Data recovery professionals for Seagate external hard drive
July 17, 2016 5:26 PM   Subscribe

This morning my portable hard drive said the folder I'd been working on last night was corrupt, so I restarted my PC. Now the hard drive is asking to be formatted before use. There are lots of tools available online but as an amateur, I'm not willing to risk playing around with it myself. How do I choose a good data recovery business on the Gold Coast, Queensland? Who to avoid? I need the data urgently and I'm willing to pay a ridiculous amount of money.
posted by b33j to Computers & Internet (17 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: DISCLAIMER: I am not a computer wiz. But, I also have a Seagate portable hardrive that recently, went kerflueooy on me in a similar fashion. (Said the drive was corrupt.) I powered down my PC, unplugged the Seagate, restarted the computer. Turned off the computer. Plugged in the Seagate, restarted the computer and viola. There she was again, just like old times. I have no idea why this worked. But I have not had any problems since.
posted by pjsky at 5:40 PM on July 17, 2016

Response by poster: I tried that. I don't want to try it again in case there's a limited number of uses left in it and/or until I have a fresh replacement drive to save the data to. But thanks. I'm hopeful. The boss is aware and sympathetic. She'll let the publishers know (book was due in today).
posted by b33j at 5:52 PM on July 17, 2016

If you can swing shipping to the states, DriveSavers saved my butt---and data---about 10 years ago when I had a drive go kerplooey. They do seem to maybe have some options for non-US folks as well.
posted by leahwrenn at 5:58 PM on July 17, 2016

Best answer: I've referred several of my won't-make-backups-on-principle customers to Kroll Ontrack, and have never heard complaints about anything other than the size of the fee they charge for it. They have a Brisbane office.
posted by flabdablet at 6:30 PM on July 17, 2016 [1 favorite]

Echoing flabdablet, I've never used them myself but in the tech circles I used to move in, Ontrack were generally the go-to. I never got involved enough to find out what it cost, but judging from their website, it's probably a lot.

Data recovery mobs all do pretty much the same thing in pretty much the same way, so really all you need to do is have a Google around, read some reviews, call for some quotes or guesstimates, and make a decision.

I would personally strongly recommend you try a bootable Linux distro ( is as good as any) and try some self-recovery, but I also understand your hesitation to muck around too much.
posted by turbid dahlia at 8:28 PM on July 17, 2016

I would personally strongly recommend you try a bootable Linux distro

That would normally be my advice as well, but not in a case where minimizing the probability of a misstep is listed in the question as being worth a "ridiculous amount of money" and especially not under so much time pressure.

Data recovery requires, above all else, a calm and methodical approach and a good understanding of which tools to use in what order and why. None of these things will be available to a person already stressed about missing a book deadline.
posted by flabdablet at 12:20 AM on July 18, 2016

Response by poster: Yeah, i have ADHD and nasty deadlines, and actually considered pressing "yes" when the system suggested formatting, so I decided not to attempt it myself. I did find software from the manufacturer for the purpose, which you only pay for if it works, and I'll discuss this with the mid-price technician who will be visiting me tomorrow.

I called the super duper guys, and their prices start from $1500, so that's an option if tech can't fix it. I also came across a number of other internet people with same product and same problem who were able to resolve their issue (which is great) but I'd be a fool to attempt this myself when the value of the data is so great and my experience in data recovery is non-existent. I'm an end-user. I can wrangle a search engine, Adobe and Office products, but I do not know what a booty thing is, and I've never knowingly used Linux. I'll update when (see my fake confidence there) this is resolved tomorrow.
posted by b33j at 4:42 AM on July 18, 2016

If it's so important that you would pay the $1500, I honestly cannot imagine why you would let anyone else at the disk.

Remember that a lot of computer people, in my experience at least, suffer from delusions of competence and are shockingly bad at knowing their limitations. You could easily find that someone will bork your disk and then just shrug their shoulders and walk away. I don't understand why you would want to take that risk if you can afford to pay professionals with a track record of getting it right.

