Rise in “abused” drives with highly valuable data 1. >>

January 22nd, 2013

It is truly disheartening to see the rise in occurrences of drives containing highly valuable data, “abused” by the IT teams before it was brought to Cherry Systems Lab.
These “abused” drives arrive at our lab in good or bad economic times, but clearly at a higher rate during bad economic times. One reason for this phenomenon is fairly clear, good dependable data recovery services are not cheap, it requires extensive training and expensive facilities to maintain a high quality reputable data recovery lab. Owners of failed drives, as-well as the IT person who diagnosed the failure, when hit by the news that the drive failed, try to delay or avoid referring to a qualified recovery center, by utilizing improper tools or processes too long. This is primarily the reason we use the term “Abused Drive”.
We are not at all advocating that IT techs should never attempt to remove data from an ailing drive. But we want to make sure that they clearly know when to STOP-TRYING, or not try at all. Simply because trying too long may reduce or worse, diminish the chance of recovery even by a well trained and well equipped lab like Cherry Systems.
In earlier discussions we used an analogy by asking the question; “when should an ill patient, with repeat headaches, stop using pain-killers and go to the qualified doctor to be treated professionally?” The same question should be asked by IT techs assigned to recover data from an ailing hard drive. “What is the proper tool and how long should I keep trying?”
For more specific and important information please come back to part 2 on this site.


NAS the hidden double threat to small-business >>

December 5th, 2012

RAID (Redundant Array of Inexpensive Drives) recovery is not a new data management problem, but it is becoming more evident that a growing number of companies, falling into this predicament, are the ones who are least prepared to recover financially from this type of loss.
Cherry Systems, Inc. is technically capable and highly successful in recovering data from RAID systems used by medium and large corporations, predominantly due to the fact that these companies can absorb the relatively higher cost of the recovery and are able to proceed with the full recovery. However we are observing a disturbing change in some end users’ ability to complete these recoveries.
The source of this problem shift is that an increasing number of incidents where data is lost involving RAID’s, and have a low rate of completion, are in the area of small businesses; for example a small law firm, CPA practice, a wedding photographer, or a Dental office etc. The low completion rate is not attributed to technical limitations. It is due many times to the fact that these types of small businesses can’t produce or allocate the funds to pay for it. Up to 50% of small businesses struggle to pay for such a recovery. It is apparent from numerous studies over the past 20 years, that the overall impact on the small business could be devastating and the business will quite likely fail within 3-6 months.

The other 15 to 20% of issues involving the inability to complete the recovery is due to the fact that these small businesses, for no fault of their own, are sold on the solution that an inexpensive NAS or a cheap file server, many under $500 (see picture above), will get the job done. The reality is that many times these inexpensive storage devices are performing according to what they were designed to do, work only for a short while. Keeping in the spirit of low cost they include cheap drives, inadequate voltage supply, and poor ventilation, and to complicate matters, these customers are also told that the redundancy will protect them. Therefore, very few users implement a backup system due to the additional cost and the complexity in monitoring.
As inevitable as it is with most highly technical and complex technologies, comes that fateful day when the NAS device is “inaccessible”, with no warning, and no recourse. After all, they were meant to be as inexpensive as possible and part of it is achieved by stripping away from the NAS, the important aspects of monitoring and recovery functionality.
Cherry Systems Inc. is known for our relentless effort to find a way for these small businesses to overcome the financial hurdle. We have been successful in helping the client negotiate with their business insurance adjustor, and to get reimbursed by their business insurance carrier. Also, we can negotiate a workable payment plan, which will allow the customer to get the data they need to continue operation.


Customer Service in the Data Age >>

June 1st, 2012

Quality customer service is somewhat of a difficult claim to prove sometimes, and then a single customer service event comes along that solidifies that claim.  At Cherry Systems we recently had an opportunity to prove not only that we are a great customer service oriented operation but also that the customer’s data is completely safe with Cherry Systems.  As you read this story you may think just a lucky hit.   Let me assure you that this is just one recent example of many.

A customer called our Recovery.Advisor line on May 17th 2012, inquiring about a 1” 4 Gb hard drive he brought in for evaluation in June 13th 2008 (almost four years ago).  After quoting the customer the price of the recovery in June 2008 we have not heard from him.  All attempts to contact the customer were unsuccessful.

Upon his request to resurrect the recovery, using our modern job-tracking-system, we matched his name with a job number under which his drive was accepted.  In less than a day the drive was located in our long-term storage.  In the exact same condition it was checked-in.  That is customer-service!

