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Once a hard drive dies.....


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#1 of 20 OFFLINE   Ronald Epstein

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Posted August 15 2007 - 09:44 PM

Many of you are probably aware by now that we had a hard drive crash this past Tuesday. We lost some valuable data off of that drive that we desperately need to retrieve. That drive is being sent back to us through our ISP host. I have a simple question.... From past experience, when a hard drive fails, files can often be retrieved but their structure (as in web pages) are screwed up because everything gets renamed. Is there any possibility that we will be able to spin this drive one last time and find our files fully intact and undamaged? I suppose I am looking for a small ray of hope that we can obtain a few directories of files off of that drive. Thanks in advance for your help.

 

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#2 of 20 OFFLINE   SethH

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Posted August 15 2007 - 10:17 PM

There are some folks out there who claim that freezing your HD for a couple hours will provide you with a small amount of time to gather data off of it. I have never personally tried this, but there's enough anecdotal evidence out there to give it a try -- plus there's really no risk involved. Just as a random question -- hard drives are cheap these days, why aren't these things RAID protected? Even RAID-5 is relatively inexpensive these days in its most simple form. RAID-1 is even less expensive, but does not provide quite as much protection.

#3 of 20 OFFLINE   schalkt

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Posted August 15 2007 - 11:50 PM

I've heard of the freezing thing too, but have never tried it. There are businesses that specialize in data recovery, so depending on what failed on your hard drive they may be able to recover your files. Of course, they are expensive ($100+), so you really have to determine if your data is worth it.
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#4 of 20 OFFLINE   ZackR

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Posted August 16 2007 - 12:00 AM

Ron, I am in the IT industry, and used to work with bad/damaged hard drives relatively frequently. The freezer thing CAN actually work. This is not merely me reciting anecdotal heresay or anything, I have had it work on two drives out of (I believe 4) that I have ever tried it on. If that is the route you are going, keep it in there more than just a few hours. I always put mine in the packages that hard drives come in and throw in a couple packets of that silica gel stuff to try to prevent any moisture damage (it's the little packets you find in shoe boxes). I don't know if this is the BEST way to go, but I've tried it out of desperation and it has worked. If it does work, you need to be ready to copy files IMMEDIATELY upon the drive spinning up, because most likely, once it heats up significantly, it will malfunction again...though you could then start over and try it again. Otherwise, there are always data recovery outfits, but they are not necessarily cheap.
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#5 of 20 OFFLINE   DaveF

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Posted August 16 2007 - 01:56 AM

Ron,

Stop. Don't try recover the data yourself. Send the failed drive Gillware (or other reputable professional data recovery service). They are fast and there's no charge for initial assessment of the severity of the problem.

If it's only a software issue, you could likely recover much of the data yourself using common tools. But if this is a hardware failure, anything you do will only make it worse and decrease the chances of salvaging data. (see my tale of woe.)

I wish I'd sent my drive to professionals at the first hint of failure, rather than utlimately destroying it with my own efforts. Even moreso, for a drive relating to very long-term, professional and personal endeavor.

#6 of 20 OFFLINE   ZackR

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Posted August 16 2007 - 02:09 AM

I agree. If you can a free assessment, do it. If the recovery price is not ridiculously high, a professional recovery service is absolutely the right way to go. I hope my post didn't sound like I was recommending attempting the freezer tip over a professional service. Posted Image
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#7 of 20 OFFLINE   Ronald Epstein

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Posted August 16 2007 - 02:28 AM

Yikes! Already contacted our ISP and recommended that they try the freeze method. The drive is in their hands, they have the means of hooking it back up and instantly pulling off and transferring those files back to us. I am going to take a chance that perhaps for a few minutes they can get that drive to spin and pull off just a few vital directories. I'll keep you posted. Actually, my big concern was at what point does a dead drive start renaming files? Since I am dealing with web pages that link back to specific filenames it is important nothing gets renamed.

 

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#8 of 20 OFFLINE   Paul Padilla

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Posted August 16 2007 - 03:03 AM

Hi Ron...another IT guy here.

Since when is an ISP willing to risk losing a customer's data?!!? They really don't have any business performing data recovery unless it's a specific service they are offering. And (hindsight) why are they providing what I assume is hosting without redundency (RAID/clustering) and/or backups? Any professional service relating to data is irresponsible if they don't have these things in place. If a single failed drive is cause for alarm on their part then there is a real problem.

I have to agree that if this data is truly critical, don't take any chances. True data recovery services are much more than a techie with a few scandisk utilities. It is expensive ($100s doesn't scratch the surface) but experimenting can do more harm than good. Look at these horror stories from a service here in San Diego I've used before.

http://www.hdodatare...._of_shame.html


As far as renaming goes, if a drive is doing that on it's own it's doing more than renaming, it's corrupting files. The renaming you're speaking of might be due to cases where long file names get truncated by some utilities.

Good luck, and I'd inquire a little further about the safety of your data with this ISP.
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#9 of 20 OFFLINE   Ronald Epstein

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Posted August 16 2007 - 04:13 AM

