HTC Phone Recovery with Water Damage

Recovery of a water damaged HTC mobile phone

Recently an HTC phone was sent into us, the customer needed some holiday photos from the phone, the issue was that the phone was in a pretty poor and unstable condition so we thought that we weren't able to get the phone working.

When it got to us it was diagnosed as having "water damage", and it was pretty clear that was the case. It looked like some of the components had fried but we were not completely sure.

Either way, the main task we had to do was take out the logic board (which meant disassembling the phone) and put it in an ultrasonic bath so that the board was clean. Once the logic board was clean the phone was re-assembled and we hooked it up to one of our recovery machines.

Amazingly the phone powered up successfully (although the screen didn't show up, that was OK because we didn't need the screen). We had some phone data recovery software that managed to source the data and extract it to our secure password protected server.

Luckily the recovery process was successful but if the phone had arrived with any more damage, then there would be no way for us or anyone to recover the data from the phone.

If it was just the screen that was damaged then it would have been a lot easier and quicker for us to recover the data, but since it also had water damage the process was a lot more time-consuming.

Water damage failures require immediate action. You need fast, secure results, and R3 offers the solutions you need to effectively maintain your data and system after any type of failure. Call us today at 0800 999 3282 to get started with your unique case.

Emergency Macbook Liquid Damage Recovery

Not too long ago we had a MacBook that was sent to us which was down as an emergency service, it was diagnosed as being an electronic failure due to the fact that it had liquid damage, possibly due to a drink being spilled on the device.

We noticed that upon further inspection, the logic board looked in a pretty poor state and it was no surprise to us when we found out that the logic board had failed.

But since we were asked to recover the data, we had to inspect the drive inside the Macbook. It was an SSD inside and luckily there was no damage to it, which meant it was entirely possible for us to recover the data quickly and effectively.

SSD drive of a water damaged MacBook

Once the engineers were about to clone the SSD, they realised that an encryption key is needed or else we wouldn't be able to progress too much with the job. Once we obtained the key, we could start the decryption process (it took a fairly long time to decrypt due to file system being slightly damaged).

When the drive was decrypted we could then start the data transfer process. The data was copied to a 1TB encrypted external drive so that we could generate a file listing for the customer to view. The percentage integrity of the data was almost 100% although there were a few corrupt files (videos) which we warned the customer about.

The customer then approved the recovery and said that it was OK that a few of the videos were corrupt as it wasn't part of the priority data that the customer requested.

The Macbook (with SSD inside) and 1TB encrypted external drive was sent back to the satisfied customer by a courier.

If you suffer corruption of your data; on SSD drives, RAID servers, portable hard drives, laptops or even USB memory sticks, we can help you to safely recover your lost files. Experienced and qualified staff with over 30 years of experience. Call us today at 0800 999 3282 to get started with your unique case.

A Real Hard Drive Recovery Case Study

  • Drive Received - 13/09/2016 - 10:57AM
    Drive was received and booked into our database noting serial numbers and anything unique to the drive. The customer also informed of arrival.

  • Diagnostics - 13/09/2016 - 11:22AM
    Drive was diagnosed by one of our engineers. The engineer diagnosed it as stiction and put it in our clean room for an internal inspection.

  • Clean Room Inspection - 13/09/2016 - 12:04PM
    The clean room inspection confirmed the engineer’s thoughts and the drive did, in fact, have stiction. Stiction is when the drives read/write get stuck on the platters, normally due to an impact happening with the drive like it being dropped while spinning for example.

  • Parts Needed - 13/09/2016 - 12:25PM
    Jobs was then set to parts needed, a lab assistant was then given the task of finding a matching donor for the drive so that the engineers could do a head swap.

  • Parts Sent to Client - 13/09/2016 - 12:45PM
    Matching parts was found, tested and passed to the engineers to begin the re-build.

  • Cloning - 13/09/2016 - 1:30PM
    Head swap complete and successful, engineers now doing a sector by sector clone of the drive.

  • Cloning Complete/Data Transfer - 14/09/2016 - 03:43PM
    Cloning of the drive complete, image drive now passed to a lab assistant to begin the data transfer stage of the recovery i.e. copying the customer's data to an RM (Return Media)

  • File List Sent - 15/09/2016 - 02:33PM
    File listing an integrity check sent to the customer, all customers of R3 get a free file listing and integrity check. What this is a representation of the data we have recovered from your failed/failing device.

