Phone Data Required

wet phone“I wanted to know if you work with spillages. I had a grease/oil spillage on my phone (OnePlus X) and it’s not turning on/off and not able to charge. Rice didn’t help, of course, as it is not water spillage. Would you be able to clean it / recover it, so that it works? I am not concerned about data on the phone. Also, how much would it cost?

I own an LG G3 and out of the blue have been struck with the ‘green screen of death’. I’m unsure if you’re familiar with this but it’s relating to a kernel error. Safe mode is unavailable so it seems to be a case of performing a factory reset to try to solve the problem.
I have a photo of the wording if it’s helpful but I’m just wondering whether in your experience it’s worth trying to recover the data and if so how much you charge for this.
If you could email me with a response that would be great.”

As long as not too much damage has been done to a mobile smartphone, it is more often than not possible to retrieve the data from it. The method used to recover the data is dependent on how the phone was damaged. Spillages often damage the phone’s circuit board and usually a large internal clean up operation is necessary to remove all the short-circuits. These jobs tend to cost around £300 or so. ‘Green screens of death’ are less of a problem and usually there hasn’t been any damage sustained by the phone, its just a software (or firmware) problem. The cost of data recovery in these cases is around £250.

There are many outlets in the UK that offer smartphone repairs but very few of them have the technical capability to recover the data from a damaged phone. You need to Google ‘data recovery’ and see what you find, alternatively take a look at specialist data recovery blogs such as to get an insight into the types of problems people have and their recommendations as to how to recover the data.

HDD, SSD and Data Tape Difficulty

western-digital-caviar-green-wd10earxHard drive has failed – 1Tb Western Digital SATA WD10EARX. Was fine yesterday – Windows10 64bit – used for data – not the prime drive. On startup this morning did not appear on Explorer. Definitely spinning, possibly some faint clicks, but pretty quiet. Tried it in a Linux PC and wasn’t found there either. We live near Carnforth.

Cruzer SSD has Problems

A Cruzer SSD drive, either 16GB or 32GB capacity, has stopped working.
When plugged in in any port, and any computer, nothing happens. The flash drive has an LED which now no longer lights up, and the computer makes no acknowledgement of its presence when plugged in.
Recently, the computer I use most often has insisted that there are problems with the drive, but when I have told it to scan and fix these, it tells me there are none. It has also suggested that I must format the drive before use, but this was also inconsistent, and removing and returning the drive allowed me to use it without problems.
Although you do not advertise data recovery from flash drives, I sincerely hope you are able to help, as this one contained various important files, some of which have no backups.

Hard Disk Failure on Windows 10 Machine

Hard disk failure. This is our PC’s 2nd drive (D:). Had just recently upgraded OS to Windows 10 which went smoothly as this is a new base unit then when this problem occurred Windows was seizing, presumably looking for the drive which disappeared – so couldn’t access data on this drive which no longer shows in File Explorer. I have disconnected it from the PC base unit. HDSK details are:
Model Samsung HD103UJ

I’m unsure whether this is a problem with the hard drive or is something that has been caused by the Windows 10 upgrade. If more symptoms of the failure can be provided.

Conversion of Data Tapes

sony qd 2120I have 36 x Sony QD2120 Mini Data Cartridges formatted in QIC 80 (120Mb). The data is scientific images and possibly associated files in various IBM PC-readable formats (proprietary). We would like to send them to you for conversion to modern media. I am a little less sure on the original hardware/software used but possibly a Colorado drive . Apart from age of the tapes there is no reason to believe any corruption has occurred.

WD External HDD Broken?

My WD external hard drive stopped working. When I connect it to a laptop I get a message that it needs to be formatted before use. There is blinking and no distinct noises.
I have around 10GB of data, including photos, video and audio files.
What would be the time frame and the costs of data recovery? IT colleagues at work ran basic scan and their software detected a lot of data but could not recover it.

