Getting Data Back

October 14th, 2016

Get Back CCTV Image Data

Question: “We have a criminal case and we have a major problem. We have a digital cctv recorder. The footage we needed was recorded on the 2 of September when I called the engineer to tape the footage it said we could no longer go back to that date. Is there anyway we can retrieve that footage? I would greatly appreciate it. I’m feeling so stressed about this hopefully you can help.”

Answer: The likelihood of recovering data from CCTV recorders like this is very slim. This is because this equipment records on a continuous loop, continually overwriting the older data on the hard drive. In this case I believe the data you want to recover has been completely overwritten. This is common thing.If you have data from a CCTV system that you want saved its important to switch the CCTV recorder off so that it can’t overwrite any of the recordings you want back.

500GB Harddrive Not Appearing

Question: Have a seagate 500GB harddrive, used it a week ago and was perfectly fine. Tried to plug it in yesterday however nothing appeared on my Mac. Tried a windows and still the same. Windows makes sound when plug in. The light appears on device then flashes for a bit and then stops and goes back to just the light. It makes a heart beat type of sound when plugged in, such as it’s trying to do something but keeps getting caught. Really need the data on the device.

Transcend Store Jet harddrive

A 1TB Transcend Store Jet hard drive

Answer: The noise your Windows system makes when you plug your hard drive in is that of a USB device being recognised. There’s a subtle difference here – the noise is NOT your hard drive being recognised, rather it’s only the USB interface being recognised. I therefore suspect that you have a harddrive problem. The heart beat sound you mention when the harddrive is connected is probably similar to the repetitive clicking sound that most people report when their hard drive does not appear. This sound indicates a serious hard drive problem, and getting the data back from these fault requires engaging a skilful data recovery company who will be able to extract the data from the harddrive.

Transcend StoreJet Stopped Working

Question: My external hard drive (1TB Transcend StoreJet) has recently stopped working. Every time I plug it in to a computer it turns on, but says drivers have failed to install and thus it can’t be accessed.
I wanted to know how long does it normally take for you to examine a hard drive and recover data?
Please email me back. Your help is greatly appreciated.

Answer: This could be a problem with the drivers rather than a problem with the external hard drive. My first recommendation would be to plug the hard drive into a Mac and see what happens. Mac’s don’t use drivers as such and therefore plugging to device into a Mac should get past this problem. If the hard drive still fails to show up then you will have a faulty hard drive. Don’t worry if that hard drive shows up and you are unable to read it. Incompatabilites between Windows and Mac systems exist and you might not be able to read the data from the hard drive BUT you it will show up on the system.

Questions about Broken Hard Drives

September 23rd, 2016

In this post we look at three example hard drive problems and give recommendations on identifying the problem and applying the solution to extract the data from the hard drive.

Is Hard Drive Repair Worth It ?
My external hard drive is clicking and not connecting to my macbook so I know it is broken, I do not want a data recovery if possible to avoid it as I’m just wanting the hard drive fixed. I am wondering if you’s fix external hard drives? Thank you.

It’s not really financially worth fixing a hard drive. As hard drives are so cheap to buy, it works out more expensive to fix them than it would be to buy a brand new one. So, if you don’t need to data recovering from your busted hard drive, just buy a new one instead. You’ll get a warranty with it too.

Hard Drive Not Being Found
I have a Seagate 1gb usb hard drive. The light is still lit up when connected to computer, I have brought a new lead just in case it was that, unfortunately it is not being found on any computer. What do I need to do to get the drive to work?

Buying a new lead was a good idea as sometimes that’s all the problem is. Now that you’ve done that and eliminated the lead it’s worth eliminating the external case. Remove the hard drive from the casing and hook it us directly to your computer using a USB to SATA cable. If that works then obviously the case is at fault. If the hard drive is still not being found then the conclusion is that there is a fault on the hard drive. There are some things you can do yourself to try and repaid your hard drive – go and take a look at the web resource for some good tips of getting the information of off broken hard drives.

Getting the Data off a Packard Bell
I would like quote for the cost of recovering data off a Packard Bell Store & Save hard disk drive Model No H2D2U2 6948820100, particularly the family photos.

You don’t actually say what the failure with your hard drive actually is. Can you provide any more information ? In the above question I mention the Recover Deleted Data web resource – I recommend that you take a look at this site as well, you may be able to find what the problem is with you hard drive and read the advice on getting the data off of it too.

3 Questions about Data

September 1st, 2016

Three questions in this post. All about data and it’s loss. The first question concerns a faulty Mac hard drive, the second an overwritten video tape, and finally a question about converting and reading data in an old format.

fixing a hard drive problemQuestion: I have a 1tb WD My Passport for Mac ext hd, last week out of nowhere it stopped showing up on my laptop (I always eject before unplugging). Went to Apple store and they said it might be a b tree failure?! It has lots of photos in it. Can they be recovered?