  • Invoiced - 15/09/2016 - 4:03PM
    The customer was then invoiced for the work carried out for him.

  • Paid - 16/09/2016 - 5:00PM
    Our accounts team then confirmed customer had paid the invoice and the drive was returned to them on the same day.

Here is what the customer email us just hours after receiving his data back:

Hi Will,

Just wanted to say a big thank you to you and R3 for the recovery - from what I can tell nearly all files are intact and usable, so a great result.

Thanks for your help, much appreciated!

This is just one of many jobs that we complete on a day to day basis even faster than the time frame indicates. We aim to get all jobs done as quickly as possible no matter the service level (Budget, Standard or Emergency). If you need our help give us a call on 0800 999 3282 or alternatively email us at [email protected]

How Precious Is Your Data And How Precious Is It To Others?

This is a very good question, it can seem obvious, but it is not always the case.

A few days ago we received a portable Samsung drive that had already been to another data recovery company.

They had managed to recover a few GB of data only, out of an amount roughly the size of 1 TB.

The customer was in a state of desperation, mainly because the drive stored the final experiments and results of her important research work, which she had been collating for numerous years.

After some days of very intensive work, we were very glad that we were finally able to put a great smile on her face again as a result of recovering her important data.

We are not writing this article to emphasize our tech skills (well, not only for that) but to make a reflection on how data recovery companies satisfy their mission of doing what is required of them by the customer and simultaneously allowing their customers life’s to continue in a positive way and not in a state of desperation or panic as a consequence of their lost data.

Quite often we see that some of our competitors could have had the necessary skills to do the job too but they simply gave up, ultimately from their perspective it required too much effort, spare parts and, above all, time for the quoted price.

Which raises the question, how can you help people in such situations, unless by charging them with incredible prices?

If you care about your customers, you will consider them as people, not numbers. We talked to the customer, spent time with her, understanding how the data was arranged and what was the purpose of each file type; we managed to build a list of most important and vital files for her, choosing between the different copies and types. As result, we were able to cut off a huge amount of unnecessary sectors and focus our efforts on cloning the important data chains only.

So to conclude, tech skills are not only the essential tool in data recovery, by establishing a good interaction with the customer we managed to do the job and give some serenity to another happy R3 Customer.

R3 Data Recovery is real lab that deals with real disasters each an every day. If you have any sort of problem with a hard drive or any data storage device, we are the people to contact. Call us today on 0800 999 3282 for immediate help and assistance.

Timestamp Data Recovery Case Study

Data Extraction Secure House Data Recovery Lab
  • Saturday 29th July 8:28PM - Client Made Contact
    The client (fashion photographer) made contact with our director and owner Andy Butler over the phone in hysterics, Andy managed to calm the client down and got an explanation of what had happened and gave a possible prognosis. He quoted a price for recovery on an emergency service (normally 12 to 48 hours after arrival at our lab).

  • Sunday 30th July 10:13AM - Client Accepted
    Client booked an emergency flight home scheduled for the next morning.

  • Monday 31st July 5AM-7:20AM - Client flew to London from Portugal
  • Monday 31st July 7:45AM-10:30AM - Client boarded train to Sheffield
    Client boarded train straight to Sheffield, once at Sheffield train station, they were taken straight to the R3 Data Recovery Lab by Taxi.

  • Monday 31st July 11:18AM - Received
    Client delivered drive in person to the lab, was scanned and booked into the labs database and passed straight through to the engineers.

  • Monday 31st July 11:30AM - Diagnosis
    Engineers performed a swift diagnostic of the drive and identified that the drive needed a mechanical rebuild.

  • Monday 31st July 11:40AM - Client advised
    The client was told of the diagnosis and how long the rebuild should take and the cloning process to follow.

  • Monday 31st July 11:42AM-12:10PM - Donor Sourcing
    Checked to see if we had the correct model in stock to use as a rebuild for the patient drive. Luckily we had so we didn't need to source an external donor. Once located and tested for compatibility, the donor and patient drive was passed for a rebuild in the lab's clean room.

  • Monday 31st July 12:15PM-12:28PM - Drive Rebuild
    The engineer swapped the platter and heads of the original drive with the working parts from the donor drive.

  • Monday 31st July 12:35PM-3:00PM- Cloning Process (Started/Finished)
    The rebuilt drive was immediately cloned to an image drive of equal or greater capacity, due to the amount of data on the original drive this took a few hours, but was completed successfully and file list was the generated from the image that the client was asked to verify. Once legitimised by the client the data transfer was started.

