Are you falling for the top five data recovery myths?

data-recovery-mythsAs soon as people began storing data on hard drives, hard drives began failing and data began to be lost. Here are some of the more common data recovery myths that I get asked about and educated customers on. I thought it time to quash these. So here are the most popular data recovery myths that we hear from customers in the Capital Region.

1. The least expensive data recovery quote should be the quote you choose. Whether dealing with a business or personal data loss, the outcome of the recovery will often not be the same. While every client is looking for a cost-effective solution that will recovery all their data not all outcomes are the same. Customers are often swayed by the appeal of free evaluations, capped prices or the cheapest recovery quote. Often users find out the company they are dealing with has little or no experience in data recovery, the quote contains hidden fees or they recover back only part of the data. To often customers waste valuable time and money with companies who are not data recovery experts.

Eric’s Computer Services offers expert data recovery services. I offer a full diagnostic, certified and partnered with the best companies in the world.

2. If a data loss occurs I have someone to handle it (my IT department, friend, or local computer guy). Few people or companies have the tools, software and knowledge to perform a data recovery. When a data loss occurs, everyone looks to the IT department friend, or local computer guy. When it is established they cannot do the recovery looking to a third party may be the next logical step, but not all data recovery providers offer an assessment of what can be recovered or access to the actual engineers working on your case. Make sure the data recovery provider is willing and able to work with you step-by-step, keeping you apprised of the process and what can actually be recovered.

When you choose me I will be the actual engineer working on your case, if we work with one of my data recovery partners that has specific expertise I will be in contact directly with that engineer.

3. I have a backup system or cloud storage in place so I do not need to worry about data loss. Unfortunately, having a backup system in place is not a fool-proof guarantee that your data will never be lost, or need a recovery. Moreover, many backups are not real-time and some of your critical data may not have been included in the backup before the data loss occurred.

Data loss is a common occurrence even with backups. Often I run across clients needing recovery even when they have a backup for the following reasons:

    • Data was deleted accidentally, and the backups do not contain the deleted data
    • Viruses, malware, ransomware deleted files and or backups
    • Client has cloud storage but after a computer failure it was discovered all files were not backed up
    • The client though they had backups but the backups did not exist or were bad (corrupt backups, backups were not running, backups were old, etc.)

4. Data recovery is not possible for some technologies, or is expensive. Not all recoveries are expensive and all most all technologies can be recovered.  While recovering from mechanical hard drive failures is typically the most common. I offer recoveries from SSDs, Flash Drives, memory cards, CDs, DVDs, floppy disks, databases, virtual machines, and even encrypted drives. Very, very few pieces of media are not recoverable. Data loss is never a lost cause until a  professional data recovery attempts it and even then only if you get a second opinion.

Because you may only have one chance to recover your data, it is essential to choose a provider that handles every job with the same level of concern, dedication and attention to cost-effectiveness, regardless of size, and can assist in prioritizing the recovery strategy according to the most critical needs and locate specific data on the used areas of the drive.

5. If the first attempt fails, I can try again. If your hard drive crashes or fails, your first instinct may be to try every data recovery procedure you can Google, try free software or send it to the first company you can find. The first data recovery attempt provides the best chance of successfully extracting your files especially in cases where the drive is approaching unreadable/unmountable with degrading health.  While often a second or third attempt can be made I have seen some drives and data ruined, some unrecoverable and some were recoverable at a higher cost.

In cases of recovery a customer should weigh their options but typically all hardware recoveries, physical recoveries, drives that are making any kind of abnormal noises like grinding, business related files or important data that was not backed-up and is irreplaceable should be handled by a professional the first time.

Bonus Myth

The Freezer trick has never worked, and it never will. It was more talked about around 10-15 years ago. According to the urban legends, if the heads of a drive are stuck on the platters, freezing the drive will somehow shrink the platters and get the heads unstuck. I am unsure how a kitchen freezer is suppose to shrink metal and glass (hint it not possible).