Answer: The b-tree is the system Mac’s use to store data on storage devices like hard drives. From experience, it’s very unlikely to be a problem with the b-tree, as the hard drive would still show up on your laptop. More likely is a hard drive problem of some kind. Is the hard drive making any different noises at all? You can find a good explanation of hard drive problems, including their symptoms in this hard drive diagnosis walkthru –

Question: I have a video tape containing data that was accidentally overwritten. The video was at the beginning of the tape and the duration was around 30 minutes. When I re-wind the tape to the beginning I can see the very start of the overwritten video for a fraction of a second before it cuts to what overwrote it.

Answer: Oh dear, when data is written to video tape it entirely overwrites what was written underneath it. There is no chance of recovering this data. I is gone. I found this useful link explaining how camcorders work here

Question: Do you have the ability to unload and export into either ASCII or EBCDIC, data provided in either AS400 SAV.OBJ or SAV.Lib format contained on a LTO5 tape? if so what is your pricing model and typical lead times and where does the conversion process reside as the data would need to stay within the EU.

Answer: EBCDIC code? Good grief, I haven’t heard that word for about 20 years, when it was an alternative to ASCII, I think ICL mainframes used to use it. LTO5 tapes are a little more recent and I know where to get those converted but I don’t know whether they support AS400 or EBCDIC formats.

More next time! Keep your questions coming!

Help With Data Recovery

August 2nd, 2016

windows error messageThis week I’ve been investigating the world of data recovery. Data recovery is a very interesting subject and something of a “dark art”. The techniques companies use to retrieve information from devices like hard disk drives and mobile phones are shrouded in secrecy because it’s this knowledge that gives these firms their competitive advantages. Here are just of the enquiries received by data recovery service providers in the UK.

> Unable to Boot A Server
Hi I have a customer who has had a server fail on them we are no longer able to boot the server or run a repair i have had the drives out and bought the relevent cables and software to extract the data from a raid 5 but i have had no sucess the drives are 4 x HP 146 gig SAS drives can you help.

> Serious PC Problems
After large thunderstorm, serious problems. PC will start and yellow HD warning light comes on, disc starts to spin up, then dies and it keeps repeating this cycle. HD is Seagate Barracuda ST500DM002 500GB. External backup HD completely dead, power light does not come on. HD is Seagate ST3500418AS 500GB.

> Nexus Tablet Stopped Working
My Nexus Tablet stopped working in June and I’ve tried several people to see if they can repair it and they can’t . What I’m concerned about most is the photos that I’ve lost. Are you able to recover them and if so, at what cost and approximately , how long would that take?

> SSD Hard Drive Problem
I have a problem with my current SSD model : SSD 960go CRUCIAL M500
SSD not booting in BIOS system due to a failure of the electronic circuitry and internal cell of the flash memory
Failure of many cells in the NAND memory due to electric shock. These do not allow access to data in the SSD

> Broken Screens
Broken Screen on iPad 2 Mini and iPhone 5. Not sure if this is something you do or not, but if so, would love to send the business your way to help justify the sponsorship of the great Richie Allen show.

> Two Ticking Hard Drives
I have two drives that are clicking:
1. Seagate ES.1 1TB
2. WD Blue 500GB

> iPhone Water Damage
My iphone, having received water damage, no longer responds – ie won’t turn on or show any sign of life.
Whereas I’m quite happy for the iphone itself to be consigned to the scrapheap, I’d like to recover the data (in particular the photographs) that are stored on it.
Can you be of any assistance?

So if you have a similar problem to any one those listed above, just look on this blog for a data recovery specialist – they are a few recommended.

So Many Hard Drive & Phone Problems

July 5th, 2016

Samsung Galaxy S6 Factory Reset

my phone (Samsung Galaxy S6 edge) has performed an unexpected factory reset an I have lost all my pictures and videos. Do you think you would be able to recover them? If so, how much would it cost and how long does it take for the files to be recovered? Would this be performed at your London Lab (EC3V 9LJ) or will you have to send the phone away? What happens if you are not able to recover the files – is there a charge for the attempt?

WD Passport Not Recognised

My Western Digital My Passport 1TB external hard drive is now not recognised by either PC or Mac. When the drive is connected, the drive power light lights up and the drive makes a sound ( starts with the normal spinning disk sound but continues like a stutter ) but does not show any icon on desktop as an external hard drive on either my pc or mac. On PC it shows as an icon on my devices but ca not be opened to view any files. On Mac a message pops up with “The disk you inserted was not readable by this computer.”
No sensitive personal data is on the drive but the drive is nearly full with original photo RAW files i am in need of recovering. Thank you.

