Data recovery experience?
August 28, 2006 10:52 PM   Subscribe

So, my friend's harddrive got wiped. Lost a year's worth of high-res artwork. Does anyone have experience with using a data recovery service? I'm looking specifically for price information, how much data was retrievable, and potentially a recommendation.

Maybe next time he'll back up!
posted by still to Technology (18 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
How did you lose the data (dropped, etc.)? Does the drive still spin up? (don't mount it writable)
posted by aye at 11:00 PM on August 28, 2006

Response by poster: Apparently he dropped it (external harddrive). When he tries to mount it, he hears a scratching noise, the PC recognizes a drive being connected, but the drive never appears for use. When he talked to tech support, they told him that "yeah that scratching noise is a piece of the hardware scratching off information, so stop doing that".
posted by still at 11:04 PM on August 28, 2006

I worked for a company where someone spilled a latte with sugar packets into a PowerBook.

We tried to get the drive recovered by a company which had done recovery for Sex and the City and the Muppet Show.

It was going to be US$10,000 recovery.

Has your friend tried taking it out of the case? Or booting with Knoppix?

Did he have no backup?
posted by k8t at 11:06 PM on August 28, 2006

SpinRite might be worth a try, if the laptop is PC-compatible.
posted by davcoo at 11:11 PM on August 28, 2006

We have used Driver Savers and OnTrack where I work. Prices always hovered around the $1200 range. But it goes up as recovery becomes more difficult. You rarely get everything back. Usually just a small percentage.
posted by smallerdemon at 11:20 PM on August 28, 2006

was it wiped or did it actually get damaged? if it got damaged then you'll use these recovery services.

If it got wiped, read here. This article just appeared on digg.
posted by unexpected at 11:58 PM on August 28, 2006

I used for a broken laptop 40 gig drive and they recovered *everything* for 500$ Canadian and the price of another drive to put the data onto. I was quite happy with their service and in the grand scheme of things the price was trivial. Their rates do vary.
posted by Rumple at 12:30 AM on August 29, 2006

DO NOT use Spinrite to attempt to fix a dropped drive. Just don't. Really.
posted by flabdablet at 12:49 AM on August 29, 2006

The very first coop job I had in school was doing IT support for an aerospace company. A woman there screwed up her computer somehow, losing some VERY important, not-backed-up financial records. We sent off her hard drive to a data recovery company, and I think the quote was somewhere in the $4-6000 range. This was in 1997, mind you.
posted by antifuse at 1:51 AM on August 29, 2006

Also in Canadian dollars. :)
posted by antifuse at 2:12 AM on August 29, 2006

If this is a head crash, which it very much sounds like, expect a Large Bill. Softer failures like bad sectors and circuit problems can be fixed by just at worst swapping the logic board for a working one. Mechanical problems involve disassembly and reassembly in a cleanroom and are...not cheap.
posted by Skorgu at 8:47 AM on August 29, 2006

I've used CBL Data Recovery. They're located near Toronto, Canada but I think the bulk of their business comes in through the mail. I can't recall what they charged but it wasn't outrageous and they were quick, friendly and, of course, recovered all of my data.
posted by ChuckLeChuck at 10:12 AM on August 29, 2006

flabdablet: Care to elaborate WHY you shouldn't use SpinRite? I'm very curious.
posted by melorama at 1:50 PM on August 29, 2006

I've used drivesavers before (at work, not personally), and would highly ecommend them. They were expensive ($1400 in one case and $2400 in the other) but were able to retrieve 95% of the data off the drives. They will quote you a price range; the harder the actual recovery, the higher the actual price.
posted by wearyaswater at 3:48 PM on August 29, 2006

Spinrite does a bunch of intensive reading (to give the drive as many chances as possible to pick up marginal data) and writing (to force the drive to reassign data blocks it's found to be bad). One way or another, it accesses every block on the drive, and it takes a fair while to run.

If you've got a drive with internal parts bent out of shape from being dropped, the worst thing you could do to it is power it up and leave a very thorough utility program pounding on it for an hour or two.

When you damage a drive by dropping it, the most likely thing you'll have ended up doing is distorting the mechanical relationship between the spinning disk and the read/write mechanism. To recover data from a dropped drive, a data recovery service is probably going to need to remove the actual disks (which are pretty sturdy, and unlikely to have come to much harm) and refit them into an undamaged drive mechanism in clean-room conditions.

For the best chance of data recovery, you don't want every block on the disk to have been got at (and potentially rewritten, or at worst physically scraped off) by a misaligned read/write head.
posted by flabdablet at 5:14 PM on August 29, 2006

Second (or third) the take on Drivesavers. They were pricey ($1500 or so) but they were insanely responsive and responsible, and got back ~95% of my data. If you have the cash, I'd recommend it.
posted by cloudscratcher at 1:02 AM on August 30, 2006

I second Rumple. I used the Vancouver people and got everything back from a 60G drive where the electrical system died. They just cloned it for $400 + new drive, and xueexueg did all the programming work. They are the cheapest and the quality is the same.
posted by scazza at 2:10 PM on August 30, 2006

Oh it seems Rumple's link doesn't work. My isn't working right now but email me if you want their info.
posted by scazza at 2:14 PM on August 30, 2006

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