The Importance Of Image Drives

Both cloning and imaging create an exact record of your drive or partition. This consists of not only the files, but the master boot record, allocation table, and everything else needed to boot and successfully run an operating system.

This isn’t necessary for protecting your data as a simple file backup will handle that particular job just fine. However should your hard drive crash or Windows become hopelessly corrupt, a clone or image backup can quickly get you back to work.

When you clone a drive, you copy everything on it onto another drive, so that the two are effectively identical. Normally, you would clone to an internal drive made external via a SATA/USB adapter or enclosure.

But imaging a drive is more like creating a great big .zip file (without the .zip extension). Image backup software copies everything on the drive into a single, compressed, but still very large file. You would probably save the image onto an external hard drive.

What are the advantages of each?

Should your primary hard drive crash, a clone will get you up and running quickly. All you have to do is swap the drives.

On the other hand, if your drive crashes and you've backed it up to an image, you'd have to buy and install a new internal hard drive, boot from your backup programs emergency boot disc, and restore the drives contents from the backup.

Why image?

An image backup provides greater versatility when backing up. You can save several images onto one sufficiently large external hard drive, making it easier and more economical to save multiple versions of the same disk or back up multiple computers.

Get advice and assistance from Andy and the team at 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.

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.

Why Encryption Is Needed When It Comes To Data Recovery

Encryption is very important, especially with Data Recovery. Customer data is top priority and to make sure the data is 100% safe and secure, we would need to encrypt the hard drive.

Once data is recovered from a customer's hard drive, we transfer the data to one of our external drives and encrypt it with a password.

The reasoning behind encrypting external drives is so that the data can be stored as securely as possible, so if the drive is password protected then no one can access your personal or confidential data.

Importance of data encryption

There are many different kinds of encrypting software that you can use to encrypt your device (Symantec, McAfee, WD security if you have a WD drive and SecretZone if you have a Maxtor external drive etc). There are also ones that come as standard with the Operating system that you are using (FileVault encryption for MAC, Bitlocker encryption for Windows 7 pro/windows 10).

However, if you somehow forget your encryption password or if you try and encrypt but the hard drive crashes half way through encrypting then there's no way of accessing that data again, if you have another backup of it then you would have to re-format the hard drive and re-copy the data to it.

It's always essential for any IT business to have some sort of encryption, even if it is a business server that is password protected.

If you are struggling with the best way to encrypt a hard drive then click on the link below:

Emergency Western Digital 5 Disk RAID 5 Recovery

Recently we had an enquiry which was a customer that had an issue with his 5 disk RAID which had affected his business. He immediately wanted our help as we agreed with him that we could potentially get the data recovered for him in under 12 hours.

WD 5 disk RAID recovery

The RAID and drives arrived by a dedicated driver in the early hours of the morning and the work commenced immediately.

Drives A, B, C and D were assessed as being perfectly ok and were completely accessible. The problem arose with Drive E as that particular drive was deemed as faulty as there were bad sectors and many CRC errors with the drive. We recognised this as we realised that it was slow responding.

Luckily with this RAID configuration you can get away with working with 4 out of the 5 drives, so we didn’t use the drive that was fault and we just carried on with the others.

At this point one of the engineers had found the Operating system partition which had the data on it and it was just the matter of copying time.

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.

A Retro Moment - Toshiba MK1403MAV Recovery

At R3 Data Recovery we deal with many types of storage devices, consumers need to backup more and more data now the access to music and photography is easier with electronic goods such as mobile phones.

With the trend towards faster, higher capacity and more compact hard drives, it's nice to change the pace a little and work with something from a little earlier.

Toshiba MK1403MAV circa 1997 with a capacity of 1.4GB was such a case, a small 2.5” laptop style hard drive with an IDE interface. Probably a proud moment for the Toshiba engineers to break the 1GB barrier and it was used in many computer based devices from that era.

Thankfully the hard drive was recovered with only a handful of bad sectors and the client was over the moon, but testament to Toshiba engineers also who did a good job 20 years ago.

Toshiba MK1403MAV In The Lab

Bootable Clone?

Here at R3 Data Recovery we see lots of storage devices each day ranging from hard drives to USB sticks to 30 disk servers, it definitely varies from day to day.​

With each device comes a reason for failure. A lot of the hard drives we see are sent into us because the customer said​

"I can see the drive but can't access it"

"It's taking ages to copy data to it"

The usual cause of this is what we refer to as a build-up of bad sectors/bad blocks rendering the media on the drive degraded. This will cause the drive to become slow and eventually it will stop working and fail.​

So, if this is happening to your drive, we suggest you stop using the drive and contact a data recovery professional.

