Archive for the ‘Data Recovery Companies’ Category

*Official* – Most Manufacturer’s RAID Technical Support Is Rubbish

Wednesday, April 2nd, 2014

I’ve been supporting RAID and servers for longer than I care to remember… I think the earliest server (excluding ICL mainframes) that I worked on was an ICL Intel 486 system, back in something like 1992.

This was before Windows and as we know, things have moved on significantly since then. Servers were complicated beasts back then, now they’re even more complex. One thing that really annoys me is 1st/2nd line technical support staff who rather than admit they don’t know what they’re talking about will recommend the wrong course of action because they don’t know any different.

Here’s my response to an email from a customer of ours with a 7 disk RAID 5 server that has significant bad sector problems across several of the disk in the volume. The customer has been told by his tech support to rebuild the array and everything will work fine… WRONG, the rebuild will fail because of the bad sectors across multiple drives. This will cause a huge amount of irreversible data loss for the customer who is a professional video editor.

Hi <X>,

My colleague <Y> has just informed me you’ve been in touch after speaking to tech support regarding your RAID.

The rebuild procedure they suggest will unfortunately not complete successfully due to several of your hard drives having bad sectors issues. Rebuilding is an automated software task that relies on all the drives involved being free from bad sectors. Rebuilding is unable to cope with bad sectors – which are a physical problem. This is why drives with bad sectors have to be recovered using hardware rather than software. I wrote a blog post about this sometime ago, titled something like ’5 things you mustn’t do if your RAID fails’. – take a look at all of it – especially the last point: http://www.dataclinic.co.uk/raid-or-server-failure-the-top-5-things-to-avoid/

As you know, we’ve been doing this long enough to know what we’re talking about, so may I suggest two possible courses of action –

1. We complete the recovery as planned.

Or

2. We first clone all your hard drives (effectively copying them) before returning them to you so you can then try the rebuild. Us having cloned your hard drives means we can go back to the data and perform the recovery when the rebuild doesn’t work.

Rebuilds that are unsuccessful result in massive data loss across the entire RAID and are irreversible due to the old (good) data being overwritten by the new (corrupt) data. It’s one of the largest causes of data loss on any type of RAID 5 system, and we wish tech support companies would stop recommending it as they are assuming all the hard drives in the array are free from bad sectors (which is the reason your RAID fell over in the first place).

Please let us know how you’d like to proceed.

I’ve just emailed this to the customer and await their response.

Data Clinic Lauch Microsoft Exchange Data Recovery

Monday, March 10th, 2014

Data Clinic Ltd - LogoData Clinic Ltd, the well know UK hard drive repair and data recovery specialist has announced a new data recovery service for Microsoft Exchange Server.

Exchange keeps all its data in a large EDB file which can become easily corrupted by a server crash, RAID error, or software corruption. Remember as well that the most common cause of data loss – human error, can also result in EDB files being deleted.

Inside the EDB file are often many individual PST files – one for each user, the Data Clinic service is able to extract these from the EDB file and repair individual PST files where necessary.

Our New NAS File Server

Thursday, January 30th, 2014

NAS with Datlabs linkI don’t know about you, but these days the family environment is a busy one when it comes to IT and computers. My eldest daughter has her own laptop and my youngest daughter has an IPad. They both have smartphones too. As well and texting and all the other things teenagers use their mobile phones for, they also take a lot of photographs that want to save.

Saving this data on the family iMac was fine – there was plenty os space and it was an easy thing to achieve but as time went by there was more and more data to store – more photos, more videos and now music too. Using the internet to search for an answer to my problem, my attention was drawn to Network Attached Storage, otherwise known as NAS. Basically these are devices that connect to the router in your house an allow anyone connected to that router to use them. Great I thought – I’ll get one of those !

So I did, everyone was happy. It came in a nice box with a link to Datlabs NAS Data Recovery Services, who I could call if I needed any technical assistance setting the NAS up and getting it working correctly. I just plugged it in, typed our password and it installed itself on our network. The first thing to do was to transfer all our photos, videos and music data from our family Mac onto the NAS. That was easy – a simple drag and drop operation saw that completed without any problems. There was a lot of data – some 50GB or so… How do teenagers make so much data?? All of which was of course, essential to them.

