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Your Hard Drive is Failing—Now What?

July 31, 2013 at 11:03 am

Don’t panic, don’t lose your cool, and above all, don’t resort to violence—especially against your computer when all the data has been wipped out.  The paradox of a failing hard drive is that the most frustrating event in human history requires the greatest calm. So, stay calm and follow these four simple steps to turn a catastrophic event into a convenient one.

1. Unplug!

When your hard drive begins to fail, power down the computer. Signs that your hard drive is failing include, a clicking sound, an unresponsive or frozen screen, files that become inaccessible or disappear completely, and even the blue screen of death. Hard drives don’t have a self-diagnosis mechanizsm and it is upto the user to detect and diagnose the problem. A hard reboot won’t raise the dead and can actually cause more damage. Depending on the problem, even trying a quick back up can toast your data. The best course to take for a failing hard drive is unplug; as in pull the surge protector out of the wall socket, remove the battery, or if you live in a green home, stop pedaling.

2. Take Inventory

Do you know what is on your failing hard drive? Is it critical? Have you backed up the drive? Is the data replaceable? These are all trick questions because if you can’t answer them with 100% certainty then you shouldn’t even be asking them; and when it comes to data, you can’t remember enough to be 100% certain, that’s why we have computers. Maybe 98% of the lost data isn’t a big deal, but often find people forget about the 2% that when lost, elicits the primal scream of data loss.

It’s not to say that that you shouldn’t take inventory but it should be focused differently. Your inventory should determine the time sensitivity of the data. How soon do you need it? If you have backed it up, do you need to start the process of retrieving data from back up? If you haven’t backed up the data, you will usually find that you need the data sooner than you think. How crippled are you until you have the data? Most of the important inventory questions should be time related questions because seldom you’ll find a hard drive that doesn’t have at least some irreplaceable data. Even your grandma will store something precious and irreplaceable on her computer. Our experience is that few, if any, ever regret recovering data.

3. Trust us

Everyone knows a computer genius. They will know how to recover your data, and because they are your friend, they will do it for free. Wait for it… there’s that primal scream again. Yeah. There goes your data. If data recovery were that easy, places like SalvageData wouldn’t exist. Your friend not only doesn’t have a local Certified Class 10 ISO 4 data recovery cleanroom, he or she probably doesn’t know that you need one.

Data recovery is like brain surgery, you need the right training, equipment, and experience. But even if you could trust your friend to perform brain surgery on you, you shouldn’t trust them to recover your data. Trust us. We know all there is about data recovery. We also do it as quickly as possible so you can…

4. Get back to work

Our economy runs on data; and so does your business. We know how critical your data is to your bottom line. When you can’t access your most important data you are out of business.

Now that you have your data back, you can get back to work. This time keep us on speed dial. Talk to our technicians and bookmark our website to get caught up on the latest ways to protect your data. However, even with all of the failsafe options available to you, hard drives fail and data becomes corrupted, sorry. But even if that happens, folks at SalvageData can help you remain calm and above all, to cut down on the frustration.

You can contact them at the following locations: SalvageData Recovery Services 410 Park Avenue, 15th Floor New York, NY 10022 (917) 628-2702

What To Look For When Buying An External Storage Drive

July 31, 2013 at 11:00 am

With many systems upgraded to smaller internal SSD storage devices and the proliferation of USB capable tablets and smart devices, the need for external hard drives has increased significantly. There is no need to crack open your desktop case or shell out cash for a tech to install an extra drive when you can just plug in an external hard drive and start copying your files. All you need to know going forward is the type of drive and how it will connect to your system.

External Storage Drive Types

There are mainly two types of external storage drives. Most common are the desktop style hard drives. These devices come in a standard 3.5″ style hard drive case designed to sit on a desk and includes a power cord and sometimes a fan cooled system. The second type of external storage drive can be called a “pocket” drive. These drives come in a 2.5″ or 1.8″ size enclosure and use a communications cord to both connect to the system and receive power to operate.

Both styles of external hard drive are available as a mechanical drive, SSD, and SSHD. The type best suited for your implementation will be up to the planned everyday use of the drive. Mechanical external drives are normally larger in storage capacity, come in both 7200 and 5200 rpm variants, and are the least expensive of the choices. SSD and SSHD variants are much faster, cost more, and are hampered by limitations when not matched up to an equally fast communication cable.

