retrievable. The best advice would be for you to contact an external hard drive recovery company who should be able to sort the problem out and retrieve the data from the hard drive for you.

Electrical problems on hard drives usually revolve around the circuit board. Although robust, these are easily damaged by power fluctuations and spikes which can destroy a controller board. Fitting a new controller board to the hard drive is often the first thing most of us think about doing, but this will not work as some of the components on the original controller board contain unique ‘adaptive data’ about the hard drive and also need to transplanted onto the new controller board before the hard drive will start to work properly again.

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Sites usually people visit on the Dark Web

People view illegal contents such as violence, arms, drugs, frauds, pornography, and other illicit websites over the Dark Web. You can come across several hackers too. In short, you would be able to encounter all the people doing illegal business in the Dark Web. You may come across terms such as ‘Red Room’ and so on. You have to be careful as every other website you visit could be waiting to pounce on your privacy and shredding it to pieces. You can find hackers galore on this Dark Web.

The Positive aspect of the Dark Web
You must have heard the adage, “Set a thief to catch a thief.” The Interpol as well as the UK’s National Crime Agency conducts various courses and training programs for its officers explaining the nuances of the Dark Web. You have to enter the web to catch the thief. Crime fighting agencies have benefited a lot by learning about the Dark Web.

Conclusion
You have seen a new aspect of the Internet today. Technically, it might be easy to enter the Dark Web. You have to remember that you will be groping in the dark searching for the bit of light to come out once you enter the Dark Web.

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Suspected $MFT Corruption

Question: My laptop computer wont recognize my 500gb external hard drive for some reason or another, after working fine for ages. I keep getting the message that i have to reformat my external hard drive before i can use it.after further investigation, it seems that my external hard drive has suddenly become a raw drive for some reason unknown to myself. The files i would need recovered would be mostly music ( mp3’s and albums ) quite a few photographs, and a lot of movies, which i’m not to bothered about. Would like to know what kind of moneys we are talking about to recover said files, if it’s going to be hundreds of pounds, please don’t get back in touch with me, as i’m not in a position to afford that kind of cash.

Answer: It sounds very much like your external hard drive has suffered some form of data corruption, specifically to the drive’s file system. The drive appearing as raw alongside an error message asking you to reformat the drive is a very big clue to a data corruption. Usually the files on the hard drive should be fine and will not have been damaged. Instead, once the corruption is sorted out the drive should start behaving again as it did before this incident. The corruption can easily be corrected using a hex editor (WinHex is a good example) and editing the hard drive’s Master File Table (MFT or $MFT) record.

There are many online examples of how to do this – see a good link to a Microsoft page at https://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/bb470206%28v=vs.85%29.aspx

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Legacy Storage: Floppy Drives

Floppy disksNewer floppy drives come with ribbon cables with a connector only at each end. Older drives have ribbons with three connectors, including one in the middle used to attach a second drive. If you are using such a cable, the end connector must be used for the primary drive. Unless you are working with fairly old hardware, this shouldn’t be a common issue. Also, with older drives and power supplies, it was possible to connect the power cable to the floppy drive upside down. This resulted in the floppy’s activity light being on constantly once power was restored to the computer. Modern floppy power connectors can be attached only one way.

Installing a floppy drive is not much different that installing a hard drive or CD drive except that the connectors are a bit different and no jumpers need to be set. Also, floppy drives typically slide into their bay from the front rather than being installed from inside. Occasionally you’ll need to configure the BIOS but this isn’t common.

The day of the floppy drive seems to be coming to an end. Once it is common for computers to boot from USB, there won’t be much use for floppies. Floppy disks can hold only a limited amount of data and are reliable for only short term storage. Their current primary purpose is as boot disks, but as was just mentioned, time is running out even for that role. Some PC’s and laptops are no longer manufactured with floppy drives.

That said, there are still plenty of people who use and are comfortable with floppy drives and disks, and most production environments haven’t provided 100% of their employees with ultra current, state of the art hardware. If you work in an average company, you’ll probably be living with computers with floppy drives for years to come.

Working with Floppy Drives
Much old material was saved to floppy drive and many companies and people have old archived data that they wrote to floppy disk. The disks are usually stored away for many years until curiosity or necessity means the data on them needs to be accessed. At this point, many users will get a nasty shock as they no longer that the hardware that can read the data from a floppy disk. Also, sometimes it is no longer possible to read the information from the floppy disk because over the years, the data has degraded to a point where it can no longer be ready. The answer is to use a data recovery company – these organisations keep a stock of legacy hardware and retain the knowledge of how to use it, sending them floppy disks to recover the data from is quite common. Take a look at blogs such as http://datareplayservices.com/, http://janschon.edublogs.org/ and http://frankcanon.blogbaker.com/ to find the names and locations of such organisations.

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Defragmenting (Defragging) A Hard Drive

Defragmentation dialogue boxInformation stored on hard drive using the Windows filesystem is prone to file fragmentation. As data is added to the drive, it is written sequentially on the drive’s platters; as information is accessed and edited however, parts of the file are moved out of sequence. This means that the read/write heads must travel to different parts of the hard drive to read a single file. Defragmenting the hard drives rewrites files so they are in sequential sectors positioned next to each other, and should be a regular maintenance task. Desktop and laptop machines should be defraged every two weeks or so, servers that are used much more heavily than PC’s should be ‘defragged’ on a weekly basis.

Linux Ext2 and Ext3 Filesytems

Both Ext2 and Ext3 filesystems rarely need to be defragmented as they do not write data sequentially but insterad write new data to a new area of the platter not near the other data. A hard drive with a Linux operating system writes to different points on the platters each time a new file is saved. The data is sufficiently spread out over the drive’s geometry so the drive only needs to be defragged when it becomes almost full.

How To Defrag A Hard Drive (Windows)

  1. Start > My Computer
  2. Right click the drive to defrag
  3. Select Properties
  4. The local disk properties box opens. Click the Tools tab
  5. Click the Defragment Now button
  6. Click Analyze – When the analysis dialog box opens, click Defragment and the process will begin. This may take a long time (several hours) before it completes, depending how badly fragmented the data on the hard drive is.
  7. A dialog box will appear once the defrag has completed. Click Close
  8.  Close the Defragmentation utility
  9. Close the Disk Properties box
  10. Close the My Computer box

You’re done.

What To Do If The Defrag Was Not Successful ?

Defragmenting a hard drive is an intensive process, particularly for the hard drive being defragged. If the process doesn’t complete it’s highly probably that there’s a serious problem with the hard drive. Defragging will usually make hard drive problems worse and you should contact a data recovery company like The Data Clinic at www.dataclinic.co.uk/ if you need to retrieve the data from the hard drive and can’t do it yourself.

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