Anyway with that done I set about cleaning the Mac up and deleting files and folders. Another 30 minutes or so and this was completed. The first thug I noticed was the the machine began to run a lot quicker – which was a result I was very pleased with.

Next I took a look at the configuration of our new NAS device. It’s a 4 disk Linux based storage device that runs RAID 5. This means that the data it holds is spread across the whole 4 disks instead of one. That’s a bit odd I thought but after closer investigation I learned that this was infact a good thing. It allows one drive to fail and my data to still survive without being lost. RAID 5 also provide enhanced data read speeds too – something that was evident from the moment we began using our NAS file server concurrently. My daughters could watch their movies while I was able to stream music from it. This all worked fine – something that we could never do before on the Mac as it was just not quick enough.

So introducing a NAS RAID file server into our home environment has been a great success. Installing it was easy and I didn’t need to contact Datlabs for help in setting it up, I do think I’ll keep their link though just incase anything happens to the NAS that I can’t sort out myself.

Recovering Data From A Failed Council SAN Server

Monday, January 27th, 2014

As a contractor in the computer support industry I come into a lot of contact with servers and RAID arrays. In fact, my main job is looking after the data held on SAN servers and other form of Network Attached Storage. I work for companies and government institutions as a sort of freelance computer troubleshooter and mostly use IBM, Dell and HP server equipment. The Dell servers are typically Dell Poweredge series and the HP kit is mainly Proliant. Again the equipment is hooked up to a SAN data network.

Data redundancy is a big problem of mine, it’s what happens when I inherit old legacy systems that really should have been decommissioned years ago but because of budgetary constraints have continued to be used. I work on several HP Proliant and Dell SAN servers that I’d love to switch off and migrate the data onto something far more up to date like a Dell Blade or IBM X Server system. Unfortunately, I don’t really have any say in buying new equipment.

Older servers and computer equipment fails more regularly, it just does. It wears out, hard drive fail, memory goes bad and UPS’s fail. What greeted me when I came into work last Monday was a failed SAN server array – 12 disks running in a RAID 5 configuration with a hot spare. Analysis of the server logs showed that one of the hard drives had dropped out of the array on Saturday causing the hot spare to click in. This had seemingly worked fine – the hot spare should simply be ‘rebuilt’ back into the array, but instead the whole array had fallen over.

SAN data recoveryIn the server room the SAN’s RAID BIOS reported that three of the hard drives had now dropped out from the array. Well, that would explain why the SAN server was no longer booting the array. What had caused the three drives to fail was at this point a mystery. The server in question was one that ran part of the council payroll so it was obviously important to get the SAN back up and running as soon as possible, but obviously this had to be done in a method that followed best practice. It became my task and no data could be lost in recovering the SAN either.

Now I’m good a IT and SAN server support I’ll admit but when I discover 2 of the 3 drives that had dropped from the array had mechanical faults, the problem was beyond my abilities. I used a data recovery company a few years back but they were no more. Searching online pointed me to a specialist SAN recovery company called RAID and Server Data Recovery, an online review or two told me they could be trusted and that they were recommended, so I called them.

I spoke to RAID and Server Data Recovery’s specialist SAN recovery team who confirmed what I thought already. Some of the drives had mechanical damage and would need clean room attention in order to progress the data recovery attempt. I got clearance for the costs from finance and loaded the SAN server into the car and drove it down to the recovery company.

Analysis showed 1 drive had a head crash while the other two had firmware issues. Firmware is code that runs the hard drive’s operating system. It can corrupt and when it does the hard drive fails. It seemed that this firmware problem was the cause of the SAN crashing and all that needed fixing was the firmware on the two failed drives. This was indeed the case and after the repairs to the hard disks were completed and the drives re-integrated back into the SAN RAID BIOS, the SAN came back online and the data was accessible again. Panic over. The data was fully restored which was the outcome everyone had wanted.

Data Recovery London Save My Life

Wednesday, January 22nd, 2014

Tower Bridge, LondonNow those of you lucky (?) enough to know me will know that I spend a good portion of my time working out of an office in Central London. Some of you may even have visited me there and yes I have tidied up since the last time you visited ! I know I hardly ever tidy up but a new girlfriend in my life means I have to do these things in case she wants to drop in and visit me.