External Storage Drive Connection Choices

The largest limiting factor for high-speed external storage devices is the communications cable. Most devices come standard with USB 2.0 technology, which is limited to around 480 Mbps. Devices that use USB 2.0 cannot take advantage of SSD, SSHD, or 7200RPM drive benefits. If you are limited to USB 2.0 then you should consider choosing an inexpensive large mechanical eternal storage drive.

Other options for external storage drive communications are USB 3.0, Firewire, eSATA, Thunderbolt. Each offer increased speeds over USB 2.0 but require very specific connection ports on the home device. If you are looking to add an external storage device that uses one of these communication protocols be sure that your system is compatible.

Final Choices

After the main points of choosing your external storage drive have been decided upon, the final options tend to be stylistic or are value added options. Many external drives come with installed programming that will assist with backups, other external drives come in a rainbow of colors and enclosure styles, while still other external drives offer extended warranties that cover data loss and recovery. Consider each carefully and choose the best fit for your system.

 

What to Do When a Hard Drive Makes Clicking Sounds

July 31, 2013 at 10:55 am

Clicking, grinding and whirring sounds are among the most common hard drive failure symptoms. The noises indicate that one or more of the hard drive’s mechanical components have failed, and if your hard drive begins clicking, you will need act quickly to ensure the best possible chances of a successful data recovery. Here are a few important steps to take if you notice clicking sounds coming from an internal or external hard drive.

Immediately Shut Down the Hard Drive. Clicking sounds occur when a hard drive’s actuator heads malfunction. The role of the actuator heads is to read and write information from the platters that store your data.

If the heads malfunction, they can come into direct contact with the platters. This causes immediate data loss as the heads scrape against the magnetic coating of the disks to create rotational damage.

The longer your drive runs after a mechanical failure, the higher your chances of severe platter damage and data loss. As soon as you hear repetitive clicking sounds, you should shut your hard drive down.

Do not boot the drive to try to access data. You might be able to see a directory listing, but by attempting to copy your files, you will allow the actuator heads to damage the exact tracks and sectors where your most important data is located.

Never run data recovery software, as commercial utilities work on a filesystem level. They cannot fix physical media issues, and running data recovery programs will only make the situation worse. Keep your drive turned off until you can speak with a qualified data recovery professional.

Note Any Symptoms That Preceded the Failure. Failure symptoms can hard drive data recovery engineers differentiate between common mechanical problems. Note whether your drive slowed down significantly before the clicking sounds began and whether you have recently experienced power failures or power surges.

Data recovery engineers will also want to know your operating system, filesystem and the age of the hard drive. Most hard drives have a rated life of 3-7 years, but actuator head issues can occur at any point in a hard drive’s lifespan.

Make a List of Critically Important Files. This will help engineers determine the likelihood of a successful recovery. Larger files are more likely to sustain sector damage than smaller files, but experienced engineers can reconstruct your data if your hard drive’s platters are in relatively good condition.

Find a Safe Data Recovery Company. To treat actuator head issues, data recovery engineers need access to a certified Cleanroom. Cleanroom technology prevents harmful media contamination, which is a potentially serious issue for the sensitive platters and actuator heads of a modern hard drive. Human hair, fingerprint oils or even a single piece of dust can seriously damage a hard drive during mechanical repair procedures, and a Cleanroom prevents this type of damage through a series of advanced environmental controls.

Your data recovery provider should also follow appropriate security protocols when handling data. Look for a provider with several relevant security certifications and ask to see certification documents. Reputable providers engage in third-party laboratory audits to provide consistent service.

SalvageData operate a certified Class 10 ISO 4 Cleanroom and hold certifications from all major hard drive manufacturers. Contact their customer service team at SalvageData Recovery Services 8770 W Bryn Mawr Ave #1300S Chicago, IL 60631 (312) 878-1270 to set up a free hard disk drive media evaluation or for more information.

 

Western Digital Black 4TB Hard Drive

July 31, 2013 at 10:49 am

The SSD is an excellent high-performance platform for storage devices in any system, yet the price per GB of storage is still significantly higher than the standard and reliable Hard Disk Drive systems. Add to that the differences in total storage size between the HDD and the SSD and now a smart gamer looking to upgrade his system begins to waver between the two.