Placing a hard drive in a freezer and then powering it up can short out the electronics or cause irreparable platter damage due to moisture condensing on the platters. Hard drives are designed to operate within certain environmental conditions. All manufactures list the operating template at about 5 to 50 degrees Celsius (41 to 122 Fahrenheit). Freezing a drive places, the drive in extreme temperatures outside of its design specifications and can lead to rotational scoring, which will cause data loss.

clicking-hard-drive-parts-diagramClicking hard drive noise what causes it?

If a dropped hard drive is clicking and it isn’t working anymore, it is likely that the platters, arm or hard drive head were damaged and misaligned from the impact. Also clicking issues can stem from a drive with physical issues from age or normal wear and tear. If the head is trying to locate data on the platters and cannot find it, the arm will move back and forth across the platters several times.

Why should you stop using a drive that is clicking?

If the drive head is making contact with the platter (where the data is stored). Scoring can occur which is damage to the platter, causing data loss. The platter spins at high rotational speeds. My previous post covered how the height of the head from the patter is less than a human hair, fingerprint or particle of dust, so an ever so slight misaligned will cause issues or damage.

The head is attached to an actuator arm that hits a stop every time it goes back and forth, which makes the clicking noise also known as the dreaded click of death. At this point professional recovery services are needed to recover the data.

This video shows a drive from a stopped start, to spinning up. This is what clicking hard drive looks like and when it is not functioning properly. The constant back and forth of the arm is the drives inability to read data.



Comparison of the fly height of hard drive read/write heads compared to the heights of a fingerprint, dust particle, and human hair. Source: Seagate white paper.

When a failed hard drive is making a clicking, or isn’t spinning there is temptation by many customers to open the drive itself.

A hard drive that is need of data recovery should never be open. The cover of your hard drive sound never be removed. Even the tiniest specks of dust can mean the end of your data and drive forever.

Perhaps the thinking behind the desire to open it is that there is something physical stopping the heads moving, and if you could just get in there and start the arm and all would be well again. In fact the clicking sound that you may be hearing is not an obstruction but the perfectly normal sound of the arm on which the heads are mounted hitting a mechanical stop. It is clicking repeatedly because it is failing to initialize and simply retrying every second or so to read from the data platters.

The main reason for not opening the drive is simply that there is nothing that you will be able to do once you have taken the lid off. Physically data recoveries require special parts sets and data recovery tools and knowledge.

Just to be absolutely clear here this refers to opening the drive, not removing the drive form an enclosure. If you open the drive and remove the lid of the hard drive itself you expose the mirrored data platters. This always require the use of specialist screwdrivers – which in itself should be a hint not to proceed.

A hard drive is extremely sensitive. Once a drive is opened outside a clean room environment you have exposed the drive to the risk that contamination. Dust particles, human hairs and or finger prints all can cause major issues. When the drive is subsequently particles become lodged between the read /write heads and the platters surface. The fly heigh is less than that of a finger print, piece or dust or human hair. During normal hard drive operation these heads should never make physical contact with the platter surface, they float on a minutely thin layer of air just above the surface. These platters are typically spinning at 5,400 or 7,200 rotations per minute (5400 or 7200 RPM), and as high as 10,000 or 15,000 rotations per minute (10000 or 15000 RPM). You can imagine the devastation to the platter surface where your data is stored should a piece of hair or dust particle become stuck between the head and the surface. Your data will literally grind off the platter in a fraction of a second. from friction.

For all of these reasons most data recovery services are reluctant to accept hard drives which have been opened at home by the end user of the drive and many will charge additional fees. Opening a drive usually lowers the chance of data recovery success and increases costs due to the need for decontamination. In some cases it can make the data partially or fully unrecoverable if platter damage occurs.