External Hard Drive Motor Busted

Basically my external hard drive motor is potentially bust or something is trapped as I dropped my hard drive :( and well, I have tried an icy box and other external adapters as the hard drive is now out of its original case and another technician had tried to recover files but has been unsuccessful; he advised me about the motor and suggested some sort of forensic recovery. Please help, It has my life and university work on there.
I am in work until 5:30 so I am unsure if I can take a phone call.

iPhone Switching Off

The phone turned itself off and then back on again before showing 0 photos when i know i had over 15,00 very special and precious photos. Now the iphone wont update even using itunes and i cant extract the data and pictures even using paid software such as dr fone. As the data is so special i would pay anything to get them back and even pay if you can recommend someone who can do such a task.

Laptop Not Recognising Hard Drive

My laptop got stood on and after that it doesn’t recognise the hard drive. I tried reseating it myself. Didn’t work. It was taken to a shop and they weren’t able to retrieve my files. They suggested it get sent to a clean room in America, which I’m not willing to do. I would like a second opinion.


Questions about Problematic Hard Drives

June 13th, 2016

In this post I reproduce two questions I received from customers about their problematic hard drives. If you have a problem with a hard drive and would like me to advise of what can be done retrieve that data then contact me and I’ll see what I can do for you.

Buffalo Hard Drive Retrieval

I am unable to open my buffalo hardrive and wondered how much retrieval might cost?

As Buffalo make many different types of hard drive the answer to your question depends upon what model of hard drive you actually have. Single hard drives are cheaper to recover the data from than units that contain more that one hard drive. Normally Buffalo external hard drives that feature more than one disk are raid systems – and these can be very expensive. I dug out the following details of a decent data recovery company from England that gets good reviews: I suggest you reach out to them if you are serious about getting the information back from your problematic hard drive. They should be able to give you a range of costs for their services.

Hard Drive Recovery in London

I have a 500gb Western digital WD blue ssd hd that makes a clicking sound. there is data on there (not to bothered about it) but wanted the actual hd repaired. how much would it cost im in feltham west london so would like the address of the chiswick branch so i can drop and collect.

The address of the hard drive recovery lab is Chiswick is 556 Chiswick High Road, London W4 5YA, their webpage is

As a general rule, repairing a hard drive is not cost effective. A new hard drive with a dedent storage capacity can be bought for around £50, and hard drive repair work is done by data recovery companies and this costs hundreds of pounds. Therefore, if you are not bothered about getting your data back, buy yourself a new hard drive instead of using a data recovery company.

Lacie Hard Drive Beeping

May 31st, 2016

I have a Lacie single drive and it wont power on. When connected to the computer it makes a few beeping noises and then stops and doesn’t work. The light still turns on.

lacie hard drive requiring data recovery serviceThe beeping noises are unfortunately errors signals coming from the hard drive that tell us that your HDD has a serious problem. For one reason or another, the motor that rotates the hard drive is unable to spin the platters. This can be for two reasons. Either the motor is broken and no longer works, or there is something that is preventing the platter’s rotation – a common problem that causes this is known as stiction and is where the heads of the hard drive become ‘welded’ to the platter surface. Freeing the stiction is a job fraught with danger as it is very easy to damage both the heads and the platter surface of the hard drive. My recommendation would be to use a data recovery company, see the link towards the bottom of this page.

Hard Disk Not Working
I have two hard disks, both 2tb which have both stopped working. I would like to recover the files from them.
How much would this cost?
How long would it take? I will be in Manchester from tomorrow until Sunday. If it is longer then a mate may take delivery of it for me.I have a WD My Passport that has stopped working. It was clicking so was sent to another data recovery company, who opened it up but said they couldn’t do anything with it. (I don’t believe they did anything other than open it and look to be honest, but I cant prove that), but since it’s return, it hasn’t been clicking, but still doesn’t get discovered on my PC.
I would like to recover the data on it and have another 500GB drive I can provide you to put it on.

As you are in Manchester my suggestion would be to take your disk along to a local hard drive recovery company. Data Clinic are one such company that have a lab in Bury, Greater Manchester. It’s not good that another data recovery company has opened up your hard drive, it would be good for know what they’d actually done (if anything). Some companies that have a good reputation do take good care when working with hard drives. Other places are little more than glorified amateurs with no idea what they are doing.

Possible Electrical Fault on Hard Drive

May 17th, 2016

I received this question earlier today from a reader of this blog:

“Hard drive failure, unable to access data. When in the laptop, nothing would boot, and i believe bios also wouldn’t start. (i don’t know whether that was a laptop issue too or not, the laptops fine now with a new hard drive) The old hard drive will start and doesn’t make any unusual sounds.
If you could kindly advise on potential costs for the data recovery to include the potential need of a clean room.”

Hi thanks for your question. So you have two hard drives? The latest one doesn’t boot but the older one still works fine with no problems?

