Data recovery with pirated content
July 19, 2016 7:15 AM   Subscribe

Asking for a friend (actually a friend): They had a hard drive go down, and it's at the point of no return without bringing in the pros. This drive had a lot of irreplaceable family photos and videos...but it also had a few torrented movies on it. If they send the drive to a data recovery specialist, do they need to be concerned about the possession of this content landing them in hot water, legally speaking?

Obviously, this friend is self-flagellating right now over the poor decisions that brought them to this place (not having multiple backups, pirating content, etc.). They are not concerned about recovering the torrented movies (obviously), just the family photos and such.
posted by gone2croatan to Technology (7 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
The data recovery folks will not care one whit. Torrented movies are very, very common; the kind of people who work at data recovery services are, I would wager real American dollars, almost guaranteed to possess pirated content themselves. They will not care and have no incentive to report anything to anybody.
posted by Tomorrowful at 7:23 AM on July 19, 2016 [8 favorites]

Agreed, no one cares about your friend's pirated movies. Data loss makes people anxious and find as many worst case scenarios as possible but getting in trouble with "the authorities" for stuff like this is not one of them.
posted by jessamyn at 7:31 AM on July 19, 2016 [1 favorite]

Best answer: The data recovery folks will just be grateful if there isn't a folder either on the root of C or on the desktop called THE KIND OF PORN YOU GO TO PRISON FOR AND YOU'LL BE AN ACCESSORY IF YOU DON'T REPORT THIS.

They don't care. They don't want to know.
posted by Lyn Never at 7:40 AM on July 19, 2016 [22 favorites]

Yeah, they don't give a shit. They're getting paid to recover the data. I sent a HD out a few years ago and it had a few torrented movies on it. They recovered the data no problem, and didn't give a whiff about anything on the drive.

Also, Western Data Recovery is where mine got sent and they did a spectacular, and fast job. A+++ HOPE TO NEVER NEED TO AGAIN.
posted by furnace.heart at 7:55 AM on July 19, 2016 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thanks, everyone--I figured this was the case, but anxiety is a heck of a thing.
posted by gone2croatan at 8:03 AM on July 19, 2016

As someone who has done data retrieval off of phones/computers for extra cash... I've seen some shit. Torrented files wouldn't even register on my radar. If you're friend isn't a paedophile or online drug trafficker, he's gonna be fine.

Also, tell your friend to buy a terabyte flash drive as a simple backup after all of this is done. They're way less hassle than external hard drives, and I tend to find people will actually update and backup files much more often with them. I keep all my files on a password-locked thumb drive attached to my keychain.
posted by InkDrinker at 8:03 AM on July 19, 2016 [2 favorites]

As far as future backup strategies, my feeling is this:

- Use at least one cloud solution for your legit shit: legal photos and videos, files and documents, work stuff that isn't confidential, any writing or other creative work you do. I use Dropbox for this, with the app installed on all my computers and mobile devices, some of the folders aren't even synched to any of my computers at this point, but Dropbox is "where I save as".

Everything except downloads get saved there, plus a few of those very rare downloads where you only get to download it a couple of times and you have to keep it to install again later. Other downloads are re-downloadable.

We additionally use shared documents on Google Drive for married-household-people-stuff, all the utility accounts and car VINS etc stuff listed neatly and a spreadsheet with our budget, plus the last set of photos we took of our valuables' serial numbers. Just for ease of access and in case one of us gets hit by a bus.

----- I also use Carbonite or Backblaze or something like that, it's specifically a drive backup application, we have a family account, it just runs, I never have to think about it. I only run that on my personal computer, since my work computer has all the important stuff saved to Dropbox and the rest is the IT department's problem.

- Get a WD or Seagate multi-T backup drive for your movies and stuff that you'd like to not lose but, if you had to, it could be re-stolen or ripped. I mean, let's not have a huge sense of entitlement about that stuff? Avoid carrying it on your local drive if you can, too.
----- Or get a Mac Mini or other small networked computer to run Plex on, because if you're going to do it at least make it nice and easy to use. (You can also put your legitimate purchased downloads there, it's very nice.)
posted by Lyn Never at 9:53 AM on July 19, 2016 [4 favorites]

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