Data recovery places? Shouldn't be hard, but I need somewhere trustworthy.
February 28, 2006 9:29 AM   Subscribe

Recommended data recovery places in New York City, specifically Manhattan? It shouldn't be a huge problem, but I don't want to just pick a name from the Yellow Pages. There is, of course,

...more inside.

Dell PC. Unmountable boot volume error. I was on the phone with Dell for a few hours last night, and they said the problem's confined to the boot sector. They said I should be able to slave this hard drive to another box, and get everything that way without a problem. Except, of course, I don't know anyone else with a PC desktop (everyone at NYU has Macs or laptops), so I'll have to hire someone to do it.

I'm not a hardware person. I'm about clueful enough to remove my hard drive and hook it up to someone else's computer, but not if there are any wrinkles in the procedure.

I do back up fairly frequently, but of course I haven't for awhile -- I was scheduled to back up this coming weekend. And of course this is the week I have two big papers and one big presentation due, and all kinds of midterms next week.

Besides all the Yellow Pages businesses, I'm able to get a deal from NYU's computer store; they'd charge $100 for the first CD, and $50 for every CD after that. This would probably be a good time to mention I have about 80 gigs. I think it'll be easier to clone the hard drive.

The Dell technician who's coming to give me a new hard drive must take away my old hard drive at the same time. And no, he won't give me a few hours with both so I can slave my old hard drive to the new one. I have to get the data off the old one before I can schedule him to come.

Basically, can you recommend any New York data recovery places you like and trust? The hard drive is not making any noises, and I don't think this is a serious problem that requires a cleanroom, hours of expertise, or whatever; I'd like someone who won't charge me for all that.
posted by booksandlibretti to Computers & Internet (11 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
A cleanroom and hours of expertise is what data recovery companies provide. You want a regular old computer store. (Although I'm not sure why you don't just buy another hard drive to clone to, and then ebay it when you're done with it.)
posted by mendel at 9:35 AM on February 28, 2006

I don't know of any data recovery places in the city, but it doesn't seem to me like you really need one.

For one, you could pick up a USB enclosure for the drive; then you should be able to just plug that in to a laptop and read the data from the drive. (In theory, this procedure should consist of unplugging the drive, plugging it in to the enclosure, and then plugging the enclosure into another computer). If that doesn't work, then it probably means there's more wrong than just a boot sector, in which case you need the full-on cleanroom treatment for the drive. The enclosure should be a lot cheaper than any data recovery service, with the advantage that you can put a new drive into it later and have extra storage space for whatever (like backups).

Another option, if you feel comfortable with using something other than Windows to get the data back, would be to have a friend download and burn you a copy of some Linux live CD (such as Knoppix); you can boot from the CD and access the hard drive from within that environment; you should then be able to copy off anything you need right now to a remote computer. This is less simple than the enclosure method, and for you would probably involve trying to find someone who knows Linux reasonably well.
posted by Godbert at 9:39 AM on February 28, 2006

What I would do is stick the drive in a USB enclosure and run GetDataBack on's worked really well for me in the past, and you just pay one price for as many data recoveries as you want.
posted by fvox13 at 9:39 AM on February 28, 2006

Best answer: Be aware that stuff after the boot sector could also be damaged. If it's just the boot sector, it should be a simple matter of slaving it, copying off the data, and going merrily on your way. If more is damaged, then you may require the services of a professional data recovery company.

FWIW I'm on the UES, and would be happy to help if you don't find an inexpensive place. I should have the disk space... Email's in the profile.
posted by NucleophilicAttack at 9:44 AM on February 28, 2006

I actually do know someone who has been doing computer repair and computer saving-the-day in Manhattan for a few years now, and has been getting a lot of business because of better rates than the stores and being very mobile. I'll get back with the contact info shortly, and you can check it out if you're still in need...
posted by whatzit at 9:51 AM on February 28, 2006

How do you know it's just the bootsector? Did the dell people have you use a bootable CD to get into the system to look at the files?

One thing you could try, in theory, would be get a friend to burn you a knoppix live CD that you could use to boot and view your files under Linux. That way you could see for sure that the data was still there.

On the other hand, you might want to be careful, if the drive is slowly going bad for some reason, you'll want to use it as little as possible.

If I were in your position, I'd try to get a bootable CD and an external USB hard drive, an 80GB one should be less then $100, and anyone with a burner should be able to make the CD. This way, you don't need to do anything beyond plugging in the USB drive and booting off the CD. Then, just copy the files to the USB drive.
posted by delmoi at 10:10 AM on February 28, 2006

Response by poster: If you view this page when you're logged out, the ads are about "Why God lets evil happen." I don't know how it happened, since I don't mention God or evil, but it's apropos if you ask me.

Time for some clarification. Linux terrifies me, and although it may be worthwhile, I don't think this is the time to learn it.

Nucleophilic Attack, I'll e-mail you in a little bit (I have to go to class). whatzit, I'm definitely interested in your guy's contact info. All of you, thanks so much -- you have no idea how much I'm freaking out now.

How do I know if the drive is slowly going bad, or if it's going to stay how it is? Obviously once it's hooked up, I'll go after the high-priority stuff first, but how do I know if the drive will keep declining?

How do I know if it is just the boot sector, or if the problem's more widespread? Dell says, flat-out, it's confined to the boot sector. One of the first data recovery places I talked to said that Dell can't be trusted for that, and only their special $100 service can really find out.

Basically, it seems like if I want to do it myself, I need to buy either a new HD for myself to boot from and copy to, or a USB attachment to connect my HD to a friend's laptop that can burn me CDs or DVDs. True?

It'd be best if I could hire someone to clone my hard drive (I'll buy a new drive to clone to, if I have to). I'm not completely set on it, but if I can't find a friend who has more of a clue than I do, that's mostly what I'm looking for.
posted by booksandlibretti at 10:28 AM on February 28, 2006

Turn up at ITS and offer $50 for someone to do that.

I shipped my computer all the way to FL to avoid paying NYU computer store rates one year.

I bet some techie whiz at ITS can help you out in a jiff.
posted by anjamu at 11:52 PM on February 28, 2006

Best answer: I'm very excited and hopeful -- NucleophilicAttack is actually coming to my apartment tonight to try to slave my hard drive to his. For those of you dying to know how it goes, I'll comment here or post a follow-up on MeTa by Friday.
posted by booksandlibretti at 11:32 AM on March 1, 2006

Best answer: NucleophilicAttack came by last night, and managed to get it all. I'm in awe of his skill and benevolence, and I can't thank him enough.
posted by booksandlibretti at 8:26 AM on March 2, 2006

Best answer: It was my pleasure. :) I'm glad your data was recoverable!
posted by NucleophilicAttack at 5:00 AM on March 3, 2006

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