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

64GB Emergency SD Card Recovery (Case Study)

A customer who is from The Netherlands contacted us about a faulty SD card. The issue was that he had some trouble accessing the Card that was in his camera, it didn’t help that the device was full which prevented him from saving any more images to his memory card.

After a quick assessment and quote by phone he soon brought his SD card into the lab, as well as an external drive for the recovered data to be transferred to.

Emergency SD Memory Card Recovery

The Data Recovery Process

29/11 at 17:25pm - The customer sent in the SD card at 14:12pm, and after 3 hours the engineers managed to find the data and copy it to the customer’s external drive. The problem with the SD Card was a electornic fault on the printed sircuit board, the engineer had to do some tricky soldering to get the device working again.

30/11 at 10:09am - The customer’s data was copied to his external drive and a file listing of the data was also sent to him by email, this was so that he could check to see if the file headers were ok. (Screenshots were also sent due to the files being CR2s which had no distinctive file names).

4/12 at 16:20pm - The customer then paid for the recovery and came down to pick up the external drive with the recovered data on it, he was very satisfied with how we handled the recovery and said that he would definitely recommend us.

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

Emergency 4TB Seagate Barracuda Recovery (Case Study)

A customer called us up to discuss a couple of 4TB Seagate 3.5" drives. The customer explained that he can't read anything from the hard drives neither can load them up successfully, and further mentioned that both drives had the statement:

You need to format the disk in Drive "blank": before you can use it.

This suggests that the drives both have bad sectors and that it is not the best idea to keep powering up the drive or the amount of bad sectors will accumulate leading to more problems with accessing the drive and data.

SEAGATE 4TB HARD DRIVE

The Data Recovery Process

07/09/2017 13:01pm - Both Drives Quoted and Awaiting Arrival of devices - The customer had been quoted a reasonable price (for an emergency service) for both drives and it was a case of the customer arranging a collection so that the drives would be sent to us. We also stressed that the customer packages the drives well to avoid any physical damage to the drive inside and outside.

08/09/2017 10:34am - Received Drives - The drives had arrived the day after the customer accepted the quotation. We immediately booked in the drives to the database, picked a couple of image drives from the image cupboard and sent them through to the lab to be diagnosed.

08/09/2017 13:38pm - Diagnostic and cloning - At this point the drives had been booked in and the drives were diagnosed. There were a couple of SMART errors on both drives and also there were some firmware corrections that had to be done, but the reality was there was not too much wrong with the drives. After the problems had been corrected we could safely put both drives for cloning.

09/09/2017 11:21am - Cloning completion and Data Transfer - By this time both drives had finished cloning. The first drive finished with 6 bad sectors and the second drive finished with no bad sectors at all. It was now a case of transferring the data to a couple of 3TB external drives.

11/09/2017 17:05pm - Transfer completion and Awaiting Payment - The data from both drives finished copying to the external drives on 10/09.

14/09/2017 11:18am - Payment complete and Drives dispatched - Payment was received and both sets of data were sent out to the customer.

To conclude, given that there was a lot of data to clone and transfer, we managed to recover the data fairly quickly and on top of that get a satisfactory review from the 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.

EMC SAN RAID 5 Disaster Recovery Alert

An unknown number of EMC Storage arrays could be a ticking time bomb in the event the data on them is not backed up elsewhere.

An obscure bug in an EMC RAID controller is a rare discovery for any data recovery engineer but the team approach by R3 achieved a recovery that very few data recovery labs in the world have ever seen let alone recovered successfully.

​This is of interest and notable because most Dell / EMC technical / disaster recovery support engineers would just declare the data corrupt and unrecoverable, restore from a backup and not realise it is possible it will happen again.

EMC RAID Storage System in the Lab at Secure House Sheffield

​Cloud Backup Gone Wrong​​​​​​​

​A problem with a cloud backup meant that the only chance of saving months of work from being lost was to call a data recovery company.