  • Monday 31st July 3:10PM-5:20PM - Data Transfer Process (Started/Finished)
    The data transfer from the image drive to the soon to be customers new RM drive which contained all the critical and essential data they required was complete. The customer left with the RM and returned to her work successfully.

If you suffer corruption of your data; on RAID servers, hard drives, laptops or even USB memory sticks, we can help you to safely recover your lost files. Experienced and qualified staff with over 30 years of experience. Call us today at 0800 999 3282 to get started with your unique case.

iMac Data Recovery (Case Study)

A few weeks ago, a customer sent in his iMac for recovery. The issue with it was that it wouldn't boot and that it kept showing a back screen which said "missing operating system". This suggested to us that the drive inside the iMac had accumulated bad sectors and would get worse if the customer continued to use the device.

When we took the screen off to obtain the 500GB drive it seemed fine, the engineers had patched the firmware on the drive reducing any risk of any added bad sectors when cloning.

iMac Recovery

Once cloning had started, I had left it on overnight in hopes that the drive would have finished cloning so that we can extract the data. To my surprise, I checked the drive the morning after and one of the heads was not correcting any bad sectors, meaning that one of the heads was weak or failing. So it seemed that Head 0 was on its last legs before failing completely.

Either way, we had to source for a donor and perform a headswap so that we could get a close to perfect recovery. Fortunately after the headswap had been performed, we managed to obtain the data and get it extracted with no hassle, and the customer was happy with what we had recovered.

The customer wanted a bootable clone but due to the extent of the damage that was not possible.

To conclude, the data was extracted to a new External drive. As for the iMac, we kept the original and informed the customer that he had to source for a new hard drive to put inside the iMac and have a new operating system installed.

Once again, a successful recovery from R3.

R3 Data Recovery is real lab that deals with real disasters each an every day. If you have any sort of problem with a hard drive or any data storage device, we are the people to contact. Call us today on 0800 999 3282 for immediate help and assistance.

Emergency Stick Delivered With Rice

Today at R3 we greeted a client into the lab that was In need of a speedy and efficient recovery. The failed device was a USB stick. And the data stored on the stick was integral to the client's occupation, as they have recently started a new job that required lots of pre-planning. Coincidentally all of the aforementioned planning was housed on the device in question.

The reason for the failure was unfortunate. Liquid damage had occurred as a result of accidental water spillage and components housed on the device's PCB had blown. In an Endearing attempt to try and fix the issue of the spilled liquid the client had left the USB stick in a container filled with rice. This method, with vastly varying success has been known to work with liquid damaged smart phones, however the damage had already been done and needed the attention of a data recovery specialist.

Water damaged USB stick

Luckily here at R3 Data Recovery Ltd we have such individuals on hand, and in a swift and assuring manner the memory stick was diagnosed and recovery was attempted, resulting in some very intricate soldering.​

However this ultimately proved fruitless in recovering the lost data, and a separate method had to be taken in the form of a NAND read.​

While more costly in price and engineer time, the NAND read proved successful and all parties concerned left satisfied and happy. And perhaps most importantly within the predicted time that our emergency service provides here at R3, which is always within 72 hours.

If you're in a tight spot and you desperately need your data back quickly, try calling us on 0800 999 3282 our team will be able to give you an over the phone assessment and arrange a free courier collection so that we can get your drive in for a free assessment in our lab.

If you're in a tight spot and you desperately need your data back quickly, try calling us on 0800 999 3282 our team will be able to give you an over the phone assessment and arrange a free courier collection so that we can get your drive in for a free assessment in our lab.

Emergency Synology Server RAID 10 Recovery

We had a distressing call from a customer who had his RAID 10 server affected by Ransomware. Knowing this, we immediately told the customer to not power on the server and get it sent straight to us.

Synology RAID 10 server

The diagnosis prior to its arrival was that the main server had been attacked by Ransomware and that the Veeam Backup Snapshots have been deleted. Once the server was sent in, we removed all the drives from the server and imaged each one so that we have a copy/clone of each drive (and also it helps us determine if there is anything else wrong with the drives).

Once the drives had been cloned and the customer paid upfronts, then we proceeded to scan the drives. Since the original drives were 4TB in size, it took a fairly long time to fully scan the drives and check the data.

