Frequently Asked Questions

In many instances, yes. Like other mechanical components, hard drives are subject to mechanical failure over time. It is not a question of if, but when. Common signs of mechanical failure are:

  • Clicking
  • Ticking
  • Grinding
  • Humming
  • Buzzing

If your hard drive is making any strange noises, do not continue to power on the drive or attempt DIY software recovery tools as this can result in further damage to your hard drive and quickly lead to permanent data loss!!

If a hard drive has experienced mechanical failure you need the experience and expertise of a professional data recovery service to recover your data. DRG has one of the highest success rates in the industry which is largely due to our extensive background in hard drive repair, we also carry the industries largest parts inventory of hard drive components.

Unfortunately not all hard drives that have suffered these types of mechanical failure are recoverable and should go through an evaluation process to determine the extent of the recovery. Contact Data Recovery Group today for a free consultation.

Data Recovery Group has four convenient locations strategically located to best serve you. If you prefer to bring your drive(s) in to one of our locations click on the links below for directions:

Data recovery is the process of retrieving deleted or inaccessible data from failed electronic storage media such as computer hard disk drives, removable media, optical devices and tape cartridges.

Your data can become inaccessible due to a software problem, computer virus, mechanical or electrical malfunction or a deliberate human act.

Regardless of the cause of your data loss, our experienced technicians are able to successfully recover lost data 70% - 75% of the time.

All media received goes through an extensive analysis to determine the condition of the drive.

Step 1 - We will determine whether the problems are physical (hardware), logical (software structures) or both.

Step 2 - If the determination is physical, we then determine whether the needed parts for repairs are in our extensive inventory or if we will have to source them from our vendors.

Step 3 - Once we have access to the drive we will make an absolute sector-by-sector mirror image of your hard disk to our equipment where the process will continue.

Step 4 - The next step is to evaluate the condition of the data structure & determine how much of the data is salvageable.

Step 5 - When the evaluation process is completed, we will contact you with the results of the evaluation & tell you exactly where in the original price range your recovery will fall. We will need your approval to proceed from this point.

We strive to have the evaluations completed with-in 24-48 hrs of our receipt of the drive. The time required for the evaluation is dependent upon the problems encountered.

Though we maintain an extensive inventory of drives & parts, obtaining parts for uncommon drives may add to the length of time required for the evaluation.

If other technicians have attempted to recover the data using disk utilities and have damaged logical structures, the process may be lengthened.

Imaging alone may take up to 24 hours of computer time with extensive re-tries for badly damaged devices.

If the evaluation is to take longer than the standard 48 hours, a representative will call to explain the nature and extent of the problem you & keep you apprised of the progress of the evaluation.

Click here to see our service levels.

Most recoveries will be completed in 2-5 days. Upon receiving your drive at DRG, our technicians will diagnose the problem and determine if data can be recovered.

Next, we will determine exactly what procedures will be involved and how extensive the damage is, then furnish you with a verbal report. If you wish to proceed with the recovery process, your job will be placed in the job queue and your data will be recovered in the order it was received.

Expedited Data Recovery

If you should need this service, a dedicated technician will be assigned to your drive within 4 hours of the time that we receive your hard disk. Working on your drive (during normal business hours) until the recovery is complete. This process will normally cut your turnaround time in half.

Emergency Data Recovery

We realize your need to have special services occasionally (weekdays, holidays, and after hours). If your situation is critical, we will try to make arrangements for a technician to be available who will be assigned to work on your recovery until complete.

Our goal is to return your data to you within two to five working days. However, because of the complexity of data recovery there will be times when it will take longer. After performing our initial evaluation, we will provide you with an estimated time to restore your lost data.

While most disk utilities provide excellent preventative maintenance by fixing minor problems, they can render data unrecoverable in the event of extreme corruption. Follow these tips to help ensure your drive and data safety:

Save an "undo" file (a record of the changes the utility has made to your drive), in the event it does not correct your problem. By sending this file along with your drive to us, you help ensure recovery of your data.

DO NOT use a utility program if it does not allow you to save an "undo" file of the repairs it makes. If your drive makes any unusual noises, DO NOT attempt to use any type of utility software.Damaging sounds include clicking, buzzing or scraping. Unusual sounds are indicative of a damaged head mechanism or a head crash. Shut down the computer to avoid further damage to the drive and its data. Send your drive to us for professional recovery in our Cleanroom environment.