30 Oct / 2016

Hacktoberfest 2016

hacktoberfest-2016Hacktoberfest 2016

Eric’s Computer Services participated in Digital Oceans 3rd annual Hacktoberfest.  It’s that time of year again! Hacktoberfest 2016 is almost over corner. Digital Ocean is back with new, featured projects and the chance to win the another limited-edition Hacktoberfest T-shirt you all love. Hacktoberfest is open to everyone in the GitHub community!

To get a shirt, you must make four pull requests between October 1st-31st. Pull requests can be to any public repo on GitHub, not just the ones we’ve highlighted. Note, any pull requests reported by maintainers as spam or that are automated will be marked as invalid and won’t count towards the shirt.


What is Backup and Disaster RecoveryWhat is Backup and Disaster Recovery (BDR)?

Disaster recovery (DR) of backups involves policies, procedures and deployment to recover data or the continuation technology infrastructure, systems and data following a data loss caused by a disaster. Disaster recovery focuses on the technology systems supporting critical business functions. Disaster recovery is therefore a subset of business continuity.

Disaster Recovery is growingHaving a backup of your critical files is not enough enough! Most conventional backup solutions such as NAS, external hard drives, backup to servers or cloud backups are better than nothing but can leave you wondering what to do with your business while waiting on the data to be restored!

It is a growing business. The Disaster Recovery as a Service (DRaas) is estimated to grow from $1.42 Billion Dollars (2015) to $11.92 Billion in 2020.

Failures of Backup and Disaster Recovery
52% of business experience multiple backups failures resulting in data loss every year.
No business is immune to data loss.
The events that knock small and medium size business out of commission are :
  • 55% of data loss is due to hardware error
  • 22% of data loss is due to human error
  • 18% of data loss is due to software failure
  • 5% of data loss is due to natural disaster

Often business cannot recover from a data loss 60% of business that lose data shut down within six months a data loss disaster.

Reasons for a disasters vary but can be related to natural disasters, cyber attacks, malware, viruses, data corruption, software error, hardware failure, human error, or intentional data destruction.

Types of Disaster RecoveryHow long can you afford to be without your line of business application or critical data? If you are using conventional or cloud backups I have seen customers waiting for days to access their data to get your their business running again!

The horrible truth about backup: in today’s world of ever growing data storage I see conventional backups either failing to retain critical data, failure to have backups that work, failure to have a way to restore data, or taking too long to restore data. Now is the best time to evaluate your backup and disaster recovery plan. Without the proper backup and disaster recovery plan in place you could be waiting for days or even weeks to replace your sever and the critical data for your business.

How Big is a Zettabyte?

On Monday Gartner, Inc. released a report predicting consumers would be hoarding a global total of 4.1 zettabytes worth content by 2016.

But most of us don’t really have a handle on how big a zettabyte really is.

A singe zettabyte, yes only 1  zettabyte is 909494701.773 terabytes (TB).

Remember the good old days

A terabyte was considered a lot of space. In 2008 I though a single terabyte drive was all I would ever need again. Improvements in hard disk technology have allowed the humble magnetic drive to reach the dizzying heights of 3TB terabytes of storage, but Cisco foresees a future that’s a few orders of magnitude more impressive. Pinpointing 2016 as the commencement of what it calls the zettabyte era, the company has put together a handy infographic to show us just how much data can be fit into one: you can alternatively think of it as the equivalent of 250 billion DVDs, 36 million years of HD video.


30 Mar / 2016

World Backup Day!

World Backup DayWorld Backup Day!

World Backup Day is March 31st! Have a backup is the most important thing you can do on your computer, phone or tablet. A backup is a second copy of all your important files — for example, your family photos, camera videos, business documents and emails.

As opposed to having all your data only on one device, you keep another copy of everything somewhere safe.


Losing data is way more common than you’d think. One small accident or failure could destroy all the important stuff you care about and lead to a data recovery situation or data lost.