The reason why this is so significant is; We at Cherry Systems Inc. know how valuable your data can be and we make every effort to recover it, protect it and hold it seemingly forever,  for the just-in-case scenario.  We want our customers and prospective customers to know, that when you trust Cherry Systems, you can rest assured that no data has ever been compromised, been leaked or has been lost in our facility, in our more than 25 years of existence.


What to do if you dropped, kicked, tipped-over or subjected any hard drive with trauma #3? >>

October 14th, 2011

There is over 95% certainty that an operating drive that was dropped or kicked is seriously damaged, even if it keeps working after you pick it up.  Rarely does it continue to work after the trauma for more than a few hours, most of the time it may work for a couple of minutes with difficulty reading any files.  So if you keep using it you are taking a major gamble if you have valuable information on that drive.

Non-powered drives are much less likely to fail than powered ones.   But the problem is that the risk is still significant enough to be cautious.   The highest likelihood of damage to dropped non-powered drives, is for the READ-WRITE  heads to get deformed from the impact.  Powering a drive with such damage will most definitely cause severe platter media damage.   So what is the best action to take? “Let a qualified recovery lab check the sealed area of the drive”.  If they prove that there is no damage, go ahead and use it, but MAKE-A-BACKUP asap.   If there is damage, you have a choice to make.  The checkup should cost a minimal fee under $50, and some like Cherry Systems will do it for free.


What to do if you dropped, kicked, tipped-over or subjected any hard drive with trauma #2? >>

October 7th, 2011

What happens to the media surfaces of a dropped drive?  If you are old enough to remember vinyl music records, you can visualize the needle being forcefully moved across the record surface and making a deep non-concentric groove, which often rendered that record unusable.  For the younger reader, think about a CD or DVD that made contact with a rough surface or is badly scratched and will not play anymore.  Similarly to the playback-head of a record player, the force of a dropped drive will cause the READ/WRITE heads to move across the platters and make several damaging contacts with the media surfaces.  The contact will typically dislodge a sizeable amount of the magnetic material, which will then be dragged along with the moving READ/WRITE heads, causing further damage.  You would be amazed how quickly the disk surfaces will deteriorate to a dusty-mess.  That is why we suggested in our first blog post on this subject to PULL-THE-PLUG!!

Because the damage is mostly to the media, there is absolutely nothing that a non-data-recovery-lab engineer can do.  An inexperienced attempt by anyone else, will only make things worse!

Next posting we will cover, what happens to a dropped drive which was not-powered at the time of the trauma.


What to do if you dropped, kicked, tipped-over or subjected any hard drive with trauma? >>

September 20th, 2011

The bottom line is that one could do no more harm to a hard drive, than one of the above traumas.  The largest risk factor of permanent data-loss usually begins with this type of an event.  What you do right after this type of event will greatly determine the outcome, or in other words, the success of, a recovery.  The first action is, immediately disconnect the drive!  Don’t wait for a ‘proper’ shutdown, PULL-THE-PLUG!!

Manufacturers and distributors are misleading us by publishing technical drive specs, that drives should be able to withstand 5 to 10G’s of shock.   What they are not saying is that they are only testing this type of resistance to shock, on media which is not powered.   Even then, if you drop it on the wrong corner, you may be in big trouble.

So, if  you are smart, and you read and obey the first recommended action (above), the next step is do not power that drive again, do not even let your IT guy try!!!   This media is now considered “Highly Fragile”, take it directly to a recovery lab like Cherry Systems Inc. and make absolutely sure they understand what happened to your drive. 

You have about a ZERO chance, or very close to it, to get the data out of the drive on-you-own (we will explain more in following postings).   People who neglected this advice almost always end up with a lot-of-ferrite dust inside the drive, and severe, if not complete, data loss.

For more advice and solutions tune-in to your next blog on this subject.


How to deal with flooded Digital Data Media 3 >>

September 15th, 2011

We can’t stress it enough, like in a case of a heart attack, the urgency to get care for a flooded drive is very similar.  For both of these cases, ‘TIME-IS-OF-THE-ESSENSE.’   In the case of flooded drives, ‘time is of the essence’, because oxidation, corrosion and rust doesn’t wait.