Yes. There are instances where the damage to the hard drive is so severe that data recovery is not possible. This usually occurs when the read/write heads actually "crash" and gouge the magnetic storage media to the point where the data is destroyed.

However, in a number of cases data recovery was possible at the time the damage first occurred, but became non-recoverable through the use of commercial recovery software. This software is designed to recover data from working drives. If your drive has experienced a mechanical or electrical failure, the use of recovery software can cause permanent loss of your data

Data Recovery Group offers clients a secure environment so that you can rest easy knowing that your information is kept private. Every member of the DRG team is under non-disclosure. The evaluation and recovery process is conducted in secure labs with controlled access to ensure the confidentiality of your data.

We have unwritten non-disclosure agreements with all of our customers, but if your legal department requires a written agreement it should be faxed to the nearest office for processing.

Click here for more information on our data security policies.

Yes. The development of high-capacity laptop hard disks has enabled us to establish advanced techniques in data recovery technology. As these drives are very small in comparison to desktop drives, the internal mechanics are miniature versions of their desktop counterparts, and so special tooling, equipment and handling procedures are required to facilitate the recovery of the data from these drives.

Typical problems that we have seen with laptop computers are due to mechanical or electronic failure, where either the drive does not spin at all, or if it does, then quiet but persistent clicking or buzzing noises can be heard during powering up - this particular problem is mainly due to an internal head amplifier failure or, more seriously, a head crash or misalignment problem - the majority of which are recoverable.

Data recovery from laptop computers are priced the same as for desktop machines and despite the miniature mechanics, we have an exceptionally high recovery rate from these type of hard disks, and have performed data recovery from all manufacturers of notebooks and laptop hard disks, including IBM, Toshiba, HP, Sony, Fujitsu, Hitachi, Maxtor and others.

Click here for more information on our laptop recovery services.

It is extremely important your hard drive is packaged carefully to avoid any additional damage during shipment. Only your drive is required for data recovery. If we are required to remove a hard drive from the computer an additional charge will apply.

Packaging the Hard Drive

Wrap the hard drive in an anti-static material. If an anti-static bag is not available to you, a freezer bag will suffice. We recommend shipping the drive in its original manufacturer's packaging. If this is not possible, pack the hard drive in a sturdy corrugated cardboard box twice the size of the drive, with heavy foam padding, bubble wrap or other anti-vibration materials. Do not use Styrofoam peanuts as they attract static electricity. Be sure the padding material is at least two inches thick around the drive.

Water Damaged Hard Drives

If your drive has suffered water damage, please do not dry it. Enclose the drive along with a damp sponge in a sealed plastic bag to prevent it from drying out. Recovery is more likely if our engineers receive the drive before it has dried.

Controller Boards

When recovering from older models, we may need you to send the controller along with the drive. Please remove the controller carefully, enclose in an anti-static material and ship along with the drive.

Other

Please package all other types of media, following the guidelines above for a typical hard drive.

Locations

Ship the drive directly to the recovery facility nearest you:

California
1821 Marina Blvd.
San Leandro, CA 94577
(877) 819-3373

Michigan
21800 Melrose Ave., Suite One
Southfield, MI 48075
(877) 825-1784

North Carolina
7512 E Independence Blvd., Suite 100
Charlotte, NC 28227
(866) 590-6429

We recommend shipping via UPS or Federal Express domestically and DHL internationally, using next day service. If you elect to use another carrier, we suggest using an overnight service.

If you have any special shipping considerations, questions or concerns, please contact our offices at either of the numbers above.

Backup, Backup, Backup

The reality of hard drives is that they are going to crash sometime. It is not a question of if, but when. Nothing can prevent data loss better than performing routine backups of all your data. Users can save hours, days and weeks of downtime by minimizing their data loss through routine backups. A good anti-virus software package, updated regularly, will also offer some protection against data loss.

If you have experienced a hard drive failure and don't have a backup in place, speak with a Data Recovery representative about purchasing a new external drive with your data recovery...Now is the time!!!

The adage in the industry is not "if my drive fails", but rather, "when my drive fails". While your hard drive has many electronic components, it also has moving parts. Over time, these mechanical components can fail as the result of use.

