Data Recovery for an External Hard Drive Crash
August 25, 2008 10:58 AM   Subscribe

My external hard drive just crashed so can anyone suggest a Portland, OR, based data recovery service?
posted by tangyraspberry to Computers & Internet (9 answers total)
You think you could use a utility and do it yourself?
posted by decrescendo at 11:05 AM on August 25, 2008

If it's a true hardware failure (e.g. the reading head crashing into a platter and possibly damaging something) there's no safe DIY that I know of. In the worst case scenarios, I believe recovery companies like Kroll use clean rooms to access the platters. Assuming it's a real hard drive failure and not something like "Windows won't boot," in which case people can use live CDs or an external enclosure.

Try a Google search for "oregon data recovery."
posted by Ky at 11:15 AM on August 25, 2008

Oops, forgot about the "external" part. But yeah, a Google search turns up hits as it is.
posted by Ky at 11:18 AM on August 25, 2008

Those services can be expensive. If you feel like trying something yourself first, SpinRite has gotten great reviews.
posted by davcoo at 12:06 PM on August 25, 2008 [1 favorite]

I've used and recommended Coast 2 Data Recovery to my customers here in Portland. You talk right to the techs, and they are sympathetic and happy to chat with you about the nuances of their procedures. They don't have a clean room, but they're a fraction of the cost of a clean-room recovery, and the "forensic" equipment they use doesn't jeopardize future recovery in a DriveSavers-type clean room. Attempting a recovery yourself potentially does jeopardize future recovery by a specialist, so be forewarned.

You're normally looking at $300-$400 for a successful recovery with Coast 2, and if they can't recover your data, you don't pay. Give them a call, they're great on the phone. (In my case, the drive was just bricked. Tragedy.)

DriveSavers is who I end up recommending for clean-room work; although I have no first-hand experience with them. You're normally looking at $1000+ for their services, but again that's only if they get your data back successfully. You can call them with the details of your situation if you want a more accurate quote. If you go with DriveSavers, memail me and I'll happily pass you a referral good for 10% off your total.
posted by churl at 2:17 PM on August 25, 2008

SpinRite is not a data recovery program. It is a "filesystem recovery utility" which is sometimes needed in the data recovery process.

Also, if it has a mechanical failure you should know that every attempt you make to mount the drive will make it harder for someone else to recover anything.

What exactly do you mean when you say "hard drive just crashed"? Does it power on but not spin up? Does it make grinding/squealing/clunking/clicking noises? Does it just not power on at all? Does it power on, spin up, but not mount on your desktop?

Depending on your answers to these questions you might not need a data recovery service. However if it turns out that you do, the one question you must answer is, "How much is this data worth to me?" If your answer is $100-$500 then I could help you with this, feel free to send a pm. However if the data is worth $1500-$3000 then your only real option is a service such as DriveSavers. They're one of the most respected in the industry. Just give them a call and a knowledgeable rep will help you over the phone. They'll give you a quote and tell you where to send the drive.

I am unaware of any professional data recovery services local to Portland. Lots of mom & pop PC repair shops will advertise data recovery but they're not the real deal and are far less likely to recover your data. If it really is worth $2000 or so then I highly recommend you do not let a local PC repair shop touch your drive, just send it to the pros.
posted by J-Garr at 2:18 PM on August 25, 2008

Wow, that reads as if I work for drivesavers or something: "knowledgeable rep will help..." I am just amazed that whenever I call them for a quote the folks who answer always have amazingly technical answers to my questions.
posted by J-Garr at 2:23 PM on August 25, 2008

Not that Ontrack is near Portland, but here's my experience with them after being referred to them by Ask MeFi.
posted by Brian Puccio at 3:45 PM on August 25, 2008

SpinRite is not a data recovery program.
:-) It recovered the data from my crashed hard drive just fine.
posted by davcoo at 8:53 AM on August 26, 2008

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