30% of people have never been backed up (source)

29% of disasters are caused by accident (source)

113 phones lost or stolen every minute (source: via Safeware1)

1 in 10 computers infected with viruses each month (source: via ICSA Labs/TruSecure)

With so much of our lives, photos, and videos being stored in digital form, it is important that we begin to make backups of our precious data.  Backing up your data is one of those easy-to-do procedures that many people ignore.

Already have a backup procedure in place? If you don’t, consider making a plan to protect your data. One should also check (and then recheck) your backup restores on World Backup Day to see if they actually work. After all, a backup plan that doesn’t work isn’t much of a backup plan.

After all World Backup Day is right before April Fools Day.  Backup your data.

Recovery-from-Lost-FloppiesRecovery From Lost Floppies

Data recovery from lost floppies is hard work. When the data is on a non-standard operating system format it is even more challenging. One of Eric’s Computer Services data recovery partners, DriveSavers was able to help the family of Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry. His 5.25-inch floppies,  yes 5.25-inch floppies not even 3.5inch contained his work after his passing left a few boxes containing this unknown works .

So how were these magical magnets recovered?

You can just plugin them in right? No sadly. Even if you have a 5.25-inch drive which most people do not any more the problem is with the operating system and format. You cannot read the the read the files on a modern Windows, Mac or Linux computer or operating system. I was faced with this same issue last month on data recovery from lost floppies off an old Brother Word Process that used a non-Windows file system and proprietary file extension.

Gene Roddenberry’s estate had sold one computer that wrote the works and the other was nonfunctional. If one was working they might have been able to view the files but not convert them, but in this case that was not going to happen either.
That is where Eric’s Computer Services data recovery partner, DriveSavers stepped in. For such a large complex job the Roddenberry family work with the director of engineering of DriveSavers.

Most of the disks were early to mid 1980s-era 5.25-inch double Density DS/DD disks with a capacity of 160KB. Small amount of data right? Well the issue with most recoveries form older media isn’t size it is format, file extension and media damage especially on floppy disks. These disk used an older operating system called CP/M. Control Program for Microcomputers, was an operating system from 30-40 years ago. It ceased being used when Microsoft’s DOS became prominent.

The track format of the disks posed problems that took three months alone to reverse engineer, and many had physical damage. When the project was complete about 95% of the data was recovered and a modern engineering marvel was complete by DriveSavers.

So what do the disks contain? When professional data recovery companies are contracted the data on a drive is confidential so we may never know.

Small Business Data BackupsSmall Business Data Backups

Small business are consistency trying to balance being efficient with cost. Once place not to skimp on savings is small business data backups. Any business owner or anyone who has ever used a computer should know it is essential to backup your data.

Data losses happen everyday. Whether it is an unexpected mechanical drive failure, a fall of an external drive off or a desk, and a piece of malicious software having an up-to-date copy your data could be enough to save your company from a disaster. Do a quick metal check of everything your your business computers like email, customer information, tax records, QuickBooks, forms, receipts – wow a lot on there right?

Many customers I provide data recovery services for are not backing up their data at all or not frequently enough to prevent problems, sometimes backup solutions in place do fail or are never checked and produce little to nothing.

I will try to cover how to some misconceptions that small business data backups are costly or unnecessary and give you options on how I can provide regularly back up data in a secure, efficient and cost-effective way.

What is a backup, or what kinds of backups are there?

A backup is a copy of your data. There are images or clones of drives which typically all data on a computer including the operating systems, programs and all files. There are partial backups which you may only grab certain items or files. Finally there are incremental backups which typically update changes to a full backup. Backups are meant to be restored if data loss occurs. A single copy of data regards of the media is not a backup.

How many backups should I have and where?

Ideally 2 or 3 minimum separate solutions for small business data backups.  It’s OK to keep a copy of your backups onsite. Ideally you should have backups on at a separate locations such as two physical sites, or one site and two cloud storage providers. With onsite physical backups there are disasters like flooding, fire that can loose all data forever.