Diligent maintenance such as anti-virus scanning, sensible backup procedures, off-site storage of mission critical data, together with knowledge of your limitations, should prevent you from becoming one of the many casualties of data loss.

Avoid Heat & Vibration

All drive components, both electronic and mechanical, are sensitive to heat and vibration. Keep your computer in a dry, controlled environment that is clean and dust-free. Set up your computer in an area with very little traffic to ensure that it does not get bumped. Heat and/or vibration are two of the leading causes of hard drive failure.

Back Up Your Data

The surest way to avoid data loss, even if your hard drive fails is the back up your data. If you don't have a network attached drive at your fingertips back up your most important files to an external drive at least once a week (See External Drives below).

To avoid premature drive failure:

Run Scandisk

Scandisk examines your hard disk for logical inconsistencies and damaged surfaces. Run it every two or three weeks just to be safe. It is very important to save any changes to a floppy until you are sure that the changes that you are about to make will not adversely affect your hard drive.

Run Defrag Frequently

Files most likely, will not be stored in adjacent clusters. Defrag rearranges the data on your hard disk so that each file is stored in a set of contiguous clusters. This is very important for data recovery, since success is more likely when the damaged file's clusters are adjacent to each other.

Anti-virus Software

Use anti-virus software and update it at least four times per year.

Use An Uninterrupted Power Supply (UPS)

In the event of a surge of electricity, black out, brown out or lightning strike, a UPS can protect your system from electrical damage. A UPS is also a back up power source that keeps your computer running for a short period of time, giving you the opportunity to properly save your work and shut down, avoiding a potential data loss.

Be Cautious Using Recovery Utilities

Use diagnostic and repair utilities with caution. Verify that your utility software is compatible with your operating software. Never use file recovery software if you suspect an electrical or mechanical drive failure. Always, always make an undo disk when you allow a utility make changes to your hard drive.

External Drives

DRG strongly recommends purchasing an external drive to use for a backup of your systems data. There is no preference from one external drive to another although we do recommend to purchase a external drive (enclosure) that has a fan built in. External drive (enclosures) with a fan are not common and can sometimes be tough to find but if you shop around they are available. Fans can assist the drive in maintaning a proper temparture and have been known to prevent common mechanical issues that occur from expansion and contraction of internal hard drive components. Schedule a backup of any important personal files and pictures on a regular basis. Most operating systems already come with a backup routine built in, also most external drives that you purchase typically also come with a software backup utility.

If you suffer a data loss, please contact Data Recovery Group immediately. The most important thing is to not attempt any repairs yourself. Trust your data to Data Recovery Group engineers who have the experience, expertise and tools to recover you data without damaging your system.

Backups should be performed on a regular basis. The frequency of your back ups will depend upon the maximum acceptable amount of work that would be lost in the event of a catastrophic failure.

While data backups would seem to offer an effective shield against threats, backups do not always provide comprehensive data protection. That is because the data backup plans developed by many companies are not fully realized or, worse yet, not followed. What is more, individuals often fail to test the restore capabilities of their backup media. If the backups are faulty, a simple data loss can quickly become a data disaster. Finally, even if backups are successful, they only contain data collected during the most recent backup session. As a result, a data loss can potentially rob you of your most current data, despite your backup attempts.

complete backup is a full backup of the entire server or PC client hard drive. For a server, this includes all volumes, directories, and files. For a PC client, this includes all drives, directories, and files.

partial backup can be any of the following:

Differential - Copies all files that were changed since the last complete backup. Differential backups are useful when it is important to have the latest version of each file. If the same media is used for consecutive differential backups, the newer versions of backed up files are often allowed to overwrite older versions of the same file. Typically, backup programs do not reset the file's archive bit after a differential backup, the archive bit remains turned on until the next complete backup.

Incremental - Copies all files that were changed since the last backup. This type of backup is used when each revision of a file must be maintained. If the same tapes are used for consecutive incremental backups, the newer versions of backed-up files are not allowed to overwrite earlier versions. Rather, the newer files are usually appended to the backup medium. Typically, backup programs reset the archive bit following each incremental backup.

User-defined - Copies a user-defined set of files. Often this is a special backup requested by a group of employees on a mission-critical project.

Clearly the amount of backed-up information varies with the type of backup selected. No matter which method that you choose, NAS, External Drive, DVD's, follow a schedule and periodically verify all backups have completed successfully.