What we just went through is an absolute horror story, Paul. I won't mention the name of the company but I am certain that if you look around here you'll discover who we are dealing with. Go to their website and you'll find proud announcements about their speed and quality of service and the fact that they pride themselves on being the last ISP company anyone will ever need. We were assured prior to our 2004 crash that our data was backed up. After the crash, we found out it wasn't. In an effort to prevent this sort of thing from happening again we mirrored our system but that caused the forum to crash. We asked the ISP if we should go RAID, but was told that they didn't deem it necessary and that our data would be backed up. Well, history repeated itself. Furthermore, this company offers no phone support whatsoever priding itself on speedy email and IM communication. Well, none of my emails were answered at all the day the crash occurred and when I tried to reach a live agent via IM chat, that agent suddenly went to "away" mode and remained as such for the rest of the day. To top things off, the company expects us to pay them for our next quarter of service and refuses to compensate us for all our losses citing that we should have been more careful by choosing to go with a RAID setup (which they advised us was not necessary). ....and yes, I am leaving the data recovery in the hands of these people because one, we really can't afford the exorbitant costs involved with recovering this data and two, I think the person responsible for not doing a better job of keeping us informed may actually be doing us a favor by attempting to get that drive to spin long enough to pull off the files we need. It's just not worth it for us to pay the huge cost of professional recovery when this forum is back up and running. My biggest concern was the scrapbook that took months to put together. Fortunately I stored all the pictures on a separate drive. It is mostly the web design that is lost. As far as going with another host.... We should greatly consider doing so after the way we were treated. However, performance wise this company (who also serves AVS) has kept this forum running with hardly any bottlenecking over the past year since doing upgrades. For what we pay, the company is providing great bandwidth but lousy service. If we were to move the costs would be quite high at a time where advertising revenue is low. These are issues that will greatly determine our decision of what to do next. In the meantime, thanks for your input. Love hearing from the IT guys.

 

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#10 of 20 OFFLINE   Tekara

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Posted August 16 2007 - 05:08 AM

Well heck probably all I can add is to consider setting up an automated rsync of the data over from the server to a personal machine of yours. That way if this ever happens again you've got a personal backup that is at worst 24hrs old. There's something to say for the sense of security that comes with having a backup in hand.
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#11 of 20 OFFLINE   DaveF

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Posted August 16 2007 - 05:53 AM

Gillware offers core service at a fixed $378.99. I don't know if $400 is too high, but it's a free examination by them to see if this service is suitable. (If it's a mechanical problem, requiring disassmbly in the cleanroom, then it gets pricey and risky.)

#12 of 20 OFFLINE   ZackR

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Posted August 16 2007 - 01:21 PM

This is actually a very good idea and should be easy to setup. Posted Image
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#13 of 20 OFFLINE   Christ Reynolds

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Posted August 16 2007 - 01:47 PM

The freeze method is obviously not always the best method to use. Freezing the drive can help if the read head is touching one of the platters, but won't do anything if the control board has fried. There is more than one problem that can result in a "dead hard drive". CJ
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#14 of 20 OFFLINE   Kimmo Jaskari

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Posted August 17 2007 - 01:35 AM

Ron,

for the future - any server doing anything more advanced than... no, wait, scratch that.

Any server, even if "all" it serves are music and photos at home, should be using a RAID setup. With the price of disks ridiculously low, and the fact that every hard drive ever made WILL fail eventually, not using RAID is just... unacceptable, really. Any serious server hardware (and serious doesn't have to mean freakishly expensive) will come with hardware RAID1 available (mirroring), and usually once set up you can literally just yank one of the drives and hotswap it with a new one and the RAID hardware will rebuild the mirror with zero user intervention.

Even your average home PC probably has RAID1 support out of the box, for that matter.

Frankly, with a popular site like HTF, you should be using database clustering over several machines and have load-balanced redundant web servers too. With PC-server-hardware and heavy use of open source that can be built at very reasonable cost (I have no clue if you already have any of that of course, I'm just sayin') Posted Image

An ISP with admins that can't provide reliable backups and actually loses data just because one hard drive fails... well, frankly, that's pretty grim. Amateurs.

The ISP should be paying to send the drive to a professional data recovery firm - THEY were the ones who screwed up by the numbers with backup failure and they babbled nonsensical claptrap about not using RAID.
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#15 of 20 OFFLINE   Ronald Epstein

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Posted August 17 2007 - 04:14 AM

I agree with you 100% on that.....unfortunately, as you can read in my long post above, our ISP doesn't feel the same way. They really, really screwed up here and admit to it. Yet, they expect us to continue paying them for service while we try to relocate. They aren't agreeing to give us any compensation whatsoever. You really ought to go to their website and read the crap they have posted about how great a company they have and how they will be "the last hosting company you will ever need." ....and guess what?! They actually promote themselves as such while telling you that they offer no phone support.

 

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#16 of 20 OFFLINE   Aaron Silverman

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Posted August 17 2007 - 05:58 AM

Maybe you can retrieve some files from here:

http://web.archive.o....eaterforum.com

Unfortunately it seems to have stopped archiving the site as of May.
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#17 of 20 OFFLINE   Ronald Epstein

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Posted August 17 2007 - 08:32 AM

Hahaha...the Wayback Machine was the first place I went.

Fortunately, I have all the photos. That's a big step. The problem
is the work involved in creating another scrapbook.

However, if there was a website archiving our site (such as Wayback)
I could have easily gone there and copied everything word-for-word.

Is Wayback Machine normally this far behind or do you
think perhaps they just stopped archiving?

 

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#18 of 20 OFFLINE   Tekara

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Posted August 17 2007 - 01:10 PM

Aside from the wayback machine, I only know of Google's page caching. However, for Google's cache you'd have to catch it almost immediately after the hard drive cache since it tends to be updated frequently. But hey, you never know. . .
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#19 of 20 OFFLINE   bobbyg2

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Posted August 17 2007 - 04:02 PM

Is there a way to backup this website yourself?
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#20 of 20 OFFLINE   Brian W. Ralston

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Posted August 17 2007 - 05:37 PM

In the entertainment industry out here in L.A....we use DriveSavers for critical data recovery on drives that have failed or seemingly died. They are based up in the San Jose/San Francisco area.

http://www.drivesavers.com/

They can even get critical data off drives that have been damaged in fires and drives sunk to the bottom of the ocean.
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