The largest reason to keep the old standard HD technology is the storage sizes. As todays digital media moves into the higher definition standards, media and data storage capacity is at a premium. Many gamers are resorting to combining a fast SSD with a large HD to maximize the benefits of both technology types while most gamers on a budget continue to stay with a single drive configuration focused on the reliable technology of the HD and its extended sizes.

In an effort to show the benefits of the newer generation of Hard Disk storage, we will take a look at the Western Digital Black 4TB Hard Drive. In order to keep the information comparable to previously shown drives, the same four categories from previous posts will be used.

Drive Specifics: Western Digital Black 4TB

Buffer Size 64 MB

Product Specifications
Interface SATA 6 Gb/s
Performance Specifications
Rotational Speed
Average Latency Load/unload Cycles 300,000 minimum
Transfer Rates
Buffer To Host (Serial ATA) 6 Gb/s (Max)
Physical Specifications
Formatted Capacity 4,000,787 MB
Capacity 4 TB
User Sectors Per Drive 7,814,037,168
Physical Dimensions
Height 1.028 Inches
Depth 5.787 Inches
Width 4.00 Inches
Weight 1.72 Pounds

The Four Main Categories to Look For: So how does the Black 4TB stack up?

1. Quick Read/Write Speeds: First, for a gaming system, you really want to have the best read/write speeds. The Black 4TB uses a drive speed of 7200 RPM with a latency of 4.20ms and a reported, by Western Digital, transfer rate of 154MB/s. This compares favorably to other non-SSD drives, but is significantly lower than the 0.1ms latency and 400MB/s read and 300MB/s write times of the SSD.

2. SATA III Support: The Western Digital Black 4TB features the SATA 6GB/s transfer speeds associated with the SATA III protocols.

3. A History of Reliability: The Western Digital Black series of drives is a known commodity from an established and well-respected manufacture. In addition to this, the Western Digital Black 4TB hard drive comes with a manufacturer’s warranty that is 5 years in length.

4. Price: As of the writing of this post, the Western Digital Black 4TB drive is listed on Amazon.com for a price of $285.53. That gives the Black 4TB a per/GB price of $0.07. Compare that with the Samsung 512GB SSD price of $0.88/GB, which is more than 12x the cost of the Black 4TB’s cost/GB.

Conclusion:

All in all, the Western Digital Black 4TB Hard Drive is an excellent representation of the platter style technology. The Black 4TB shines in three of the four main categories for gaming performance drives, but is not able to compete with SSDs for access speed. In cases where storage capacity outweighs access speeds, the Western Digital Black 4TB will be the drive to buy.

 

Using Partitions to Avoid Hard Drive Data Loss

July 31, 2013 at 10:48 am

The surest way of having a faster performing hard drive is through partitioning. For many computer users, this is a good enough reason to set up appropriate partitions when installing a new operating system. Many users do not realize that partitions can also protect the hard drive against several common data loss scenarios.If you are not familiar with the terminology, a partition is a logical division of a hard drive. Desktop operating systems display separate partitions as separate drives; for instance, an HDD with two partitions might show up in Windows Explorer as C: and D: drives.

Partitions are formatted separately and may use different file systems. The most common use of partitioning for desktop and laptop computers is to set up separate logical areas for operating software and data. By keeping data separate from a Windows, Mac OS or Linux installation, computer users prevent OS errors from causing data loss. Many operating systems even support specialized recovery partitions, which allow you to restore your OS to like-new condition without an optical disc and without data loss.

To put this simply, if you need to format your hard drive to re-install an OS due to widespread corruption or other logical issues, you will not lose data if you keep your most important files on another partition. Therefore, you can effectively prevent some sources of data loss by splitting your HDD into two or more partitions when you set up your computer for the first time.

Partitioning and Physical Hard Drive Failures

Hard drive owners should note that physical HDD failures are one of the most common causes of data loss, and even with efficient partitioning, all hard drives will eventually experience failing read/write heads, spindle errors and other fatal issues. Some research shows that partitioning may reduce the overall stress on your hard drive’s physical components and allow for better longevity, but the process does not provide perfect protection.

