Looking For A Data Recovery Company
August 17, 2008 2:47 PM   Subscribe

Please recommend a data recovery/harddrive recovery firm, familiarity with HFS+ filesystems a plus. I've got a dead harddrive that spins up and shows one partition, but I cannot repair it either under OS X or with a Linux live CD. I've tried a few software packages, but none of them get any data off the drive. (Though Data Rescue II does show a list of the file names, when I restored a file, it didn't open, so it can see the files, it's just returning corrupt data.)

Before you all say "restore from your backups" this is my backup disk, specifically, my Time Machine backup harddrive.

I'm in the US and will ship pretty much anywhere and pay the considerable amount of money it will probably cost to recover the data (mostly images - CR2 files) from this drive.

posted by Brian Puccio to Technology (7 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Ontrack Data Recovery
posted by mpls2 at 2:57 PM on August 17, 2008

Best answer: Searching the history of AskMefi it seems everyone loves Ontrack. My experience with them has been nothing but stellar, as has anyone else I have talked to.
posted by SirStan at 3:28 PM on August 17, 2008

Did you try DiskWarrior already? I've always had good luck with it.
posted by w0mbat at 3:47 PM on August 17, 2008

Response by poster: DiskWarrior was useless, it said "Directory cannot be rebuilt due to disk hardware failure" even though there was no click of death, etc. I've got it powered down to avoid damage to the drive and have contacted Ontrack Data Recovery, they're quoting me free shipping (just bring it to the UPS store) $100 diagnostic and a final bill of $1000 to $2700.

posted by Brian Puccio at 3:52 PM on August 17, 2008

For the sake of us all -- and those who will be referred to this thread in the future -- would you mind sharing a post-mortum of your interaction with OnTrack? I haven't used them in ~5 years, and would love to hear your impression of the whole interaction, how the communication was, any thoughts on their service, and how the bill was generated (ie, are they billing you per GB restored?)
posted by SirStan at 4:20 PM on August 17, 2008

Might wanna try Gillware. They come highly recommended from fellow Mefites as well as all corners of the geekverse.

I sent a 1.5TB drive to them and the damage was so bad, that they had to open up the drive in their clean room. Turned out that the drive was totally unrecoverable, but they did not charge me for the diagnosis or clean-room free.

I can't say enough great things about their customer service.
posted by melorama at 4:24 PM on August 17, 2008

Response by poster: As requested, here's my update. I emailed Ontrack Sunday, the 17th, and got a response that night. It was a form email, but from a person. They have five centers that you mail your drive to. You can either drive it over, if it is close, or bring it to a UPS store and they will ship it at no charge to you.

I opted to go the UPS route. I sent the drive off Monday afternoon and they got it Tuesday. By Friday I received two lists from them, a list of partial files and a list of complete files. I was told that it would cost $1700 to retrieve all of the complete files and partial files and that they did not prorate the charge if you only wanted some of your data back.

First, I took the complete files list and using grep, filtered it down to just the images I was hoping to recover. A wc -L indicated that almost all of them were there. I thought I was set and was about to fork over my credit card number when I noticed that a lot of the files were listed as 0 bytes in size. Hmmmm.

I imported the file into a spreadsheet application and sorted by file size. 6243 files were listed as 0 bytes and around 4000 looked to be close to their correct size of anywhere from 10-14 megabytes. I called because I thought that maybe it was a glitch, why else would a 0 byte file be on the complete recovery list.

It turns out that their software does include 0 byte files on the completely recovered file list as long as their software thinks the file should have been 0 bytes anyhow. I know my photos weren't 0 bytes and I explained that if these ~6000 files were truly gone, I would not be paying $1700 for just the 4000 images, which may be corrupt themselves anyhow.

They said they would look into it and run more tests to see if the other ~6000 files could be recovered. A warning to others who use Ontrack: just because the file is on the completed list doesn't mean you'll get it back, check the file size to be sure it is reasonable. I don't think that Ontrack should list 0 byte files in their completely recovered list since 100% of 0 is still 0.

I'll update here when I hear from them again.
posted by Brian Puccio at 3:42 PM on August 25, 2008

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