Hard Drive Recovery Services?

Henro

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This may be a long shot...but people here have varied experience so here goes.

I have a couple hard drives that failed close together, and have some photos on them that I would like to recover. Yes, I had a third back up, but that was lost too, and I hate to mention why, so I won't.

This happened a couple years ago, just at the start of the pandemic, and as the result I did nothing but put the failed drives in a drawer to address later.

Anyway, I have these two drives that failed before the pandemic, they are Seagate drives. one is a 1.5 TB and the other is 2 TB. They both hold (held?) the same pictures.

Just wondering if anyone has suggestions as to where I might send one or both of them to get evaluated. I did get the name of one place that did this kind of work, and they on the phone quoted $900. I forgot to ask if they have a senior discount...LOL...Might pay half of that for a success, but even with success not sure the photos are worth that much to me.

Anybody have suggestions as to where I might get a more reasonable estimate for attempted data recovery?
 

William1

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First, I'd try to connect the drives to a regular PC that has a good quality drive controller and there are some free 'recovery' applications that may be able to access the drives. Often this has limited success.
Most recovery places take an identical drive to what failed, remove the platters from your bad drive (usually it is a head failure) and install into thier drive, then copy the data to a new drive.
 
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Lil Foot

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First, I'd try to connect the drives to a regular PC that has a good quality drive controller and there are some free 'recovery' applications that may be able to access the drives. Often this has limited success.
Most recovery places take an identical drive to what failed, remove the platters from your bad drive (usually it is a head failure) and install into thier drive, then copy the data to a new drive.
I had exactly that procedure down to a Seagate drive from an old Mac years ago.
It failed in the middle of running a backup, so I had no current backup, as that particular program over wrote the old back up with the new, so I lost everything.
A recovery shop used the above procedure and saved everything. Seemed expensive at the time ($199?)
but still well worth it.
 

sagor

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If you can get the drive running on another machine, try the utility "photorec". It is geared to specifically find photos, amongst other files, but mainly photos. It can scan sectors and find some photos without proper headers or directory entries.
It is free:
 
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jyoutz

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This may be a long shot...but people here have varied experience so here goes.

I have a couple hard drives that failed close together, and have some photos on them that I would like to recover. Yes, I had a third back up, but that was lost too, and I hate to mention why, so I won't.

This happened a couple years ago, just at the start of the pandemic, and as the result I did nothing but put the failed drives in a drawer to address later.

Anyway, I have these two drives that failed before the pandemic, they are Seagate drives. one is a 1.5 TB and the other is 2 TB. They both hold (held?) the same pictures.

Just wondering if anyone has suggestions as to where I might send one or both of them to get evaluated. I did get the name of one place that did this kind of work, and they on the phone quoted $900. I forgot to ask if they have a senior discount...LOL...Might pay half of that for a success, but even with success not sure the photos are worth that much to me.

Anybody have suggestions as to where I might get a more reasonable estimate for attempted data recovery?
Have you tried a regular computer repair shop? Just a thought.
 

jyoutz

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This may be a long shot...but people here have varied experience so here goes.

I have a couple hard drives that failed close together, and have some photos on them that I would like to recover. Yes, I had a third back up, but that was lost too, and I hate to mention why, so I won't.

This happened a couple years ago, just at the start of the pandemic, and as the result I did nothing but put the failed drives in a drawer to address later.

Anyway, I have these two drives that failed before the pandemic, they are Seagate drives. one is a 1.5 TB and the other is 2 TB. They both hold (held?) the same pictures.

Just wondering if anyone has suggestions as to where I might send one or both of them to get evaluated. I did get the name of one place that did this kind of work, and they on the phone quoted $900. I forgot to ask if they have a senior discount...LOL...Might pay half of that for a success, but even with success not sure the photos are worth that much to me.

Anybody have suggestions as to where I might get a more reasonable estimate for attempted data recovery?
Interesting. I just watched a TV commercial for a local computer repair shop. They mentioned data recovery from hard drives as one of their services. I’ll bet some of your local shops can also do this.
 

mikester

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It's expensive because it takes a lot of time. Don't expect a perfect recovery, you will likely end up with a lot of mangled data, missing file names etc. We paid for a recovery once at work, I personally wouldn't try it again.

If you want cheap, try to find/buy a used working identical HD, swap the discs and pray.
 

GreensvilleJay

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'failed' ? usually 1 of 3 ways
1) power supply/ fan failure
2) PCB 'brains'
3) the 'bubble'
#1 is rare and usually as long as the LEDs are lit, good sign the PSU is OK. BUT, check the cooling fan !!
so it's a flip of the coin..
#2.. find another Seagate unit(working of course), with the SAME PCB 'brains' PCB in it. Verify the PCB part numbers and revisions are the SAME. Remove it's 'bubble'(the actual harddrive),place aside(mark it !), install YOUR bubble, power up and test. If you computer is happy and you can read the HD...great, you KNOW it was the 'brains' PCB.
#3.. if #2 didn't bring you joy, it's a bad 'bubble' , Harddrive. to 'recover' that could cost big bucks. They use 'low level' software to read each bit of each sector or each track...a long and tedious process. wasn't too hard with small drives ,but yeesh a TERRABYTE IS a big drive.