Another reason I had to tidy up was to avoid accidents like the one that happened to me last Thursday. There I was, enjoying my Burger King meal whilst surfing the net. The phone rang and I moved to answer it and managed to knock my Coke over. I’d taken the lid off and the result was the liquid missed my computer but spilt all over my external hard drive instead. It was one of those annoying calls trying to sell me something as well, so to say I was annoyed is putting it mildly.

Anyway I got rid of the call and cleaned up the mess. I then noticed that my external hard drive wasn’t working anymore… Hmm worrying.. I switched it on and off again but got no response, the lights weren’t coming on and the disk wasn’t making it’s usual whirring sound either.

I work to deadlines and although I didn’t have a deadline for that day I did for the week after and my external hard drive contained data that I didn’t have anywhere else. A few phone calls to some friends (yes I do have them) had me looking for data recovery companies or services. People who fix hard disks are not called ‘people who fix hard disks’, they are called ‘data recovery companies’ and finding a good one can be a difficult process. I assumed that all data recovery companies are as capable as each other but this isn’t so. One data recovery company can be rubbish, whilst another one can be good. After looking around I choose Data Recovery London and I’m very pleased I did. They were able to rescue the data on my hard drive and also repair it so that it worked  again. This was a great outcome as all it meant I had to do was plug my hard drive back into my computer again and everything worked ! Thanks Data Recovery London, you saved my life, and quite possibly my job too.

Using a CCTV DVR System to Monitor Your Business

Friday, January 3rd, 2014

CCTV and DVR SystemsSecurity is an important concern for any business.  Having a strong security system is not only important in terms of deterring and preventing theft, but it can also be an important factor in determining your insurance premiums.  Businesses need to worry about theft by local gang bangers as well as employees with access to inventory and the cash register.  Even a full time security guard does not have eyes in the back of his head.  To get the most comprehensive surveillance possible, you need video monitoring.  CCTV DVR systems represent a great system towards these ends.

Closed circuit television (CCTV) cameras are at the heart of any monitoring system.  These provide the watchful eye that scans your shop, potentially 24 hours a day and 7 days a week.  These can be acquired in simple black and white, color, or even with infrared capability.  The latter is especially useful if they will be monitoring the place in the dark.

Each camera is outfitted with a lens that defines the viewing angle.  These lenses can be configured for a very wide fisheye style viewing angle to cover the most real estate possible.  They can also cover a narrow field if you need a close up view with detail, such as perhaps near a cash register where one might want to be able to catch the denominations of any bills pulled out.  Cameras can also have zoom lenses that can pan in and out when controlled remotely.

It is not uncommon for CCTV cameras in such a system to be hard wired directly to a digital video recorder (DVR) which will record all of the footage in real time.  However, many modern cameras are being produced to work without being physically wired in to any other device other than the electrical socket supplying power.  These usually have their own wireless data transmitter that is connected to a wireless router or hub.  This hub then usually connects to the worldwide web and the DVR. The DVR can be either at the location being monitored or somewhere off site where it is secured from being tampered with by employees or thieves.

There are many advantages to this setup.  First, this makes setting up the system relatively easy.  There is no need to worry about running cable lines from various parts of the establishment, which could require substantial refits to the premises.  Each camera in such a system can also be polled remotely using its assigned IP address in real time.  If the DVR fails for some reason, this could be useful for obtaining real time security.  Certain cameras might even have the ability to pan back and forth and zoom in and out.  These could then be controlled remotely using by the IP address with this setup if suspicious activity is observed.

The DVR’s primary function is to collect and store the incoming data.  In older systems this would have been handled by a video cassette recorder (VCR).  The obvious disadvantages of the latter system are (1) the short duration of the tape which requires frequent replacements, (2) the ability to only record one camera per VCR, and (3) the inability to go back and view previous video frames on the tape while it is still a problem.  DVRs solve all of these problems.

DVRs utilize a hard disk to store the data instead of a tape.  All video is digitized at the level of the CCTV and then compressed into a digital file using standard computer video formats.  Due to the speed of the digital processing power of the DVR, it can handle signals from many cameras at once, writing all the data onto different hard drive files as the data comes in.  Since computer hard drives can hold up to four terabytes of data, a lot of video can be stored before the old video would have to be backed up to some other sort of backup.  Since hard drives operate on the principle of random access, one can always go back and view any frame or multiple clips from multiple views simultaneously even though the system is still recording. As you probably know, hard drives can break from time to time and the data on them lost. Should this happen it’s frequently necessary to contact a CCTV or DVR data recovery specialist.