R3 initially lost the job to a substantially cheaper / high risk data recovery / computer forensics investigators. The client did subsequent investigations and elected to retrieve the server from the competitors HQ in Wales and drive it direct to Security House in Sheffield.

The 15 Disk RAID 5 configuration included 1 hot swap disc, but 2 of the Seagate FC series fibre channel discs had failed.

The recovery was complicated at a number of levels but in summary:

  • A disc had failed
  • A hot disc did not work
  • Another disc failed
  • The resync to the hot disc failed in some unexplained manner

The discs were formatted 520bytes per sector which was common for enterprise class SAN but data recovery algorithms / software are most stable working with 512byte per sector formatting.

The client contacted a British / Global data recovery company who were unable to diagnose the problem or propose a solution and R3 were called to take over the case.

On the face of it solving the disc failures, imaging conversion, VMFS and recovery of specific data from within just 1 of dozens of VMs was complex enough.

But as the tasks progressed something was wrong and it just did not make sense.

During any disaster / failure there are a number of factors​ - each year I manage several of the larger disasters in UK and dozens of relatively routine for the R3 team recoveries with disc arrays in pools from as little as 4, 6 12, and others with 24, 55, 180 and recently a pair of 240x 4TB SAN with varying RAID combinations and Tables.

But this EMC RAID 5 was different, it not only had a very seriously degraded disk which had sustained a head crash but the resync had written as data not parity and prevented the data from the RAID being accessible.

In fact it prevented a RAID recovery being possible. R3 engineers were initially stumped because the last disc to fail was proving difficult to get a full image from and took a few days in itself to be recovered and its image converted to 512bytes per sector.

The first to fail disc initially was ruled out as one of the discs being needed because it was out of sync by several weeks.

But on rebuilding the RAID5 volume the VMs were showing as corrupt and all involved including the developers of RAID recovery software and hardware could not help and hit a dead end.

Later we realised just how unique this EMC failure was and that no one had identified a similar case ever.

EMC now part of Dell is "fairly good gear" R3 have worked on a number EMC data recovery cases where multiple disc failures have caused the data to be inaccessible but non that effectively wrote back to a RAID5 disc member in RAID0.

All involved had never seen anything like this on an EMC or on any hardware for that matter.

After solving this a bespoke system configuration was built and a script developed. All VMs were extracted in order of priority and the contained data extracted and tested by the client.

Apart from the normal server dirty shutdown problems needing some database file repairs it was a full recovery.

A Morning In Our Data Recovery Lab At Secure House

These are just some photos of the lab all in one morning.

R3 Data Recovery is a central lab located in Sheffield but we can arrange collection by dedicated driver or parcel courier anywhere in the UK or Europe just use the contact form to make a no obligation enquiry or give us a call on 0800 999 3282.

Morning in a data recovery lab 01
Morning in the data recovery lab 02
Morning in the data recovery lab 03

The Purpose of File Listing a Drive

When a drive has had the data transferred from one of our image drives to an external drive we start what is called a “file list”.

A file list is a file listing and integrity check which basically means that it is a full representation of the data that is recovered and that it can tell you what the quality of the recovery is and also what files are corrupt, ok or not recognisable.

The file list is generated as a couple of file types:

  • CSV file type - This is more of a spreadsheet file type so we normally open it in Microsoft excel or at a push Notepad (txt format). A CSV opens up as just a list so you can’t view the folder structure, only the files and the directories.
  • HTML file type - This is generated using the listed files from the CSV however it is represented in the way of a normal folder structure like you would find on your machine. This gives the customer a greater representation of what we have managed to recover and it is more recognisable to them as they have probably seen the folder structure every day for a long period of time.
File Listing Example

File lists are a great way for us to show the customer what we have been able to recover in a way where the customer is able to recognise it better than just a list of files. It is also a good way for the customer to let us know if there is anything missing. Every customer that has a job in with us will receive a file listing, it is included within every service we offer and is one of the most important steps on the road to a successful recovery for both us here at R3 and the customer.