Craigslist Data Recovery Experts

I like Craigslist and I am a happy Craigslist customer. However, buying something, I can see and use is much different than finding an expert to do your data recovery.  IMG_4383We have advertised on Craigslist and many other places.  The difference though is we are a bricks and motors business with a laboratory and certified technicians.  Often we get hard drives that customers have done Do It Yourself repairs and recoveries. Increasingly we are seeing those that are looking for a cheaper recover turn to self-identified experts on social media and places like Craigslist. All we can say is buyer beware.  Anyone offering Data Recovery in these places without a real business location, city and state licenses might not have the skill, abilities and equipment required to actually assist you.

The image included here is showing fingerprints on the inside of a clients hard drive directly on the data platters. This work was done by a “Craigslist Data Recovery Expert”. This expert didn’t have the correct understanding of physical hard drive recovery processes and procedures.

If you do want to get services from someone on Social media sites, you might want to ask them some questions first:

  • What’s your specific background in data recovery?
  • What is your training in the data recovery field?
  • How many hard drives have you recovered data from?
  • How do you diagnose a hard drives issues?
  • Do you have a clean environment to open a hard drive if that is required?
  • How many hard drives have you done a physical recovery on?

This is a short list (and there are potentially many more possible questions), but the answers to these questions as the consumer should be very specific.  Someone responding to these should be complete and detailed.  Anyone avoiding answering the questions might not have the skills you require to be successful.

As always, we give free advice and a free evaluation. If you are still interested in having the Craigslist expert work on your  hard drive, at least you will do so better informed and able to ask the right questions.

Do It YourSelf Data Recovery projects

“I have (Fill in the blank here)…..

 I used free data recovery software I downloaded from the Internet but they all failed and stated “Could not read data, bad sectors”.

 So I attempted to open my (Fill in the blank here)….. which was a bad idea.

 My plan is to buy the same make and model (Fill in the blank here)…..  and replace the PCB (or heads or whatever else they read on the Internet to fix their perceived problem) if that does not work I wanted to know how much it would cost to recover my data? “

Do it Yourself recovery is a common occurrence today in the data recovery industry. Just look at Youtube for the number of DIY recovery videos posted regularly. There are many legitimate data recovery companies offering advice on doing data recovery there but they all recommend if you want your data back contact a reputable data recovery company to get your data back.

So is there any time that DIY recovery can be acceptable? Certainly, but not in every situation and not for every skill level. First of all a data recovery company when it receives a hard drive has to identify where the drive failure is occurring. Watching a Youtube video or listening to it click will not tell the untrained where the exact problem is, and in fact misdiagnosing the issue can lead to doing a DIY recovery method that could make things even more worse then you started.

Data recovery specialists spend a lot of time, money, training and tool acquisition to identify, repair and recover your data. So the next time you decide that a DIY project is a good idea, think about how much the data is worth and can you live without it.

Wiping your data

You decide that you want donate your computer to your local charity or a family member. However, you have read the articles about all the data that remains on your hard drive even if you delete the data. How is it that your personal data can be removed from the drive so no one else can see it?

Early in their use of computers, the U.S. Government recognized that hard drives (and now solid state drives) retain lots of data. Some of this data is easily accessible in the “User” area and some less accessible in the systems areas of the hard drive. Prior to replacing the hard drive the data needs to be permanently removed from the hard drive. The process of destroying the data started with a simple writing of any character over all the data area of the drive. The concept of what we now call “wiping” has developed into a standard employed across the U.S. Government and adopted worldwide a sbest practices for wiping hard drives.  The standard developed as U.S Department of Defense  standard DoD 5220.22-M. It outlined the recommend methodology for destroying data using software methodology. The standard listed suggestions from a single pass of the data area with random characters to 30 passes over the data.  This methodology has changed and most in the field recognize that based on the current hard disk drives configuration a single pass sufficiently destroys all the data for non-classified storage devices.  Classified storage devices are physically destroyed. All of the recommended methods of data wiping are just that, recommendations.  The agency retaining the data has to decide the method and procedure required to destroy the data based on the data’s significance.