DVRs can be configured as standalone units, like home entertainment center DVRs, or as personal computers outfitted to perform the same function.  A computer DVR will give a business owner much more flexibility in terms of software that can be used in addition to software and hardware expansion possibilities.  However, a standalone unit can be more stable since it is usually not working on a bloated PC operating system that can be prone to crash.  Multiple PCs can be used, one off site and one on site, if crashes are a concern.  The latter configuration also provides some redundancy in case of an outgoing network failure effecting the off site DVR or physical tampering of the data at the on site unit.

CCTV DVR systems have provided business owners with more options to monitor their operations more efficiently. Deterring crime with 24/7 surveillance has never been more easy to install and cost effective.

Data Clinic Help Businesses Recover From Weather Damage

Tuesday, December 10th, 2013

dataclinic ltd logoHigh tides and strong winds combined to defeat flood defences and damage many shops and businesses in Hull this week. Companies, shops and houses were evacuated as flood water disrupted computer systems causing them to crash and their data to be lost. Subsequently IT support companies have been called into many businesses to restore failed computer systems such as RAID servers, stand alone PC and Mac computers. Recovery work is also underway across the region as companies try to restore their computer data and get their businesses back up and running again.

Flooding causes widespread disruption to computer systems and large scale data loss. Hard drives that have been involved in floods are often water damaged and have to be cleaned and carefully dried before attempts to access the data on them can be made. The drying process has to be very carefully managed as once a hard drive begins to dry out its components begin to oxidise. Oxidation of the hard drive must be prevented as it will prevent any type of successful data recovery result. One of the worst things that can be done is for a water damaged and oxidised hard drive to be powered up. Doing so will damage the platters of the drive and destroy the data.

Water damage will frequently break the hard drive controller board by causing a short circuit. Swapping the controller board will no work because controller boards are now unique to the hard drives they are shipped with and contain data unique to that hard drive.

A recommended data recovery company like Data Clinic are specialists in recovering the data from flood and water damaged hard drives. With many years experience in hard drive faults and data recovery they are often the company of choice for many UK businesses and individuals. With regional offices throughout the UK, customers can call in and have their hard disk assessed or take advantage of a countrywide free collection service. Drive faults and damage is assessed and then a price given for the recovery of the data. It’s then the customer’s choice whether they wish to proceed with the recovery or not.

With all the bad weather around the UK at the moment it’s not only Hull that is suffering, many businesses on the East coast of England are also taking the brunt of the poor conditions with shops staying shut and business data going offline. Computers and hard drives are resilient to many things but bad weather is not one of them, and those businesses without data backups are in for an agonising wait while the data recovery firms work at repairing their hard drives and recovering their data.

Whether it’s for your business or personal use, you can’t go wrong backing up your data.  You should always create a backup of your data at least once a month, even more than that if you have a lot of important information that you add to your laptop on a frequent basis. To put it in simple terms, nothing in the computer industry is fool proof.  Hard drives can crash, computer hard disks can get stolen, or be dropped and rendered useless. To ensure that we are never left without our valuable data, we should always create a backup of our information. There are several methods available that ensure data is backed up. Online services that back up data remotely can be used, alternatively so can external hard drives. Another cheap way to back up data and files is to burn them to a data CD or DVD. If you don’t have that much data to back up you could also use a USB memory stick. Preserving data is something you should really look into, especially if you have business material on your hard drive.

As mentioned above, the easiest and quickest way to backup important data is to use an online backup service.  Depending on your internet connection this can take from several minutes to several hours. It is time well spent though because at least you’ll know your data is safely stored to somewhere other than your hard disk should the drive crash. It would be an interesting study to discover how many businesses and households have lost data because of the recent flooding, what percentage of them had made backups and what percentage had to use data recovery services to rescue their data from their flooded hard disk drives.

