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What is the best available data recovery program for a reformatted HDD

By sleepin'dawg ·
Back in February I bought an HP Pavillion Notebook PC DV9718CA preloaded with Vista for my daughter, who lives in Spain. Apparently the computer ran well, without problems but after a month in her possesion she noticed something rather odd. There was a small piece of wire protruding from under the bezel, between function keys F6 and F7. Since this was a new notebook, still under warranty, she brought it with her when she returned to Canada on a visit. This computer was a gift from me to see her through her convalesence from cancer and consequently was loaded not only with a lot of personal data but also her complete medical history which an oncologist friend was to look over and give advice on the treatment she is receiving.

I saw the problem and the piece of wire looked to be either a small bit of shielded cable or a small ribbon cable. It wasn't anything major and certainly didn't seriously interfere with operation, except if your fingers were in the area you might have snagged it by accident. I could have fixed it myself except, my opening the unit would have voided the warranty.

I contacted HP technical service and they surprised me by instantly agreeing to a warranty repair and shipped a proper prepaid no-charge UPS waybill complete with all the necessary packing materials, overnight. They suggest I return the unit without any accesories, including the HDD. Descriptions and digrams of the HDD installation did not at all resemble the unit in my hands so I was advised to return the unit c/w HDD but make note that the HDD was not to be reimaged and/or reformatted. HP received the unit on July 11, 2008 c/w four notices, three notices in 36 pt type taped to the unit, explaining the problem and to definitely not reformat the hard drive. You can see where this is going, can't you???

On July 15, 2008 the unit was returned to me and the first piece of paper out of the box claims, "The HP service center has performed thorough diagnostic testing and detected the following: Failure could be duplicated (was checked off). How or why this could be duplicated truly boggles the mind.

Under Repair Information: Keyboard and Hard Drive (Re-imaged} were checked off

Just what depths of stupidity and incompetence must be plumbed for a supposedly skilled, trained technician to ignore written instuctions from a client. Aside from the loose copy include in the box, I had taped copies to the top cover, the bottom cover and across the keyboard, kind of hard to miss, wouldn't you say.

You can bet I was instantly on the phone complaining to HP but according to them HP, in their warranty declines any responsibility for lost data, regardless of the fact that data loss was totally Their fault and totally unnecessary. To quote HP, "We suggest you back up your data before returning the unit." Very nice and I agreed except for one tiny little detail, the damn back-ups are in Spain and we are here in Canada. Do you think HP will foot the bill for a quick trip to Spain to retrieve the back-ups??? Right!!!!

The loss of the personal data was annoying and depressing, especially for someone having recently received a mastectomy and is now in the throes of chemotherapy. She was supposed to meet my oncologist friend this coming Monday to get advice on her treatment. This is a girl with Grade2b, Stage IV recurrence of breast cancer. Her very life is at stake and all HP will say to me is, "Sorry about that"

Well I intend to make HP extremely sorry for their cavalier treatment of my daughter. Effective today, I have removed HP from our list of approved and/or recommended suppliers. For openers I have told our buyers to never again purchase any HP or Compaq products, effective immediately. We were interested in purchasing 130 office 4 colour laser printers. HP and it's subsidiary Compaq are will no longer be in consideration for any of our business.

However, I still need to see if I can retrieve the files from the hard drive, hopefully they haven't been overwritten to any large extent. Of course, the medical data is most important but I would like to get back as much as possible. It's been ten years since I last had to do anything like this, so I'm more than a little out of touch with the current availability of this type of software. Any and all advice will be gratefully received.

Dawg

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All Answers

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I wouldn't muck around

by Jacky Howe In reply to What is the best availabl ...

with the freebies as you could end up doing more damage, but the alternate choice that I offer isn't cheap. Ontrack have an excellent reputation.

http://www.ontrackdatarecovery.com/

< on the other hand >

If you want to try it yourself I have had success with this software but the Drive had'nt been reimaged.


http://www.pcinspector.de/Sites/file_recovery/info.htm?language=1

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Dawg, peer-mail Colin

by neilb@uk In reply to What is the best availabl ...

HAL or Oh Smeg is is your man for this sort of thing. I also reckon that he would immediately echo True Blue's recommendation to give it to the professional data restorers.

Good luck and best wishes to you daughter.

Neil

One of his personalities will probably spot the thread anyway but time is of the essence, here.

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Neil GG is in a better position for this because she knows the law there

by OH Smeg In reply to Dawg, peer-mail Colin

She's also made mention of a product that is only used here by the Authorities for Criminal Prosecutions when it comes to Forensic Recovery.