When purchasing a hard disk drive it is important to understand and verify the hard disk drive is suitable for your use and has or does not have the options you may or may not need. Unfortunately with hard disk drive technologies changing everyday it is can be sometimes confusing and frustrating when looking to purchase a hard disk drive.

Over the last few years, the reliability and storage capacity of hard disks has increased dramatically to meet the demands of powerful and disk hungry operating systems. However, there are occasions where hard disks fail.

We at Data Recovery Group have experience with every hard drive manufacturer and do not believe that any one manufacturer is better than another. We believe that every drive manufacturer can and will experience issues with their products from time to time.

One very good guide is to base your decision on the experience friends or coworkers.

A virus is a program that is attached to other pieces of code, so that when the user tries to run the original program, they also unintentionally run the virus code. The virus code is designed to replicate itself and "infect" other programs, possibly in a modified form, and may also exhibit other behavior as well.

In order to be a virus, this program must have the ability to run without the user wanting it to and/or create effects that the programmer wants but that the user did not want or request. It must also have the ability to "infect" or modify other files or disk structures, and replicate itself so it can spread to other files or systems.

A virus does not necessarily have to trash your hard drive or exhibit other malicious behavior, in order to be a virus. While many viruses do damage files and disk structures, many are just nuisances or exhibit "prank" behavior such as playing music on the PC speaker or putting funny phrases on the screen when the system is booted.

There are three major types of viruses, each very different from the other. Of course, there are many subcategories within each group as well.

  • Boot Sector Infectors: Also sometimes called boot record infectors, system viruses, or boot viruses, these programs attack the vulnerable boot program that is stored on every bootable floppy disk or hard disk. This code is executed by the system when the PC is started up, making it a juicy target for virus writers: by installing themselves here they guarantee that their code will be executed whenever the system is started up, giving them full control over the system to do what they wish. They are spread most commonly through infected bootable floppy disks.
  • File Infectors: These viruses directly attack and modify program files, which are usually .EXE or .COM files. When the program is run, the virus executes and does whatever it wants to do. Usually it loads itself into memory and waits for a trigger to find and infect other program files. These viruses are commonly spread through infected floppy disks, over networks, and over the Internet.
  • Macro Viruses: The newest type of virus, these clever programs make use of the built-in programming languages in popular programs such as Microsoft Word and Microsoft Excel. These programs allow users to create programs that automate tasks, called macros. As the macro languages have become more powerful, virus writers have created malevolent macros that, when opened unwittingly, duplicate themselves into other documents and spread just like a conventional virus would. These programs can cause just as much damage as regular viruses, despite the fact that they are very different: regular viruses are low-level machine language programs while macro viruses are actually high-level interpreted BASIC programs! The most common type of macro virus right now infects Microsoft Word documents.

A cleanroom is an environment where airborn particulates are controlled through an exchange of highly filtered air using a high efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filtering system, and through minimization of activities that generate particles.

class 100 cleanroom maintains less than one hundred particles larger than 0.5 microns in each cubic foot of air space.

In addition to particle control, the cleanroom is temperature and humiditycontrolled to 70F, 45% RH.

SCSI stands for Small Computer Systems Interface, which is widely used in medium and large systems. SCSI is an industry-standard interface and generally offers faster transfer rates than does ATA/IDE, the interface most commonly used in desktop PCs. In general, ATA/IDE is considered easier to implement and less expensive but does not offer as many features as SCSI. SCSI can support both the connection of many devices and the connection of many devices over long distances.

RAID is an acronym for Redundant Array of Independent Disks. Fundamental to RAID technology is striping. This is a method of combining multiple drives into one logical storage unit. Striping partitions the storage space of each drive into stripes, which can be as small as one sector (512 bytes) or as large as several megabytes. These stripes are then interleaved in a rotating sequence, so that the combined space is composed alternately of stripes from each drive. The specific type of operating environment determines whether large or small stripes should be used.

Most operating systems today support concurrent disk I/O operations across multiple drives. However, in order to maximize throughput for the disk subsystem, the I/O load must be balanced across all the drives so that each drive can be kept busy as much as possible. In a multiple drive system without striping, the disk I/O load is never perfectly balanced.

Some drives will contain data files that are frequently accessed and some drives will rarely be accessed.