Due to what has happened to all the drives in the first place, we could only do a partial recovery, but it was the best we could do, we couldn't get any better as the Ransomware attack was too damaging to the data.

The end result was that we managed to save a lot of data (structured and RAW data) to an internal drive even though some may not be entirely usable due to the Ransomware damage.

Seagate 2.5" Drive Recovery - Failed NAND Chip

We recently had a 2.5" Seagate drive sent in to us which was initially diagnosed as having bad sectors due to the fact that it was spinning but was running slower and slower on the machine to the point where it was not accessible any more. It was also a Laptop SSHD, so sourcing for a matching donor would not be easy since you have to match a certain firmware code which was only available on a certain amount of Seagate laptop drives.

Seagate 2.5 drive recovery SSHD laptop

As it turned out, this drive didn’t just have bad sectors, but it had multiple faults (Firmware, electronic and Mechanical).

This is what the engineers had to do with the drive:

  • Firmware was built from 2 ROMs to allow access to the hard drive and correct the errors and the damaged modules that were present on the drive.

  • Then since the NAND chip on the hard drive had failed, a 2nd Firmware had to be built and modified to ignore the failed chip.

  • We also had to perform a head swap on the drive, because once it had started to spin there was a clicking sound coming from it which suggests that there had been a head crash, so we had to find a matching donor and therefore change the heads.

  • Then a 3rd Firmware had to be built based on the other 2 Firmware’s to allow the New donor PCB (which was found in our stock) to be paired with the drive so that it would act as the original PCB.

  • Once the drive is paired then all the engineers had to do was clone the drive, which was an easy process compared to the above. Cloning completed only an hour after the drive was fully recognised. The drive finished cloning with 0 errors and 0 bad sectors.


It was a long process but the engineers stuck with it and managed to recover the data from the drive even though there were many problems with the drive.

Hard drive failures require immediate action. You need fast, secure results, and R3 offers the solutions you need to effectively maintain your data and system after any type of failure. Call us today at 0800 999 3282 to get started with your unique case.

SanDisk Cruzer Edge 32GB Data Recovery (Case Study)

SanDisk Cruzer Edge 32GB with Crystal Oscillator
  • Wednesday 13:37 - Client made contact - The client sent a web enquiry that his SanDisk USB stick had been physically broken and contained data he needed to retrieve.

    R3 advised that with physical damage the recovery method was dependant on how badly the break was and where it was, some cases of physically damaged USB drives may need a direct read of the Nand flash chips that store the data.

    The client advised he would like to have a think about it and get back to us at which point he was sent a formal quote by email with his unique reference number.

  • Friday 12:07 - Client accepted - The client wanted to proceed and his device was shipped to our lab in Sheffield from his location in Suffolk. He was advised as per all customers shipping to us to follow our recommendations on packaging.

    The device was to be shipped using registered post to be with us the next working day.

  • Monday 09:15 - Received - The broken memory stick was delivered to us Monday morning at which point it was booked into our DB and the client was advised.

  • Monday 10:02 - Diagnosis and temporary repair - One of our lab engineers diagnosed the device and confirmed the damage to be a clean break of the USB connector (the circuit board was bent but not damaged). The device did have a failed crystal oscillator (on the right side of the image) that had to be replaced.

    This left the device in a temporary working state which allowed an image to be made of the USB stick and backed up on our secure server. In all cases an image of the entire device is taken before the extraction of the lost data is performed.

  • Monday 10:54 - Data backed up and recovery listing sent - After the recovery of any data it is important to reassure the customer their data has been recovered and is safe.

    R3 provide a listing of all the data recovered so that customers can be certain their data is there for verification purposes, it also provides a verification to ensure any files that might be damaged are known about.

    This is something R3 offered free of charge for our customers, other companies often charge for this stage of the recovery process. Another recovery done less than 24 hours after arrival!

  • Tuesday 17:06 - Client confirmation and secure download - The client confirmed he had check the listing of the recovered data and advised he was happy to proceed.

    After the formality of invoice and payment the data was sent back to him by secure transfer so he was able to download straight away rather than having to wait for it to be sent back on a new USB stick.

  • Wednesday 13:30 - Dispatched - Client asked if we would send back a second copy on a new USB stick to his business address in Somerset.

R3 Data Recovery is real lab that deals with real disasters each an every day. If you have any sort of problem with a USB memory stick or any other data storage device, we are the people to contact. Call us today on 0800 999 3282 for immediate help and assistance.