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Crashed HDD Data Recovery. Any experiences?

Discussion in 'Computers' started by Mike Frezon, Dec 19, 2013.

  1. Mike Frezon

    Mike Frezon Moderator
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    I come here today...hanging my head...to serve myself up as an example of someone who is reasonably intelligent and thoughtful...but who totally blew it in terms of common sense with one of the most basic of computing rules: "back up your data."

    I just took a week's vacation to Walt Disney World with a new HD camcorder in tow. The camcorder afforded me two hours of video per 32GB SDHC card. Each night, I dumped that day's video onto an external 1TB HDD to free up the SDHC cards for the next day's use.

    All the other data on the drive was a true backup of files which also exist on my laptop. But the video files were SO big, I made the careless decision to only store them on the external HDD so as not to bog down the laptop.

    Short story. The drive crashed. Days after my return home. While I purchased a 3TB drive for the sole purpose of backing up those files, the 1TB drive crashed just after the 3TB drive was delivered.

    Apparently the File Allocation Table files corrupted. If the data remains, I cannot see it.

    The IT guys at my work tried to help by running some on-line data recovery software. Didn't work.

    I just chatted with a guy from Kroll Ontrack (one of the big online data mining companies) and was told that their services include a $65 evaluation which will determine what is recoverable...but that the actual recovery will then fall somewhere between $695 and $1995.

    My opinion--and I would suspect most people would agree--is that's way too much to recoup my vacation video.

    So.......my question for you folks is: Has anyone every had data recovered from a crashed drive and how did it go?
     
  2. Keith Plucker

    Keith Plucker Premium
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    I have never used a drive recovery service. However, I was able to recover all the data from a drive that DriveSavers quoted $2,600 for recovery using the freezer trick. When I first heard about freezing a drive I thought it was a bunch of hooey. It just didn't make sense to me. I thought it would more than likely kill the drive. In this case, since all other avenues were tried, I figured "Why not?"

    Someone I work with had an external drive with a bunch of old client data that failed and he had no backup. He had tried some software tools but it was apparently a hardware problem. He sent it off to DriveSavers for a quote ($2,600) but decided it was just too much. I asked him if I could have a shot at it.

    My first attempt was with SpinRite. I have had good success with SpinRite in the past but it wasn't working on this drive at all. Then I had him shrink wrap the bare drive (he had a shrink wrap machine) and I put it in the freezer. Initially I was only going to freeze it for a few hours but I got busy and forgot about. It was in the freezer overnight.

    I pulled the drive out and placed it in a HD dock. I also pointed a fan at it, I was concerned about condensation. After about 5 minutes of thawing, the drive came up and I was able to copy all the data off. I don't recall the amount of data now but it took about an hour over USB 2.0.

    The freezer trick is an option of last resort. The assumption should be it is just as likely destroy the drive as it is that you will recover data. I always try SpinRite first. The downside to SpinRite is that you can't do anything else on the system while it is running and it can take a lot of time. I have heard stories of people running it 1-2 weeks during a successful recovery.

    -Keith
     
  3. Mike Frezon

    Mike Frezon Moderator
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    Keith:

    Thanks for the response.

    I had never heard of SpinRite...but have spent some time checking out their site. I watched the videos describing how it works and read many of the testimonials. While most testimonials centered on non-booting main HDDs, there were also several describing problems similar to my own with an external HDD.

    Right now I'm leaning towards spending the $89 on SpinRite and seeing what it can do. Especially since I'm going to have a few days off around the holidays to put it through its paces.
     
  4. Dave B Ferris

    Dave B Ferris Well-Known Member

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    I'm in IT - recently, at my work I coordinated a "recovery" effort from a crashed HDD with our dedicated Data Center staff. They were successful; however, in retrospect, I'm thinking the lost files may have been due to a virus rather than a crash, as the HDD did not actually behave like a crashed drive. For example, the HDD could still boot - there were just no files available after the boot.One other tip, though: you'll probably also have to buy an external HDD drive, because if you can recover data from the bad HDD, I expect you will not want to keep the data on the bad HDD; you'll want to save the data on your (new) external drive, either permanently, or as means of moving to another HDD.
     
  5. Mike Frezon

    Mike Frezon Moderator
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    Dave:

    I noted in my OP that I had actually already purchased a 3TB drive for the very purpose of backing up this 1TB drive. Unfortunately, the 1TB drive decided to die just days after I took delivery of the 3TB drive and I hadn't yet copied over the data.

    So, if there's a chance to recover this data, I am ready-to-go.

    Did you and your staff use data recovery software on your project?
     
  6. Dave B Ferris

    Dave B Ferris Well-Known Member

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    I think they intended to; however, I think the project turned into a "vrus removal" project, instead. Why do I only "think" (instead of knowing for sure)? As I know you are also a movie fan, I hope you'll appreciate my Wizard of Oz reference: our dedicated Data Center staff seem to prefer to operate with the curtain closed.
     
  7. Mike Frezon

    Mike Frezon Moderator
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    :laugh:
     
  8. Sam Posten

    Sam Posten Moderator
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    No name calling here, there are two kinds of people: those that have lost data that they didnt back up and those that are going to. I am a charter member of the first group, welcome to the club. Good luck on the recovery.
     
  9. colinpaul

    colinpaul New User

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    Hello Mike,

    I have experienced hdd crash once back, 2 year before and it was due to accidental format, power failures, voltage fluctuations etc (hard to recall). That was logical data damage not physical data damage, so I had searched and used a lot of data recovery software to recover my data back but not possible for me to recover my data completely. Then I have used Recoveryfix for windows to recover data and I got all of my data back.
     
  10. DaveF

    DaveF Moderator
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    Mike, been there, done that. Somewhere lost in HTF archive is the thread documenting it. Frankly,if you've had incompetents poking around at the drive ('helpfully' trying 'stuff', they've made things worse and your chance of recovery has plummeted. Stop everything. Send the drive to a reputable recovery firm for a recovery estimate. Get a price and estimate of success. Decide what to do. If you can't afford recovery, or it's far too gone, you can then try all the voodoo internet tricks you until the drive is destroyed. My experience: if your drive has a profound crash and a first pass with standard disk tool fails: Stop. Anymore you'll do will make it worse. Send it to a pro shop
     
  11. Stan

    Stan Premium
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    I've only done it once in 25+ years work in IT. Through an incredible set of circumstances, lost a hard drive on a server. Even with mirroring and RAID, hot swap drives, etc. it was the perfect storm.

    Sent it to a data recovery service (don't recall the name) and two months later, along with a bill for several thousand dollars, got nothing back. Guess it all depends on the situation and how much damage happened.

    I guess I'd base my decision on how important the data was and if it's worth the expense to maybe get portions of it back, or maybe nothing at all.

    Good Luck.
     
  12. MichalSmith

    MichalSmith New User

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    It was a horrible experience for me but I hadn’t hired any data recovery expert. Simply searched for a tool to restore data from crashed HDD and successfully got back entire data with Remo Recover. You can also proceed with such free apps.
     

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