'failed' ? also could mean the BIOS/OS/PC can't find the drive. If you reboot, watch the screen and press 'pause/break' button at the right time, you'll see on the screen all the drives the BIOS finds. If you don't see it, then it'll be a 'brains' PCB failure or possibly the USB cable. Another PITA 'failure' is when the OS(or an app) decides to change the USB drivers/configuration. seen that before.....a ROYAL PITA.

If I actually had a terrabyte of 'must have' data, I'd copy to SSDs, flashdrives or CDs.
 

sagor

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A lot of the local computer shops that advertise data recovery use the same tools that you can get off the Internet. Tools like Recuva, Photorec, etc., which are free (for most of them).
To do a serious data recovery of a crashed disk drive (or failed SSD), you have to go to those expensive data recovery services where they disassemble the drives and try to extract every bit of data they can. That is why they cost so much - long recovery times, clean rooms, high tech equipment, etc.
 

shelkol

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OK,

1. Power up your drive and listen to it. Within 10-20 seconds you should hear the heads 'rattle' a bit as they load and find track 0, This should take 1-2 seconds. If it keeps rattling, your HDA ( bubble, Head Disk Assembly) may be toast

2. If the drive came ready in step 1, you may be in luck. Buy a USB drive box that your drive will fit in. Put it all together, power it up and plug the USB cable into your computer. If it recognizes the drive you can just copy all the files off.

3. If it doesn't recognize the drive, then you may have to connect the drive directly to the PC and then get the software to try to get the data off the drive.

4. If you think you can swap the discs into a good drive of the same model good luck. Unless you are in a clean room, the drive will not last long. Also there are two basic types of drives, separate servo and embedded servo. If it is separate servo head, then the disks must be exactly aligned to each other. Lucking most drives today are embedded servo and this is not an issue. The servo is the mechanism that tells the drive where the tracks are and where the sectors start.

Good luck! I've been testing disc drives since 1975, been there, done that lol
 
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Henro

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Thanks for all the input.

I have been messing with those two drives and I think I am about at the end of my capabilities. I bought two new segate drives from EggHead, one of each size, thinking I could swap control boards and see what happened.

Well, to make a long story short, since with four drives there are 16 combinations possible, although I tried, I did not end up with success. AND it took a while, but I am really fast now at swapping boards on these hard drives! LOL.

The new drives still work fine with their original control boards back on them. All four control boards have the same number and revision number. BUT afterwards I did notice a small sticker on the boards, and while the two 1.5 TB drives have the same number on that sticker, the two 2 TB drives have different numbers on that sticker. I have a suspicion that boards with the different sticker numbers may actually be different somehow, and possibly not compatible with the drive mechanical hardware.

Any way, I really posted hoping that I could get several names of organizations that do data recovery, so I could call around and see what prices are.

Mattwithcats provided one that I will call.

It is not a matter of hooking the drives up to a computer, as I am able to do this, and the new drives are recognized and after setting them up I am able to copy and read data to/from them. AND they still work fine after all my shenanigans...

The first place I called is: ontrack.com

If anyone has any other possible places to contact I would love to hear them.
 

Henro

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OK,

1. Power up your drive and listen to it. Within 10-20 seconds you should hear the heads 'rattle' a bit as they load and find track 0, This should take 1-2 seconds. If it keeps rattling, your HDA ( bubble, Head Disk Assembly) may be toast

2. If the drive came ready in step 1, you may be in luck. Buy a USB drive box that your drive will fit in. Put it all together, power it up and plug the USB cable into your computer. If it recognizes the drive you can just copy all the files off.

3. If it doesn't recognize the drive, then you may have to connect the drive directly to the PC and then get the software to try to get the data off the drive.

4. If you think you can swap the discs into a good drive of the same model good luck. Unless you are in a clean room, the drive will not last long. Also there are two basic types of drives, separate servo and embedded servo. If it is separate servo head, then the disks must be exactly aligned to each other. Lucking most drives today are embedded servo and this is not an issue. The servo is the mechanism that tells the drive where the tracks are and where the sectors start.

Good luck! I've been testing disc drives since 1975, been there, done that lol
I had to laugh because my hearing is nowhere close to what it used to be...so that is wishful thinking, honestly.

Curious, but if the drive is not recognized on boot up, can software still access it? I have no problem connecting these drives to my workshop PC, and the new good ones work fine when I do.

I would never attempt to swap the platter(s) between drives.

These are SATA drives, not sure if this matters or if I mentioned it.

But at this point, I think I need to have someone with expertise check the drives out. But $900 is more that the photos are worth to me...