In our data recovery lab we have the ability to fix and read the bad sectors with our specialist equipment. This could mean that a full clone of the drive could be made meaning no missed/unread sectors. Obviously, this will also depend on the drive and if there are any other problems with it.

It is not always possible to get a fully cloned drive, however in the event that we do get a fully cloned drive, it is possible that we are able to create a bootable clone so you are able to plug your device straight back into your machine. This will only obviously work for a drive that contains an operating system on it and is used to boot a machine up.

Like previously said it isn't always possible to get a full clone in order to be able to create a bootable clone, it is down to how badly degraded the drive is and if we can read the bad sectors or not.

Do you think your device is failing due to media degradation? Call us today at 0800 999 3282 to get immediate help and advice from our data recovery specialists.

The Knowledge of Matching Donor Drives

Here at R3 Data Recovery, matching donors is a very important part of some recovery processes. As in some circumstances drives that come into our lab require multiple re-builds and donor parts. So having the experience and knowledge of finding these donor parts gives us a huge advantage. 

Wiped Seagate donor drive

Matching donors however isn’t always as straight forward as you may think.​

Obviously to look at two same model drives and their parameters laid out on the lid sticker it appears simple to match them. And sometimes it is, however some drives aren’t always what they say on the lid.​

Some drive for example may begin life as a 3TB, however when going through the testing stages at the factory, the drive is found to have too many bad sectors than normal and the drive therefore has to be changed to a smaller capacity so the drive doesn’t use the surface all the bad sectors are located on.

This means that a drive may look like a 2TB for example but it could have once been a 3TB or even a 4TB in its life time.

This becomes a problem when looking for donor parts as generally bigger the capacity of the drive the more read/write heads and more platter surfaces are used/needed. So, when coming to look for a part, it is possible that the drive we are sourcing a donor part for may not have the number of heads we would normally presume it has.​

This means that we would have to look for a drive that had the same number of heads, and had been downgraded from factory like the original device. This can be tricky as there is no way of determining this from looking at the device specifications like we would normally, we would have to use specialist software to be able to check how many heads a drive has, but then it may not be the right head geometry. 

However, with all the experience that our engineers and assistants have gained over the years, searching for parts in our huge parts stock is getting easier day by day, as we learn more and more about the drives that are coming in for recovery.

And with this knowledge the outcomes of each new job that we receive at R3 are becoming increasingly positive.

If you believe that you have a mechanically failed hard disk then get into contact with our sales team and get a free quotation over the phone. Call us today at 0800 999 3282 to get started with your unique case.

A Customers Perspective: Extreme Anxiety to Elation in 48 Hours

I am a fashion photographer and I was on location shooting in Italy when one of my hard drives with my current work got damaged. It was showing the catalogue and list of names of the folders but not showing any of the images inside those files but still showed that I had used 500 GB of storage.​

I tried it in any computer and MacBook (It is a mac hard drive) I could get my hands on. I then started to panic because the computer would freeze when I tried to open it and on some computers it wouldnt read the hard drive at all.​

R3 Emergency Recovery Specialists in the UK

In a crying panic frenzy I googled data recovery UK and found an emergency number for a man called Andy Butler at R3 Data Recovery who soon became my favourite person in the world.

I was ever so slightly hysterical on the phone and he managed to calm me down and got me to explain what had happened and explained that it was likely to be an issue with the signalling between the catalogue and the data itself.​

I wasn't due back in the UK for another 4 days and was trying to think of what I could do or how I could get the HDD to him before then. I decided to book an emergency flight home the next morning because I couldnt sit and do nothing, especially not knowing how serious the situation could be.​

I flew to London and got a train straight to Sheffield where I was met by Andy and his charming driver who took me straight to their lab where I promised not to cry or touch anything and sat in the corner hoping they could work their magic. They sent me off for a few hours and said they would call me hourly with an update.​

I have to state that I initially called him on a Saturday night in a mess emotionally and this was Monday morning so I was like most creative people I know, quite last minute but he made time for me.