The National Institute of Science and Technology (NIST) released in December of 2014 an updated version of its Guidelines for Media Sanitization.  Some of the recommended factors to be considered are included from page 11:

“Organizations should consider environmental factors including (but not limited to):

  • What types (e.g., optical non-rewritable, magnetic) and size (e.g., megabyte, gigabyte,and terabyte) of media storage does the organization require to be sanitized?
  • What is the confidentiality requirement for the data stored on the media?
  • Will the media be processed in a controlled area?
  • Should the sanitization process be conducted within the organization or outsourced?
  • What is the anticipated volume of media to be sanitized by type of media?
  • What is the availability of sanitization equipment and tools?
  • What is the level of training of personnel with sanitization equipment/tools?
  • How long will sanitization take?
  • What is the cost of sanitization when considering tools, training, verification, and reentering media into the supply stream?”

These are all good things to consider in a small business and may still be relevant in our personal decision making process.  The NIST guide describes types of data deletion as Clearing, Purging or Destruction.  Clearing and Purging relate to the actual overwriting of the data on the drive and Destruction is the physical destruction of the hard disk drive.

For the average computer user the most likely question becomes what is the intended use of the hard drive after the data destruction.  Its generally that you want it to work after the data is removed or you don’t. If you want it to work, a data wiping program is the most useful tool or technique. In this case the data is destroyed and the hard disk drive can be reused. Physical destruction is just that, the data drive is no longer accessible due to the physical destruction of the hard disk drive. The government’s consideration of destruction is usually the use of a large shredder or destruction device capable of dealing with hard drives. However, most physical destruction to the drive (hammering in until its flat) will make the data unrecoverable for the average persons intentions.

Another old school method of destruction is the use of a Degausser (commonly used in destroying data on tape). Degaussing as defined by NIST is:

“To reduce the magnetic flux to virtual zero by applying a reverse
magnetizing field. Degaussing any current generation hard disk
(including but not limited to IDE, EIDE, ATA, SCSI and Jaz) will
render the drive permanently unusable since these drives store track
location information on the hard drive.”

The magnetism required has to be sufficient enough to change the magnetic field on the drives platters. Smaller older Degaussers can render the drive inoperable but may fail to destroy the data on the drives platters. The NSA has an approved list of degaussing tools that can be found in their Deagausser Evaluated Products List.

Something you may want to consider also is getting a certification of the data destruction. Once the data is destroyed verifying the destruction is a normal part of the process. Using data wiping tools the person or company verifying the data destruction can look at the data storage space and see that the data was destroyed. Using physical methods such as shredding, the drive owner can see that the drive is physically destroyed.  Degaussing as a method is the only one that has a difficult level of determining the data’s destruction.  Providers of data destruction services can provide letters or documents of the destruction.

Whether it is a personal decision or for implementation in a small business your decisions about data wiping are:

1) What is the intended use of the hard drive after the data is destroyed?,
2) What method of destruction should I use?, and
3) What will the cost be for destroying the data?
4) Do I need certification of the data’s destruction.

Any full service data recovery company can assist you with your decision making and will offer one or all of the types of destruction processes mentioned and should offer a certification of the destruction.

Recovering deleted data from a GoPro SD card

The wildly popular video camera GoPro is a significant leap forward in personal video recording. The video format it uses is also a significant leap forward. Mp4 is its identified format, but recoveries of GoPro video’s as not a straight forward find a header and a footer recovery.

GoPro has introduced the ability to put their Hi Def video in the same stream as their low def version. Some many frames for Hi Def and one for Low Def. What this does is severely complicate the process of finding the video’s intact. The header actually has a listing of the parts assigned to each portion of the video and aids in the recovery if the data is present. This requires the video files to be individually rebuilt after their deletion.


My Monkey Broke My Thumb drive…

The telephone calls a legitimate data recovery company gets can sometimes be amazing. Whether a monkey broke the thumb drive, some fluid (coffee or otherwise) was spilled on the computer or the baby chewed on the SD card, recoveries are all different. Sometimes the office intake person is washing quickly after opening a package or after receiving a client’s computer, but our job is to recover the data no matter the circumstance. Any data recovery company having done recoveries after a fire will tell you that the lingering odor of the burnt computer stays in the laboratory.

No matter the client issues the data recovery specialist needs to evaluate the devices problems (and their often can be more than one) and in some cases will have to take time to clean the storage device before the analysis can begin. Each recovery attempt truly is individual and no two are the same from the beginning through the delivery of the client’s data.