Protect Your Data

Thursday, November 14th, 2013
Commander Data, Star Trek TNG

Protect your Data! – Ok so it’s a picture of Commander Data from Star Trek TNG… It’s my idea of humour…

No matter what you are doing, if you are using a PC or Mac you’ll be creating and working with data and that data is saved on a hard disk drive. Let us say for instance that you are a journalist.  Journalists use computers to assist them in creating brilliant story-lines and characters for scripts, novels, stories and a lot of other things each day. Picture the scene: you are composing 100 pages of a new novel each day, just to wake-up one-day and discover your hard drive has destroyed it. In the event you weren’t ahead thinking enough to create at least one duplicate of it, you’d be crazy with worry.

It’s good to know there are some of top quality data recovery businesses out there you may call to help recall data similar to this. However, there are means to preserve your writing in the very first place.

Make duplicates of the data – You always need to get a copy of it should you spend hours creating something. Additionally, ensure that copy is offsite, or at least on another hdd. Ideally you ought to save a copy to the cloud if your entire computer chooses to crash.

Upgrade your data copies frequently – It’ll automatically make all of your copies aged if you work in your master copy. So make certain they all get updated each single time you work in the master copy. Be diligent with this – it just takes a couple minutes to-do but should you don’t remember or can’t be troubled, it decreases the ability of the copies.

It’s worth protecting, particularly if you’re in the midst of a big piece of work. Moreover it doesn’t issue in the event you’ve had work released yet or not. You nevertheless wouldn’t need to get rid of a whole novel should you’ve taken time to create one, would you?

Enter normal and great routines – This essentially means make sure you follow the instructions above. Additionally, you ought to occasionally assess the copies are really updating. You may perhaps do this once per week. The final thing that you need is to believe your copy and lose data is excellent – just to open it and discover it is 6 months old.

In a nutshell, take care of your work and understand who to ask for assistance in the event you actually are unlucky enough to loose your data.

Mac Problems In London ?

Tuesday, November 5th, 2013

City of LondonWhilst browsing my way thru many of the data recovery web sites last night my specific aim was to see if any of them had anything different to talk about. Appearance wise they are much the same – but how far do you trust a snappy looking web site? Well it seems to me that many people will judge the quality of the company’s data recover service by the look and feel of it’s web site. This is an unfortunate situation as some of the worst data recovery companies have the best web sites. My advice in these situations is always to DYOR – Do Your Own Research.

It’s not difficult, just go to Google and type ‘<name> review’, or even if you want a reviews site type something like ‘data recovery reviews’. Interestingly enough there already is a site called this and it provides visitors with the names and contact details of recommended UK data recovery sites. My opinion is that it’s a valuable resource and I’ve used it a couple of times – it’s helped me.

As there are a lot of computer users and data in London I notice that Data Recovery London dot net now has a new web page all about Mac data recovery. Good! a valuable extra information resource to a good website. So now in addition to the general hard disk drive repair and recovery service, their specialist RAID and server support recovery they now have everything Mac related to, so the next time my MacBook Air looses data, I know where to go.

Also I read that Google is now looking at hashtags and maybe integrating them into it’s search results… does this mean I have to start writing #datarecovery after everything? As an interesting experiment I’ll try it for a while and see what happens. In the meantime, thanks for reading and I hope you check back again soon.

Recommended Data Recovery Specialists (UK)

Tuesday, October 22nd, 2013

recommended data recovery companies in the UKIf you’ve ever suffered from hard disk failure or data loss you know what it’s like. Your family photos may be stored on an external hard drive that you’ve accidentally dropped, or your important business data was safely stored on the company NAS or RAID server until the server crashed and your data went with it.

I can think back to the turn of the century when the business of data recovery was extremely niche: there were only about 5 or so companies in the entire UK who specialised in recovering data from failed hard disk drives. The irony is that there still is this number BUT now there are hundreds of other companies who claim to be able to recover data.

When a hard disk fails it usually means that a part inside the drive has broken No software is going to be able to do anything about this because there’s a part that is physically damaged. The only way to recover this data is that have the part replaced and the drive rebuilt. This is an extremely technical process and requires specialists who know what they are doing.

But if your hard disk has broken and you need the data off of it how do you know you are sending it to a good company? Fortunately in the UK there is now a new website that provides up to date reviews of UK data recovery companies. If a company is good, the web site will tell you. If another company is bad, the web site will tell you. It’s a very good and trusted data recovery resource.

Hashtag: #datarecovery