When using the old one it also inhibits some of the other computer functions such as the BIOS not starting? My guess is your hard drive would be a Seagate and it has some form of electrical problem. I’m saying this from experience, I seen many hard drives over the years that have developed electronic faults which in turn prevent the computer from switching on. The data should be ok and retrievable once the electronic fault on the hard drive is fixed.

Costs for repairing this type of fault are usually no more than £400. The job is also unlikely to require a clean room as there is no need to dismantle the hard drive and remove the lid.

How Much Does Data Recovery Cost ?

April 18th, 2016

No matter what type of data recovery service you require, there’s always going to be an associated cost for doing it. Prices in the UK vary from location to location. As an example the price of data recovery in London is significantly higher in London than it would be in Glasgow or Manchester. This is due to the usual factors of supply and demand. In London the demand for hard drive data recovery is usually between £50 and £150 more expensive becuase there is so much demand, and suppliers can usually pick and choose which jobs they want to take on.

How much does it cost?So, whilst London is the most expensive UK location for data recovery, Sheffield and Liverpool, cities that are both in the North West of England are the cheapest. In order to save money some people send their hard drives up to Sheffield and Liverpool from London to save a few quid.

Here are some standard enquiries about hard drive recovery services, recieved from all over the country. I’ve added links to sites that provide further information where I could. Costs for data recovery vary according to the type of problem. Prices usually start at around £300 and have a top end of around £1000.

“I have a G-Force, G-Drive Mobile USB external hard drive that has about 1T worth of memory. I have a lot of important things on it but the USB port got bent inside of it so I cannot plug it into my laptop anymore. Is there anyway to repair this or to at least recover the data?”

“I have a hard disk which failed, 1000gb desktop SATA, I believe it was the motor, as it just made a small whirr and click and repeated the click over and over. On bad advice I opened the case. I immediately knew not to touch anything and closed it again, but it was not in a protected room so it’s quite possible that some very fine house dust would have landed on the platter at this stage (I recall seeing a single speck on the platter before closing). I did not attempt to boot the disk again after closing the case. Can you tell me how likely it is the data can be recovered, and how much would you charge for this?” Drives that make whirr and click noises have faults with their read / write assemblies – take a look at the information on Data Recovery Tips if you are looking to try and recover the data yourself.

“My Imation 1TB external hard drive stopped working all of a sudden. It does not appear on mu computer list but appears on device manager list. Light is on and can hear the spinning sound in side. I have very importanat data inside which i don’t want to lose”

“Hard drive with all my family photos will not load. When plugged into laptop it lights up and spins but theres also a clicking sound. Hard drive size is 250gb i believe.” This enquiry is very much like the whirr and click enquiry above. Again in this instance the fault is probably located in the head stack assembly”

As you can see, there are lots of different scenarios that require a data recovery service, and the cost of this service varies depending on the type of fault and what location you send the hard drive to.

Checkpoint Encrypted Disk Won’t Boot

March 12th, 2016

Endpoint Full Disk Encryption is a software product produced by Checkpoint and allows computer systems running either Windows or Max OS X to encrypt the contents of their hard drives. This has the effect of making the information on those drives useless should the drive be stolen or otherwise. To decrypt a hard drive encrypted with Checkpoint FDE it is necessary to enter the password when the system first boots. Decryption of the files is handled ‘on the fly’ so it is important that the FDE system runs on a machine powerful enough to handle this. If a FDE enable system won’t boot, this presents a significant problem in retrieving the data from the hard drive.

Hard Disk Encryption iconWhilst the software may be well written and relatively bug free, the hard disks it runs on are often of the mechanical HDD variety – which is based on 40 year old technology that relies on moving parts. Additionally other nasties like bad sectors develop on hard drives and any problem on a drive will hinder the operation of FDE. Interestingly there’s a new post about recovering the data from a hard drive encrypted with Endpoint (see that had developed these problems and no longer worked. The only option was to send the hard drive to Data Clinic and hope they could recover the information.

The Checkpoint FDE software can run on multiple disk systems too, including Network Attached Storage (NAS) hard drives and the larger RAID 5 servers. Of course these systems are far more complex than their single drive counterparts and the problems faced by repair companies are significantly enhanced should problems begin to develop on the hard drives from a NAS or RAID server. As yet I am unaware of any company that has been asked with recovering the data from one of these systems that has been encrypted with the Checkpoint software, although this is bound to happen at some point.

Regular NAS and RAID systems that don’t use encryption are still more complex than single disk to repair and recover. Data Clinic (link above) should be able to handle data retrieval from these systems but there are other companies that offer the same type of service too such as for RAID recovery and for all popular hard disk types.

In all cases, make sure you do your own research and review what other people say about the company before you make your choice on who to use. Checkpoint’s FDE is a complex product and any hard drive that uses encryption is a much trickier proposition to recover the data from than a hard drive that doesn’t, so make sure you use a well known data recovery company rather than one that is not well regarded.