To avoid file loss, you should create an appropriate back up strategy. Use automatic software and regularly check your backups for the best possible results. If you notice any symptoms of physical hard drive failure, you should immediately shut your HDD down and contact us to schedule a media evaluation.

Tips for Effective Partitioning

Never attempt to partition a hard drive that holds important data. Back up your most important files before using any partitioning software and format each partition before using it. The best time to partition your hard drive is before installing a new operating system.

Finally, make sure to choose appropriate partition sizes. Give your operating system room to breathe. On a modern hard drive, you can easily devote 50 to 100 gigabytes to the operating system. Store all of your data on the data partition and keep the operating system partition free of unnecessary files. This means keeping your desktop relatively clean if you are a Windows user by saving large files directly to your data partition. You should also monitor your data usage regularly.

With appropriate partitioning, you will experience better long-term system performance and you can quickly recover from an OS failure without the threat of costly data loss. However, you should always back up your data before re-installing or restoring your system if possible, and you should never re-install your operating system if you believe that your hard drive’s physical components are failing.

If you cannot access important data on a desktop or laptop computer system, us to set up a free media evaluation or for assistance.

Top 5 External Hard Drives of 2012

July 31, 2013 at 10:38 am

Do you need to back-up your data or just increase the capacity of your computer, then look no further than acquiring an external hard drive. Below are the latest models of external hard drives to forever hold your favorites photos, music and documents.

Transcend

Transcend’s StoreJet 25M3 came in a close second to Western Digital’s Passport (a 9.04 out of 10) according to TopTenReviews.com. It is very durable, has up to 1 TB capacity, and it has the transfer speed of 5 Gbps. While Transcend has a wide selection of portable hard drives, they do not sell desktop hard drives.

Seagate

Seagate’s most popular product is the Backup Plus Portable Hard Drive. It comes with extra-nifty features such as “social” backup for all your facebook and flicker photo needs. Plus this hard drive “shares” its contents with a simple click. Desktop external hard drives have similar features, but more memory. Seagate has reliable products, and pretty awesome features, but its price could be lower. None of Seagate’s portable memory capacity has above 1 TB, but the everyday person will be pleased with what Seagate has to offer.

Buffalo Technology

Buffalo Technology makes some of the best portable hard drives. Among their best is the Ministation Thunderbolt. It is known for its durability, shock protection, and thick plastic casing. The Thunderbolt also has a lighting fast data transfer with an interface speed of 10 Gbps! So if you’re looking for an efficient hard drive that can survive a fall and go to work with you, Buffalo has what you need.

ioSafe

ioSafe is all about being prepared for disaster. Not just digital disaster. They’ve designed their external harddrives to take the worst natural disasters. Doomsday preppers would have loved their ioSafe Solo. You can screw it down to thief-proof it. It is both fire and waterproof. It can take temperatures up to 1550 degrees for an half-hour, and it can keep your data safe even beneath 10 ft of water for 3 days. Plus it’s data recovery service will cover any other digital disaster.

Western Digital

Western Digital’s “My Passport Essential” had the best reviews (a 9.45 out of 10) on TopTenReviews.com. It’s no wonder; it’s small (passport size), portable, and holds up to 2 TB of memory—I’d like to see Seagate beat that. Overall, Western Digital has great products that will blow your mind. (Really—2 TB packed into the size of a passport?)

 

Tips for Recovering Data from a Physically Broken USB Drive

July 31, 2013 at 10:29 am

Flash USB drives provide an easy way to transfer data between computers, but they can  break down  due to poor construction or when a user applies to much pressure to the drive chassis. We receive hundreds of flash drives every year, and physical media damage is by far the most common failure scenario associated with these devices.

The good news is that most damaged flash drives are completely repairable or recoverable. USB drives use non-volatile media with no moving parts, and unless the chip that holds your data is physically crushed, there is a little chance of permanent data loss. We can often read physically damaged flash media with dedicated equipment, resulting in a full recovery in only a few days.

However, the actions that you take following a media failure can still affect your recovery costs, turnaround time and the overall chances of success. If you need access to data on a broken flash drive, you should take careful steps to avoid additional media damage.

Analyzing Your Flash Drive Failure

Do not touch any exposed parts of the drive. Flash media is sensitive to contamination and electrostatic discharge, especially when their internal components are exposed to open air. Find an anti-static bag and store the USB drive until you can speak with a data recovery engineer.