Pay the bucks. Get your stuff. Use the pain to encourage yourself to backup.
posted by mewsic at 5:19 AM on July 18, 2016 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Because time is important as well (the expensive people couldn't help in under a week, and they are a significant travel distance away) and I had to make a judgement on the likelihood of the severity of the problem and the likelihood that it could be resolved easily. I also have a lot of experience in working with technical people and I'm confident in my ability to assess someone's attitude and willingness to stop before they do damage. I did my research, I spoke to a number of people who have a variety of technical expertise, and I went with the best option under the circumstances. Ok?
posted by b33j at 5:28 AM on July 18, 2016

I'm the techie person in my circle, so I occasionally get a few 'my drive failed, help!' requests. I've reached the point when I say three things (I've actually got a drive in with Drive Savers at the moment!)

1. Your data is gone, this is horrible, but it's happened. Yes, it's really gone. (for the longest time I used to sugar coat it, with maybe's, if we're lucky, but that sets the wrong expectations).
2. I can have a look, and there's a 2% chance I might get some data off it-- but if I don't, the drive will be further damaged and option 3 will also fail, it'll cost you a few beers. When I don't recover anything, which is what's going to happen, you'll be annoyed at me, but you'll still give me the beers.
3. I can send it off (I use Drive Savers) and there's a >5% chance you'll get your data back, it'll cost you ~$3k (they don't charge anything if they can't recover it).

If they go for option 2, then I'll try everything in my power, scans, flipping the head assembly if I've got a matching drive, desperation chilling, and sometimes I get something, sometimes it's just a corrupt partition table etc and everyone's day is improved.

If they pick option three, then all I will do is plug the HDD into a USB caddy and turn it on, if I hear it spin up and hear any head-failure clicks, I turn it off and Fedex it over to drive-savers. If it spins up seemingly fine, I'll run a couple of basic checks to see if I can get any data off it, if not-- off it goes to Drive Savers.

Which is a long way of saying, if you're looking at option three as a possibility then make sure no-one applies power to that drive for anything that doesn't have a specific short reason. I've caught some people just leave a clicking drive in a caddy and wandered off on some other task. Make sure your I.T. people understand what's at risk if you still want to use them for diagnosis.

Drive-Savers will get your data back to you in a week, Overnight Fedex (your expense) to their CA labs, $900-$3500USD for a 1-2 business day turn around, and pay an extra 50 or 100 bucks for them to host the recovered data on an FTP server you can download from. They also have the nosebleed ASAP option.
posted by Static Vagabond at 6:30 AM on July 18, 2016

Fair enough. I couldn't know it was going to take them a week until you mentioned it and it does change the situation somewhat. It's great that you have experience working with tech people and can sort the wheat from the chaff. I hope you recover your work.
posted by mewsic at 6:33 AM on July 18, 2016

If your mid-price technician wants to run anything at all against your drive that involves "fixing" it, i.e. altering the broken data that's currently on it in some fashion - as opposed to attempting to copy it all onto a pristine drive and then using the copy as the basis for any further recovery work that's required - I strongly advise you to find a different technician.
posted by flabdablet at 10:20 AM on July 18, 2016 [2 favorites]

People that do professional file forensics should have a reasonable chance of recovering your files. Look for companies/individuals that use EnCase, FTK, or SIFT. Using those tools doesn't guarantee they're good at recovering files, but they are some of the best in class software for doing so.
posted by Candleman at 4:43 PM on July 18, 2016

Response by poster: The technician is here and he has satisfied me that he knows when to stop and what not to do. He has also in the past involved more expensive companies in data recovery, and he discussed what those companies do that costs that much. I hope to report good news directly.
posted by b33j at 9:45 PM on July 18, 2016

Response by poster: Data recovered in less than an hour. I'm saving it across now to a new (different brand) portable hard drive. Yay!
posted by b33j at 10:20 PM on July 18, 2016

I strongly recommend taking the opportunity to save it across to two portable hard drives.

The brand doesn't matter. Every portable hard drive will eventually suffer enough knocking about to kill it.

Think of this as the near miss on the icy bend, or the angina that turned out to be indigestion, and get religious about backing up.
posted by flabdablet at 11:13 PM on July 18, 2016

Response by poster: I do have to go home some time - and it's going to take a while to save 1.5 TB. But yes, the back up system at home is being reconfigured to actually work, and the data on the original drive is being split across the two drives, so that I don't lose everything at once. There will also be a system where the final files for any project (but not the intermediate ones) will be saved to a convenience place. I have very much learnt my lesson and I'm grateful I only lost time.
posted by b33j at 12:02 AM on July 19, 2016

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