The hard drive is most likely to have bad sectors – areas of the hard drive that have become no longer readable. Otherwise known as “degraded media” it is caused by the magnetic signal that is stored on the hard drive degrading to such an extent that the computer can no longer recognise the signal it reads.

Data Loss: The Golden Rules of what to do when you lose your data

It’s a scenario many of us are familiar with. We attempt to access some data only for the hard drive to crash. Perhaps the drive has emitted a strange noise, or perhaps we’re faced with the dreaded “blue screen of death”. Either way, we are faced with a situation of data loss that needs to be addressed.

Open hard driveUsually the first emotion we experience is one of panic. What should we do? Switch the machine off and hope that by switching it back on the problem will resolve itself? Leave it to cool down and hope that in half an hour it will be OK to switch it back on? Try and find a software utility that will enable access to the data? Google the problem you have experienced and see if you can find a solution on the web? Take the hard drive out, open it and see if you can see a problem?

In the nine years’ experience of running a data recovery company, we have found that many of our clients will attempt some or, in some cases, all of the above, before finally contacting us and asking for advice. We have used this experience to create the seven golden rules of what to do in a data loss situation:

1. Try not to panic

We’re starting with the hardest rule first! Whether someone has lost their wedding video, or the company accounts for the last five years, the initial reaction is to panic. It is important to try and stay calm; the fact is that in the majority of data loss cases, it is possible to fully or at least partly reconstruct the data. Panicking will only lead to poor decisions being made.

2. Power off the device

This is for the simple reason that if the device does not have power running to it, no further damage can occur to the data.

3. Don’t restart the device

Restarting a device with a malfunction is likely to compound the original data loss. This is particularly true if the read-write heads of the drive (an “arm” that hovers above the platters inside the disk) has crashed into the disks.

4. Don’t install new software, or reinstall existing software

Doing this can overwrite some of the data that you have lost, possibly rendering it unrecoverable.

5. Don’t open the disk

The internal mechanisms of hard drives are very delicate and extremely sensitive to motes of dust, temperature changes and air currents. In addition, if you open a drive you will almost certainly invalidate the manufacturer’s warranty. Data on disks sent in to data recovery companies that have been opened in someone’s house have often been rendered unrecoverable by this action. Disks should only be opened in a certified clean room.

6. Don’t use any auto recovery tools

Certain proprietorial tools often do more harm than good, especially if the file system is damaged. This is because they are trying to communicate with the disk through the language of the operating system (eg. Windows), which relies on trying to access the data that may be already damaged. Reputable data recovery companies use specialist hardware which bypasses the operating system and interacts with the disk by using the disk’s own command structure.

7. Speak to a reputable data recovery company

Do an internet search (on another computer) to find a data recovery company. It is advisable to ring several, and to bear in mind that the cheapest may not be the best choice. For example, companies that do not charge a diagnosis fee are liable to either put very little effort into diagnosing the problem, or to put hidden costs in the recovery fee. To ensure you are choosing the right company, ask a lot of questions to try and get a feel for their level of technical knowledge.

Tips When Using Early Seagate Portable Hard Drives

When portable laptop (2.5 inch) external hard drives came out about 6 or 7 years ago, I was very kindly sent a complimentary one by Seagate. These first generation Seagate portable drives used a double USB connection as a single USB connection didn’t provide enough power for the drive.

Single to Double USB cable

A double to single USB cable was necessary to correctly power the early portable Seagate hard drives

Inside the external hard drive casing was a Seagate Momentus 5400.6 500GB, model number ST9500325AS. These 5400 RPM drives are by modern standards rather slow, 7200RPM is more the norm is 2015 but the capacity of 500GB is still a popular size. The drive worked fine, it was rather slow as expected but did it’s job. That was until I lost the double USB cable…

I didn’t appreciate that not having the double USB into single USB cable was going to be a big issue but it was. Plugging the drive in with just a single cable resulted in the drive starting to spin but it wouldn’t been detected by the computer for about 15 minutes or so, and during this time the computer constantly kept picking it up and then losing it. This resulted in several worrying errors – particularly when it was connected to my Mac.