For the Tech savvy readers who want to know more:

Unusually high humidity, and even a short period of contact with fluids (like an accidental spill), can create both internal and external damage;

 **External  -  On the outside it will affect the controller board or PCB;  mostly by corrosion but also by creating  a short-circuit.   Commonly,  if  moisture gets underneath small surface mount components, it can short out the device.   It is impossible to see it or to clean it efficiently.   In modern drives (manufactured  in the past 6-8 years) you cannot simply replace the board with a “similar” one, even a very close match will not be good enough.

Please note that the above pertains to solid-state and flash media (Like SSD, or USB drives) also.

**Internal –  Most hard drives have “breathing” holes and access ports in the casing.  If a drive is soaked or submerged for even a short period of time, the fluids will find their way into the sealed portion of the drive, causing, in addition to corrosion, a chemical interaction with the platters and the special lubricants needed for proper operation.  The most damaging result is the breakdown of the thin film of residual lubrication fluid that coats the platters.  All of this has to be thoroughly cleaned,  by professionals, like the expert at Cherry Systems or the damage can be irreversible.

For more advice and solutions tune-in to your next blog


How to deal with flooded Digital Data Media 2 >>

September 7th, 2011

It is not redundant to keep repeating that in this case ‘TIME-IS-OF-THE-ESSENSE’, because oxidation, corrosion and rust does not wait.

One of our senior clean-room lab engineer, Jason, says:

  •  Time is of the essence, corrosion can occur in days and even hours depending on the other chemicals and agents in the water.  Freshwater is much better than saltwater, but certain chemical contaminants can be just as detrimental.
  • Do not power the drive if moisture or liquid is, or was present.
  • Do not attempt to dry-out the drive or equipment yourself, humidity and moisture is likely trapped inside the sealed portion of the drive.

 

Do not waste time with various software tools or solutions, either the very expensive or the free ones.  The media has to be cleaned and dried completely before applying power.

Do not loose time taking it to your favorite computer/IT store.  Instead find the closest data recovery lab with a qualified “clean-room” on-site like the one we have at Cherry Systems and either drive it or ship it over-night.  

 For more advice and solutions tune-in to your next blog


How to deal with flooded Digital Data Media 1. >>

September 2nd, 2011

Timely advice for flood victims, how to treat wet, soaked or submerged data storage media, like hard drives , SSD, FlashDrives, digital music players and SmartPhones.

We apologize by stating the common-sense advice first;  “The faster you get the wet media into the hands of a professional, like Cherry Systems  who is trained in dealing with this type of event, the more likely it is that you will get your data back”

Warning!!!

There is a lot of miss-information about what to do and how to do it DIY.  Most are best described as a form of Russian Roulette, where you are most likely to shoot yourself or your data.  The primary reason is Oxidation.

If you know a little about hard drive and storage media they are constructed using materials which get very easily and quickly OXiDiZED.  Exposure to moisture/water is not the primary problem, except that it accelerates the bonding with the Oxygen in the water and around it. 

The best way to slow down the process is a bit counter intuitive:  Isolate it from free oxygen molecules.  The quickest and cheapest way to achieve it is to:

Insert the storage media into a zip lock bag squeeze out the air as best you can and seal it with the water in which it was submerged inside.

 

For more advice and solutions tune-in to your next blog #2


Are you Committed to protect your data? Part 2: >>

March 3rd, 2011

In our previous post, we listed the 3 primary options for data backup:

In this post, we will tackle the much more difficult issue of selecting the right method for your situation.

 

If you have limited technical experience, I recommend you engage a data protection professional (an IT professional with advanced knowledge in data protection you can learn more in a coming post on this subject) Who can assess your needs, recommend a solution, and possibly help with implementation.  An hour or two to complete this work is money well spent.

 

Questions you should ask when evaluating backup solutions:  If we skip the cost for a moment, please consider the following;

  1. How much UNIQUE data do you have? Is it under 1Tb or more?
  2. Do you know how to take an “inventory of your UNIQUE data”?
  3. Is all your data in one location?
    1. Is it one centralized storage (like a server)
    2. Is it distributed on several networked devices in one building?
  4. Your comfort zone with file storage structures, and network storage.
  • If your comfort zone is minimal, you are better off using as simple a solution as possible like the “clickfree” external backup device like http://tinyurl.com/yaywrr9

Note:  you should have more than one unit to use alternately.

  • If you are ready to deal with network and remote locations,  a whole new set of option are available.
  1. How often does your UNIQUE data change?  You are going to have to backup often enough so as not to loose too much newer data between backups should a crash occur before your next scheduled backup.

 Look for our next post, part 3 on this very important subject.