Where should I start?

A simple way to do this on your own is to backup to an external hard drive.  External hard drives are inexpensive reasonably fast, and you can drag and drop and files with Windows, Mac or Linux. There is free and paid software exists for backing up computers. Windows includes Windows Backup, and Apple includes Time Machine on OSX. the down side to external hard drives is they are not redundant. A single drive is typically in the enclosure and can fail. External hard drives often get bumped or dropped and have physical damage leading to a mechanically bad drive that needs recovery. Also you have to plug them in via USB. For desktop users this is not a problem but many newer portable versions do not have power switches leading to running them consistently. For laptops I frequently find users or business forget to complete backups because the drives are unplugged or set the drive in a desk drawer. A drive that is not being backed up isn’t worth much when a data loss occurs but for a cheap easy way to backup external hard drives are not bullet proof but good. An external hard drive is a one time purchase and you might need to buy software to fit your needs.

What if an external drive is not enough?

I suggest network attached storage (NAS), cloud storage or typically both. A NAS sits on a network so computers wired or wireless can connect to it. In additional to backing up you can use it for file sharing. NAS’s often include two or more hard drives in a RAID configuration, so even if one drive fails you do not loose your data. Since a NAS sits on your network there is not plugging in a drive or manually copying files. It is far more convenient for laptop users as they can keep mobility on the network and have access to data or being backing data up with working. Backup software can be schedules so you do not miss backups. A NAS is usually a once time purchase plus the cost of software and setup time. A NAS is far more convenient, robust and efficient that a traditional external hard drives offers redundancy and is more efficient but they do cost more.

Cloud services are becoming more and more used for backups. In addition to backups cloud services can also be used to sync data over the internet. A cloud service built for business is usually the better choice. Plans, options, and storage space vary by provider as well as does speed and terms. Cloud services are great for off site backups and syncing data. A cloud services is a monthly/yearly cost plus you might need additional or setup help.

A cloud service plus a NAS is typically what I recommend for small business data backups.

Why is a backup solution so important?

Data recovery is expensive, takes time and there is never any guarantee you are going to cover all your data. Data losses and downtime can be detrimental to small businesses. It’s better to secure and backup your data now then have a disaster in the future. Small business data backups are crucial to ensure all your data is backed up and secure. Small business have more cost-effective solutions and I can help implement them.

Intel unveils upgraded 6th Gen Intel Core processors

6th Gen Intel Core processors upgrade your computer

Is it time to upgrade? It is if you’re going to get an upgrade to the new 6th Gen Intel® Core™ i5 and i7 processors.

The 6th Generation Intel® Core™ processors set a new standard for speed, performance and up to triple the battery life compared to current computers. The new i5 and i7 processors are optimized to run Windows more efficiently and securely.
The all new Skylake support DDR4 or DDR3L with the architecture supporting up to 64GB of ram. The new default speed is a blazing fast 2133MHz with potential for higher speeds with overclocking.

Sounds fantastic right? It is but new motherboards will need to be purchased as well because the CPUs require the new 1151 socket.

Intel’s take is right on and it is time for many home consumers and business to upgrade. There are “over 500 million computers in use today that are four to five years old or older. They are slow to wake, their batteries don’t last long, and they can’t take advantage of all the new experiences available today. Built on the new Skylake microarchitecture on Intel’s leading 14nm manufacturing process technology, 6th Gen Intel Core processors deliver up to two and a half times better performance, triple the battery life, and graphics that are 30 times better for seamless and smooth gaming and video experiences versus the average 5-year-old computer. They can also be half as thin and half the weight, have faster wake up time, and battery life that lasts virtually all day”.

The 6th Gen Intel Core processors offer a variety of additional features and more computers will have support for Thunderbolt™ 3 for USB Type-C for faster transfers on new phones and tablets.


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