Striping Disk Drives

By striping the drives in the array with stripes large enough so that each record falls entirely within one stripe, most records can be evenly distributed across all drives. This keeps all drives in the array busy during heavy load situations. This situation allows all drives to work concurrently on different I/O operations, and thus maximize the number of simultaneous I/O operations that can be performed by the array

More information on RAID.

First the disclaimers. Disaster Recovery Plans need to be tailored to the specific computing environment. In the small and midsize business market your IT professional is the best person to evaluate your specific situation. A good publication to read is the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), Special Publication 800-34, Contingency Planning Guide for Information Technology Systems.

Studies have shown that ignoring disaster recovery planning can be hazardous to your businesses health and survival. We never know when we might loose our data to a lightning strike, a fire, a flood or to simple hard drive failure. The data recovery business has grown helping companies and individuals recover data they never expected to loose.

Steps small and medium size businesses can take to prepare for a data recovery disaster:

Concerns if your facility is unavailable

  • Who is responsible for creating the recovery plan?
  • Where would you and your employees work if your office were damaged?
  • How quickly could you acquire replacement equipment and furniture for your staff?
  • Do you have any critical applications that are not compatible with current generation operation systems?
  • How would you restore key applications such as your accounting system?
  • How quickly can you switch internet and phone to you new (or temporary) location?

Backup

  • Where are your key data files located?
  • How these files are backed up?
  • How often do you back up key files?
  • How do you determine that the backup has run correctly?
  • How often do you verify and test the restoration of these files?
  • How often does the back up media go offsite?
  • How often do you replace your backup media?

Physical security

  • How do you protect data backups against loss or tampering?
  • Who has access to your company's technology assets?
  • Are your technology assets locked up to prevent tampering?

Protecting your Computers

  • Are your computers protected by battery backups?
  • Do you have antivirus and anti spyware programs running?
  • Are your antivirus and anti spyware patterns up to date?

Data is returned on CD or DVD-ROMs. The files on the disks have their "read only" attribute set because the CD or DVD-ROM is a "read only" device. The files on these disks cannot be modified or changed on the on the disks themselves. In order to have the ability to modify these files they need to be copied to you hard drive. After the data has been copied to the hard drive the "read only" attribute must be unchecked to allow modifications to the files.

Before copying the files onto your hard drive, please make sure you have a bootable system with sufficient free space to hold the recovered data. Data Recovery Group returns the data files only. Actual programs should be reinstalled from the original sources prior to the transfer of the data.

For a windows machine:

  1. Place the CD/DVD-ROM into the CD/DVD-Rom Drive.
  2. Double Click the "My Computer" icon. You should see the icon for both your hard drive and your CD/DVD-ROM drive.
  3. Double click on the CD/DVD-ROM drive to see the recovered data. Verify that all of the data files and / or folders are present.
  4. Double click on the hard drive. We recommend you set up a folder on the desktop named "Recovered Data". This folder will become the initial destination for your data.
  5. Copy the files from the CD/DVD-ROM to the "Recovered Data" folder.
  6. After the data has been copied from the CD/DVD-ROM to the hard drive, the "Read Only" attribute must be unchecked. Select all of the files within a folder by using your mouse to highlight them. Right Click the mouse to bring up the Properties Box. Uncheck the "Read Only" attribute box.

The data can now be loaded and modified directly from the hard drive.

In many instances, yes. Like other mechanical components, hard drives are subject to mechanical failure over time. It is not a question of if, but when. A common sign of mechanical failure are strange noises such as:

  • Clicking
  • Ticking
  • Grinding
  • Humming
  • Buzzing

If your hard drive is making any strange noises, do not continue to power on the drive or attempt an software recovery tools as this can result in further damage and quickly lead to permanent data loss!!

If a hard drive has experienced mechanical failure you need the experience and expertise of a professional data recovery service to recover your data. DRG has one of the highest success rates in the industry which is largely due to our extensive background in hard drive repair, we also carry the industries largest parts inventory of hard drive components.

Unfortunately not all hard drives that have suffered these types of mechanical failure are recoverable and should go through an evaluation process to determine the extent of the recovery. Contact Data Recovery Group today for a free consultation.

Data Recovery Group has three convenient locations strategically located to best serve you. If you prefer to bring your drive(s) in to one of our locations click on the links below for directions: