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.

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.

Counterfeit Flash Memory

Counterfeit media is not new to the flash memory market. However, the increase in the number of counterfeits chips we have been seeing is notable. Counterfeit chips to the untrained eye look exactly like the real one. They may have even come out of the same factory. But there is usually identifiable differences in the media upon closer examination. If the media is functioning there are methods of identifying the whether the chip is real our not.

Commonly the counterfeiters will use a smaller sized storage chip then listed on the packaging and loop the code in the chip to respond as if it is a much larger size. If the chip is not responding correctly, examining the physical device, controller chip and storage chip can give the data recovery specialist  ready identification of the counterfeit. The counterfeiter often will have spent a lot of time trying to make the exterior of the product, such as flash media (SD card or thumb drive) look like the original. However, the coding on the chips will be wrong or non-existent.

The manufactures information imprinted on the chips is something that data recovery specialists use to identify the chips and how they are designed. Without this information, it can be very difficult to recover the data. With the correct information, the data recovery specialist can run the chip make and model through various websites to acquire the correct chip design and layout to aid in the clients data recovery.

Music Server Recovery

Its not unusual to see odd data recovery jobs walk in the office. This one was one where the client had a music server that stopped working and needed to recovery his 450 gigabytes of music back. This was odd in the fact the company making the music server had gone out of business and could not longer support the product. The client had tried to recover the data himself but the drive was not recognized by his Windows computer.

As always we conducted an initial analysis and examination to identify any possible mechanical or electrical issues with the drive. IN this case the drive was functioning properly. A review of the data area initially revealed no file system or data.  A review of the partition table in a hex editor found no normal partitions. There was data in the normal location that the partitions should exist but it was not in the correct location or normal format. We were able to identify the partition naming convention uniquely used by the manufacturer and ultimately found that the drive had old FAT16 and FAT32 partitions. Following the end of one partition entry to the beginning of the next we were able to chain the partitions together and identify the four partitions (of the eight) that held the customers data. Using X-ways forensic tool we rebuilt the partitions and identified the file structure and the data files. This of course was not the end of the work.  The music server company had applied a unique formatting to the individual music files. The first sector of the file contained information about the author, song name and album. Then there were three empty sectors before the correct music file header information was located. Cutting these first four sectors and saving the file allowed the music file to play properly.  We did this for one file, but remember there was 450 gigabytes of music files.  In house we built a script to recursively go through each file, open the file, cut the first four sectors and save it again. The script was able to correct the file headers so we could provide the data to the client.