A Seagate ST9500325AS hard drive

A Seagate ST9500325AS hard drive

On one occasion the drive was not detected by either my Mac or any windows machine, there was about 300GB of family data on the drive and I began to panic – what if I’d lost the data? With the advice of the friendly staff at Datlabs,, I was able to recover the data from my hard drive, a fortunate outcome for which I am very thankful.

The solution was to remove the ST9500325AS from it’s external case and use it directly as a slave drive. Removing the case meant that I not longer had to connect the drive using the USB cable – instead I could plug the drive in directly using it’s SATA ports. This solved both the power problem and the speed increased significantly too as the USB connection was a slow one.

So if you find yourself using an old external Seagate portable hard drive and you don’t have the double to single USB cable to power it, take it out of it’s case a plug it directly into your computer using the SATA connections – it’ll work a lot better and quicker too.

What Is the $MFT ?

-= This information is supplied courtesy of Data Clinic Ltd, =-

After a format operation, some important system information will be introduced to the hard drive. This system information is called metadata file. They are not accessible by the users. Each filename of these system information starts with a “$”, indicating that it is a hidden and protected file. In NTFS file system, there are 16 metadata files. In this section, we will introduce the first metadata file of $MFT. The other 15 metadata files will be introduced in latter sections.

All the system data and user data are treated as files stored in NTFS partition. $MFT metadata file is the most important system management file, which consists of all the MFT file records of each file (system data and user data) on the partition. The MFT file record is the place where stores the filename, the file creation date and time, file data location, etc. The operating system retrieves the file content and associated file information mainly from the MFT file record. The size of the $MFT will depend on the total number of files stored on the partition. When the $MFT first created during the format operation, the Windows OS will reserve a certain amount of space for this file. The reserved size can be 12.5%, 25%, 37.5% or 50% of the partition. Another reason to reserve the space is to avoid the $MFT getting fragmented.

The first 16 MFT file records in the $MFT are the 16 system information metadata files. The first MFT file record records the file information of the $MFT metadata file itself. Due to its importance of the $MFT, the system creates a copy of the $MFT and stores it in a file of $MFTMirr. But it is not a complete clone of the $MFT, it only holds the first four MFT file records of the $MFT. The second MFT file record reflects the $MFTMirr.

The DBR sector of the NTFS file system is always located at the first sector of the partition. But the location of the $MFT is determined by the operating system. It is also specified by the content at offset 0x30 to 0x37 of the DBR sector. In Fig- ure 3.1, it indicates that the $MFT is located at cluster 0xC00000 (cluster 786,432). The $MFTMirr is indicated by the content at offset 0x38-0x3F. It is 0x84C403A3 (cluster 61,048,004) in Figure 3.1. The first cluster number of the $MFT is a very important parameter which can be used to work out the configuration of a RAID system. It will be introduced in the chapter of RAID in this book.

Can You Remember Your First Hard Drive?

An old maxtor hard disk driveI can’t not really… It’s a long time ago and at the time I was working for a large computer firm in the UK. It would have been around 1990 ish, may be even 1989, and my job was IT support. PC’s in businesses were quite a new thing back then and as I had just graduated from college and knew comparatively a lot about PC’s I got the job of supporting them.

Now, how big were hard drives in 1990? Without researching it I can’t remember but their capacities were certainly in the Megabytes, and the low megabytes at that… 10Mb maybe? A couple of years later I remember that Windows 3 had just come out and after it had been installed there wasn’t any room on people hard drives to load anything else like WordPerfect, which was the de-facto wordprocessor of the time.

One thing for certain is that hard drives in 1990 didn’t really look like they do today – the only similarity is the metal box shape. Most hard drives had either SCSI and PATA interfaces too. The modern SATA interface that we see today didn’t come along until much later  – about 2009.