He told me there was a problem with the heads of a hard drive (I gained a lot of knowledge of the ins and outs of data and hardware that day) and they were replacing them with other heads and coding to try and talk to the data.​

Long story short after a couple of tantrums, lots of tears, travelling over 2500 km Andy and his team of geniuses managed to rescue all of my images in one day and they were all in order and in the correct files (I have been told sometimes when rescuing data it can get mixed up and in the wrong order/ folder).

I put all my work and faith in his hands and he didn't let me down and was completely charming and wonderful from start to finish of my mini meltdown data lost and found experience. What a brilliant man. I am so happy I found R3 data recovery but in the nicest way possible I hope I won't have to see them again too soon and that my technology will all be ok and my backups wont fail!

It did cost me £1000 (because I needed 2 new hard drives and I needed it all doing in 1 day and most people allow 7-10 days) but you can't put a price on your career and other clients work and it was worth every penny. I am so very grateful that he went above and beyond to help me and was at the end of the phone with every question I had.

Amelia - London

Get advice and assistance from Andy and the team at 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.

How Easy Are Mechanical Recoveries?

​Any job that arrives here at R3 Data Recovery that is diagnosed as having a mechanical fault, needs to be left untouched and not powered up again until a rebuild has been performed on the drive. In almost all cases, having a mechanically failed drive means that a head swap is needed, so we would need to source for a matching donor that has working heads and swap the heads from both drives.

R3 hard drive heads and platters

​There are two stages of mechanical recoveries:

Stage 1 - This stage is less severe of the two and should only require one donor. This stage is for if the drive has what the engineers at R3 refer to as stiction, this is basically where the read/write heads stick to the platters. Once the heads have stuck to the platters, the disk can be prevented from spinning up and can cause physical damage to the platter and ultimately the data stored on the disk.​

Another situation that falls under this stage are if the heads are slightly bent or damaged due to the drive being dropped. In most cases we can recover the data when the drive is at a stage 1 providing of course that we can obtain a matching donor drive, which we can almost all the time.

Stage 2 - This stage is the most severe and is only deemed a stage 2 if there is a significant amount of damage inside the drive. Normally it is if the drive has visible rings or scratches on the platters, or if there are heads missing then the drive would be classed as a stage 2.​

If a drive is at this stage then one donor won’t be enough, depending on how damaged the drive is we would have to use at least 2 donors, in some cases up to 5 or 6 but that’s only if the surface area is severely damaged. Normally if the rings aren’t visible on the platters then it would only be a stage 1 as it wouldn’t be anything too major only a few areas that can’t be read, but if there are visible rings then it suggests that the heads have dug into the platters so much that there is just nothing left. This is one of the most difficult circumstances for a mechanical recovery.

To conclude, mechanical recoveries are not easy to do which is why we have trained and highly experienced engineers who are quick at the job but are also extremely careful when handling the inside of your drive. There can be different levels of difficulty in performing mechanical rebuilds, but at R3 Data Recovery we adhere to give every mechanically failed drive the best possible chance of recovery.

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.

Sector by Sector Data Recovery (RAW Recoveries)

​At R3 we get plenty of jobs that need data recovering in certain ways, whether it's a mechanical recovery (if a customer has most likely dropped the Hard drive), or if a drive has accumulated bad sectors due to its age/use of the drive. More often than not we get jobs that are sent to us which need data recovering that has either been deleted or overwritten, or if it has had an operating system installed over the top of it.

Normally if it's just deleted data then we would be able to search for the data easily after one simple scan from our recovery software (although the data may be damaged due to some sector changes with the files after they become deleted).

However, if it turns out the data has been overwritten or the drive has had a re-installed operating system, then we would have to delve deeper to find any trace of any of the customers data. So, to try and improve the accuracy of our findings we look for the file types that the customer requests using a sector by sector recovery (RAW recovery).​

What this means is that every individual sector is scanned for whichever file header(s) you have searched for​. One of the main problems with this type of recovery is that it will recover any file no matter how large as long as it has that file header it will recover it. So, it could be a file you deleted 5 years ago but if the file header is still there and it hasn't been overwritten it will recover it, but in most cases, these are corrupt as the rest of the files sectors have been overwritten by new data.​

Another downside with this recovery method is that it doesn't recover the names of the file but only the contents of the file which causes you to have numbered files e.g. 037654.jpg the number indicates the beginning sector of the file which is the sector where the file header will be located. In some cases, this is the only option that we have to have a chance of recovering the customers data.

RAW recovery of files - sector by sector