Do not run any data recovery software on the damaged drive. Data recovery software can only treat accidental file deletion, virus damage and other types of logical damage. Running data recovery software on a physically broken flash drive may actually cause logical damage, so keep the drive unplugged from your computer.

Carefully inspect your USB drive and note all points of damage. If the device’s printed circuit board is physically broken, it will need to be repaired or replaced in a qualified data recovery laboratory. Do not touch any of the chips or connections in the printed circuit board.

Repair and Recovery Options for Flash Media

Some repairs are relatively easy. As many forum posts note, if the USB head is separated from the printed circuit board of the drive, repairing the device could be as simple as re-soldering the connection. However, USB drives are extremely sensitive, and you should not attempt this fix if you do not have significant soldering experience. Bridging the connections could cause component damage.

It is also important to complete any repairs in a certified, controlled environment. Otherwise, the drive may take on significant contaminant-related damage. While flash devices are less susceptible to media contamination than hard disk drives, you should still avoid any unnecessary risks if your flash drive stores critically important files.

Finding a Data Recovery Company

For the best chances of a successful data recovery, you should not take any chances. Do not attempt to repair the device on your own. Take the USB drive to an experienced data recovery company with a Certified Class 10 ISO 4 Cleanroom. Class 10 ISO 4 standards reduce your risks of media damage by preventing airborne particles from contaminating the laboratory environment. You should also try to find a repair company that holds certifications from major media manufacturers, especially if your USB drive’s warranty is still valid.

We specialize in flash media recovery, and our engineers can analyze media damage to provide a no-risk price quote within 24 hours. We can effectively treat any broken USB drive. Contact us today to discuss data recovery options and to set up a free media evaluation.

 

Dealing with Extreme Weather Data Loss

July 31, 2013 at 10:26 am

Extreme weather – hurricanes, tornados, blizzards, heat waves, and earthquakes – is becoming a more common occurrence in the world today. While you can never fully prepare for the damage that Mother Nature can throw at you, you can take the necessary steps to mitigate the damage you might receive by following the suggestions below.

Common sense tips for protecting your data from extreme weather and improving the chance that damaged or corrupted data can be recovered.

  1. Rising summer temperatures and extended heat waves are becoming a staple of summer and the need to keep your computer equipment cool has never been more paramount. Make sure that your computer is located in a cool and dry location.
  2. This is doubly true for larger enterprise solutions and server hardware. In this case, be sure to have adequate air conditioning capable of handling the high heat produced by today’s faster and smaller components.
  3. In many regions the summer months mean a higher occurrence of thunderstorms and lightning. Be sure to protect your important systems from power spikes and surges by placing a surge protector between the power source and the equipment.
  4. Along with the new surge protector, be sure to purchase an Uninterruptable Power Supply or UPS. The UPS will allow power to still be supplied to your important computer systems in the event of an outage and allow the system to be shut down and backed up properly.
  5. Schedule a regular check of your system’s protections. All of the protection equipment in the world will not save your system if it is malfunctioning. Be sure to schedule a preventative checkup of the UPS, surge protector, and cooling systems every six months to make sure you are still protected.
  6. If your equipment looks damaged on the outside, it will more than likely be damaged internally also – do not attempt to operate this equipment. Take the damaged pieces to a professional.
  7. Do not attempt to repair or disassemble any computer equipment that has been damaged. The processes required for repair or recovery may be impaired by good-natured attempts with do-it-yourself solutions.
  8. Water-damaged media storage should only be repaired by a professional. Do not attempt to open or dry through artificial means.
  9. If the damaged devices are important to you or your business, contact a data recovery professional immediately.

Hybrid vs Solid-State Hard Drives

July 31, 2013 at 10:20 am

In today’s ever expanding PC storage market, the options for replacing aging technology continues to grow. Just a few years ago the only options for storage came by way of the aging tech of platter drives and how much RPM did one have. Now the market is saturated with multiterabyte platter drives, lightning-fast solid-state drives, and an emerging middle ground of the new hybrid drives. How do you decide which drive is best for your system?