I wouldn't have thought of that one because it's not available here and while I do have access to it I wouldn't expect others not involved to. I would be looking at getting the Medical Records Transfered if that's possible or if there is a Backup in Spain just Air Freight the Backup over in the most Secure Way Possible to try to make sure it doesn't go astray in transit But I would have another Backup made just in case before sending it over.

The trouble here isn't the Technical Issues involved but the actual Logistics of moving something half way around the world and not letting it get lost along the way. It's not even so much Security but the fact that you can not afford to loose it which is the killer here. And the fact that you don't have anyone in Spain to do what is required is of absolutely no help either. If there was a backup there with someone technically savvy enough it's not much of an issue to electronically transfer the Data across directly.

With DR Services here it would be cheaper to actually fly to Spain pickup the Data Back it up and then transmit it across before carrying it on you when you return. The entire thing would only require a few hours on the ground in Spain to achieve.

Anyway Dawg drop me a PM if I can be of any assistance.

Col

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Thanks Neil, I'll PM him tonight.

by sleepin'dawg In reply to Dawg, peer-mail Colin

If it weren't for her medical records I'd tell her to redownload all the music and movies she had on the thing I've got another option; one of my guys is in Milan and he's going to fly over to Malaga and get a key from her neighbour and hopefully find the papers and bring them back with him this weekend. One way or the other, I'm going to get those records. He's due back here Saturday afternoon and while he's at her place he can phone here for search instructions, if necessary. Needless to say I'm still PO'd with HP. The problem was strictly an assembly problem and if it hadn't been under warranty I'd have fixed it myself. The instructions I'd sent with the box were clear and concise ie: tuck the wire back inside and do not reformat the the hard drive. There was nothing wrong with the way the thing worked. Boggles the mind, it do.

Dawg ]:)

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Not really Dawg

by OH Smeg In reply to Thanks Neil, I'll PM him ...

When you consider who HP has working for them **** things like this.

I'll bet that one person accepted the package when it arrived another opened it a third unpacked it a fourth removed all the directions a fifth placed the Fault Report Card on it then it went through HP Standard procedure Wipe the HDD and then re image then test to see what type of problem the Software is giving. Then when they are unable to find a Software Issue they start to look for other issues maybe.

Col

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What you want is.....

by gadgetgirl In reply to What is the best availabl ...

a professional company, who use a particular program called En Case Forensics.

This is the absolute best program for information retrieval. It may be a bit pricey, but as time is of the essence, it will be worth it.

Look up Information Data Restoration in your area: it may take a while, but someone there WILL have En Case Forensics - they don't need to have the "suite" version, the stand alone will do what you need it to.

Under no circumstances try another program first; if HP have used a proprietary data destruction program, your trying to use another program to undo the overwrites will/can/may totally destroy the information you are trying to retrieve.

There are a number of options En Case can use to get this data back - they normally duplicate, through their own program, the original hard drive before they start working. As this is information which is needed urgently, they can do as many duplicates as they need to begin diagnostics to discover which program has been previously used. (They all leave footprints, as I'm sure you're aware)

The only thing I would make sure of with this is that the company you use has an En Case trained technician: you *can* get by with this program on instinct alone, but there are no guarantees that you can get EVERYTHING without having done the intensive 5 day training course that comes with the programs purchase.

Incidentally, this is the only data recovery program used in the UK court system as being certified to be used in evidence.

If you can't get this done/ can't find someone with En Case, there is another alternative, but it's tricky. Try getting the information sent electronically - but bear in mind that Spain works under the same rulings as the UK as far as the Data Protection Act 1998 is concerned: data sent outside of the EU can only be sent to a "Safe Harbour" signatory.

I've no idea how this works (as I'm IN the EU) but there should be a website or list somewhere of companies who have signed up to the Safe Harbour scheme - one of your own companies may have already done this.

It is then legal to send a passworded - but not encrypted - file between the sender and the Safe Harbour recipient. Under the circumstances, I think anyone on that list would try to help you.

** The DPO who sits opposite is looking up Safe Harbour listings - I'll edit if she gets anything

Edit: She found the US list: http://web.ita.doc.gov/safeharbor/shlist.nsf/webPages/safe+harbor+list

we're still working on it .......

Why didn't you just email me? You know this is part of my job.



GG

Edit 2 - check your mail - just pulled in a favour from a mate, and have sent a link to a company for you.

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Thats surprising

by IC-IT In reply to What you want is.....

FTK is as good (some will argue better) as En Case.
Should alternative options not pan out try their trial. I used 1.72 a few times, the only limit on the trial is retrival of up to 5000 files.
It also will make a complete bit by bit image of the drive to preserve data integrity.
http://www.accessdata.com/Products/ftk2test.aspx

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