I was really fishing for possible references to hard drive recovery places that I could call. So far I have two (thanks mattwithcats), and it is a big country, so there should be many more...but I have not found them with internet searches. I will try again...
 

xrocketengineer

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I used RecoveRX (freebie) to recover all the pictures from my daughter's phone SD card. It takes a while if it finds something. If it does not detect the card, drive etc. it comes back quickly and tells you so. The drive needs to be detected by the BIOS but not necessarily by Windows. You might need to use an external enclosure for the drive or something like this.

 
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GreensvilleJay

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The PCBs for the driver ARE different between 1.5 and 2TB platters, there's a firmware number ,that's the one you may have seen. Not only do the PCB part numbers need to be identical, the REV #s have to match, and the firmware as well. I've seen PCBs for 'same drives' be PHYSICALLY different even though the 'major' part number was the same.
Since you've swapped the PCB and the bad drive didn't come alive, odds are the problem's inside the bubble. It only takes a 240 line program to read it, but odds are you don't know any machine level programmers or guys coding in Delphi. You might try Seagate, to see if they have any. Pretty sure Seagate bought out Maxtor, and one of them had DOS based software that did low level stuff. I KNOW DOS6.22 had the abiilty to read any harddrive,used to use it to locate backdoor codes, reset copy counters.
There is at least 1 copy of the drive's 'index info'. If the master is damaged, you can simply copy the 2nd one onto it, should be up and running.
Big problem could be what version Windows you're using. Everything after 98 got 'complicated' with 'layers' and restricted access to 'stuff', big PITA
Still trying to figure out how many 1,000s of pictures you have on one drive. Gotta be LOTS !
 
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dlsmith

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Still trying to figure out how many 1,000s of pictures you have on one drive. Gotta be LOTS !
A few years ago my sister's laptop HD started getting read errors. Had her send it to me, pulled it out of the laptop, put it into a spare computer as a secondary drive and I ran a recovery program on it. I worked for almost 72 hours and recovered about 80% of the files. When I started copying them on to a new drive I discovered there were over 12,000 pictures of her daughter, my niece, on it. Not 12,000 of various people, 12,000 pictures of her. Fortunately all my sister's files were saved, but about 3,000 of my niece's pictures were lost.
Yes, she has gotten help since then.
 
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Henro

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... I discovered there were over 12,000 pictures of her daughter, my niece, on it...Yes, she has gotten help since then.
As a grandparent, I can only think that it was not your sister that might have needed help!

12,000 pictures of the daughter does not sound excessive to me. Ask ANY grandparent!

LOL
 
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Henro

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The PCBs for the driver ARE different between 1.5 and 2TB platters, there's a firmware number ,that's the one you may have seen. Not only do the PCB part numbers need to be identical, the REV #s have to match, and the firmware as well. I've seen PCBs for 'same drives' be PHYSICALLY different even though the 'major' part number was the same.
Since you've swapped the PCB and the bad drive didn't come alive, odds are the problem's inside the bubble. It only takes a 240 line program to read it, but odds are you don't know any machine level programmers or guys coding in Delphi. You might try Seagate, to see if they have any. Pretty sure Seagate bought out Maxtor, and one of them had DOS based software that did low level stuff. I KNOW DOS6.22 had the abiilty to read any harddrive,used to use it to locate backdoor codes, reset copy counters.
There is at least 1 copy of the drive's 'index info'. If the master is damaged, you can simply copy the 2nd one onto it, should be up and running.
Big problem could be what version Windows you're using. Everything after 98 got 'complicated' with 'layers' and restricted access to 'stuff', big PITA
Still trying to figure out how many 1,000s of pictures you have on one drive. Gotta be LOTS !
I am and was using Windows 7 when these drives failed. I THINK that the boards for the 1.5 TB drives have the same firmware, due to a sticker on each of them that shows the same number, but do not really know. Board numbers and revisions are the same on all four boards.

As far as the number of photos on the drives, I do not have a clue, but do know the drives were not full of photos. But likely in the thousands...just a guess since my iPhone now holds something like 50,000 photos. How can this be possible? I don't know either, but my wife and I share photos between our phones. Guess that might be a hint of the answer. We have been using iPhones for over ten years now, maybe 12.

I have so far come up with maybe seven hard drive data recovery services to call. I may be dreaming but would probably pay $400 if the photos could be recovered. I have to remember to ask if they have a senior discount! LOL

The only photos I really miss are what I took when putting in the sewer line from the house to the new sewer that was installed locally. We had no choice but to hook in, and start paying double our water consumption rate monthly effectively. Maybe actually more than that, since sewage is calculated by water consumption, and not necessarily a 1 to 1 ratio. But sewer lines are so reliable that I probably will not need the detail the photos show within my lifetime anyway.

Still, although expensive, I am glad to have sewers, since prior to them being here, the ditch that carries road runoff behind my pond used to smell like a cesspool during summer, due to sewage flowing in it from the septic tanks of several homes up hill.