Solid State Hybrid Drive

The acronym SSHD stands for Solid State Hybrid Drive and include drives that attempt to combine the best features of Solid State Drives (SSD) and Hard Disk Drives (HDD). On the one hand, the HHD style provides massive amounts of accessible storage on single or double stacked platters with access speeds determined by the rotations per minute (RPM) value.

Opposite of the HDD, the SSD operates using NAND (Negated AND logic gate) Flash memory which offers superior access speeds while having a more limited size and self-life. The SSHD combines these two types of drive systems by including a small amount of NAND Flash memory with a large conventional HDD allowing for increased boot operation speeds and consistent and longer-life data storage.

Solid-State Drives

Solid State Drives operate using a type of flash memory called NAND or Negated AND which is a type of logic gate that allows for the storage and access of data. This style of storage uses no moving parts, which allows for faster access times when compared to the spinning platter design of conventional HDD. Generally, the random access times of a SSD are 0.1 ms with read latency times that are negligible due to the data being read directly from the storage location. Compare this speed to the average HDD random access time of 7ms and the benefits of a SSD become clearer.

So, Which One?

Ultimately, the choice between SSHD and SSD comes down to personal preference and price. If the per/GB price of nearly $1 seems fair and the specter of high-use drive failures are not an issue, then the amazing access speeds of a SSD make it a great choice. If price is a significant issue but you need to increase the speed of commonly used programs on your system, then the moderately priced SSHD seem to make an excellent fit. Either choice will give your system a significant performance boost.

Preventing Hard Drives from Overheating

July 31, 2013 at 10:15 am

Hard drive overheating issues can cause component failures and data loss, and in order to keep your hard drive running, you need to allow it expel the excess heat that comes from regular electronic and mechanical operation. Following these tips will help you extend your hard drive’s operating life and avoid data loss disasters.

Know How Your Computer Dissipates Heat

Cooling systems vary from computer to computer. Many laptops have metal contacts that expel heat through conduction, which will not function properly if you regularly use your laptop on a surface with strong insulation. Leaving your computer on a carpeted floor may allow heat to build up inside the chassis, eventually damaging the hard drive and other components. Keep laptop computers and desktop towers on a vibration-free desk or a hardwood floor.

Most computers have several cooling fans that promote airflow. If you need to replace a fan, make sure that you match the power and size of the new fan to the old fan. Invest in high-quality cooling components and a high-quality power supply unit to keep your computer running smoothly.

Make Sure That the Hard Drive Has Adequate Ventilation

Many PC owners push their computer towers up against walls. This effectively forces hot air back into the PC. Leave at least a foot of space between your computer and any walls, speakers or other objects that could create a blockage.

Keep Your PC Clean

Dust can build up in your PC’s fans and around your hard drive, affecting the machine’s ability to transfer heat outside of the case. Dust can also hold humidity, which will damage hard drive electronics. Regularly check your computer for dust buildup. If you operate your PC in a dusty environment, clean it with compressed air at least once or twice a month.

Know the Signs of Overheating

An overheating hard drive will feel hot to the touch. If you have a high-quality motherboard, your computer might automatically shut off the hard disk if the temperature exceeds a certain threshold. Check your computer’s BIOS to find out whether your system supports this feature. Most personal computers will shut down overheating hard drives when operating temperatures exceed 45 degrees Celsius (113 degrees Fahrenheit).

When a hard drive fails due to heating issues, you may smell burning electronics. This is the solder of the hard drive’s printed circuit board. Immediately shut down any hard drive displaying this symptom, but do no try to cool the hard drive off with fans, compressed air or by other artificial means. Let the drive dissipate heat naturally for several hours before trying to boot it again.

Overheating hard drives might also suddenly turn off with no explanation or make a repetitive clicking sound. These are serious symptoms, and you should never attempt to boot a hard drive that shows signs of a physical or electronic failure. Operating the drive could cause permanent platter damage and extensive data loss.

Overheating issues do not resolve on their own, and you will need the help of a professional data recovery company to regain access to your data. Look for a company that has experience with hard drive electronics. To treat heat-related data loss, a provider needs a Certified Class 10 ISO 4 Cleanroom, firmware repair tools and an experienced engineering staff.

We offer free media diagnostics for hard drives with electronic and physical issues. If you believe that your hard drive has failed due to overheating, contact our customer service team to schedule a no-risk evaluation at one of our facilities.