The Eight Commandments

1. Stop using the drive. Any mechanical faults can be worsened by using a failing hard disk drive.

2. Do not remove any covers or parts. Removing the top cover of a drive will introduce dust, particles, fingerprints and other contamination if not removed in a controlled clean environment. Some drives are also very difficult to realign once the cover has been removed.
3. DO NOT UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES PUT YOUR DRIVE IN A FREEZER! This dangerous myth has been doing the rounds for so long that it is almost common knowledge but unfortunately only a small number of drives respond well to such treatment. The risk of allowing moisture by way of condensation into the drive far outweighs the likelihood of it actually allowing you to get your data back. We have a high success rate and have never had the need to put a drive in a freezer. Recovery from a water / condensation damaged HD is likely to cost you a lot more than a regular recovery.
4. If you are going down the DIY software route, keep a very close eye on the process. Make sure you recover the data to a second (external if possible) hard disk. If the process stops at any point, or if it incurs hundreds of errors then it is best to stop the recovery and get the data recovered professionally. Also if the software reports that it will take more than a few hours for a drive under 1TB then don’t let it continue. There is likely some damage on the drive which will only get worse if the drive keeps being used.
5. Never attempt to repair a failing hard disk drive. Any writing to an unstable drive will not only fail to fix the problem but it could make the eventual recovery extremely difficult or even impossible. If you cannot afford professional data recovery then we suggest trying to backup the data first and then attempt to fix the drive without any fear of losing the important data.
6. RAID ONLY: Do not attempt to rebuild or reinitialise a problematic RAID array without first backing up the data. If the data cannot  be accessed then a data recovery professional is far more likely to be able to get the data before a destructive rebuild process. It is also important to note the locations and IDs of all drives and label them accordingly if the entire server or RAID enclosure cannot be sent for recovery.
7. Don’t run Windows Check Disk without first backing up your data. If you see the blue message for the first time that says something like:
Checking file system on C:
The type of file system is NTFS
One of your disks needs to be checked for consistency. You may cancel the disk check, but it is strongly recommended that you continue.
To skip disk checking, press any key within  7  second(s).
 Press any key to cancel the scan, you should then backup your data as soon as possible onto another drive, USB pen, DVD, CD or even Floppy Disk. Then you can safely reboot and run the check. BEWARE: The drive can be warning you that it is on it’s last legs. It could be just a one-off problem or the drive could be destined for the dustbin (after a secure erase of course).
8. Be very wary of any potential data recovery company. You will be trusting them with your precious data after all. Ask lots of questions and get some quotes up front. You should expect to pay between £250 – £750 for a single hard drive data recovery. This depends on factors such as drive capacity, failure type and turnaround time.

Toshiba 400GB 2.5" Drives

Toshiba have recently announced the new GSX series of hard disk drives. With 200GB per platter these 5400rpm drives should see the light of day by the end of the year. There are other notable features such as the new acoustic technology which aims to silence seek operations.

In addition to increasing areal density to 308 gigabits-per-square-inch, the 400GB MK4058GSX incorporates acoustic techniques that make the 5,400 RPM HDD nearly inaudible during seek operations.

Tosh have also announced the new GSY series of drives which will be a touch less spacious at 320GB but spin at a whopping 7200rpm with fast data throughput of 1020 megabits per second.

The Little-Big Drive

Toshiba has just announced the 1.8″, 160GB, 5400rpm MK1617GSG drive. Apparently designed for netbooks and other such small machines, it’s a shame that this drive is a tad on the bulky side. at 8mm thick, this drive would be bulging out the sides of a current iPod or MacBook Air. With a SATA interface though, this drive could make for some fun embedded type devices or mods. I would personally love to see one squashed into an eeepc. I also bet that this little baby will be far cheaper than an equivalent solid state drive.

Fujitsu Encrypted Hard Disks

Fujitsu’s new 80-320GB “MHZ2 CJ” drives come with a nice added feature. Not only do they spin at a reasonable 7200rpm, they also have the ability to totally lock you out of your data (And throw away the key). With AES-256 encryption you you can be sure that a forgotten password would wave bye-bye to your data. Currently, AES has yet to be broken in a feasible way, leaving a lengthy brute-force attack as the only option. I question the implementation, as we have seen a number of problems with hard drive passwords which are stored on the drive in the service area. Quite often the passwords become corrupt leaving the user locked out of their drive.  The only way to overcome hard drive passwords is by low-level firmware repair, effectively removing the password. This is likely not an option with disk encryption as you would expect a much more robust system. 
Whichever way you look at an encrypted drive, it could  cause major problems to people needing data recovery. Is it just a clever marketing scheme in a paranoid market or is there some really secure basis for the new technology. I can’t wait to get my hands on one and find out.

Read More On Engadget

1.6TB Ultra320 SCSI SSD

According to Engadget, BiTMICRO have announced a new solid state drive which packs in 1.6TB of storage into a 3.5″ form factor drive. The E-Disk Altima E3S320 promises sustained data transfer rates of up to 230MB per second and are also expected to be available in more modest 16GB varieties. Engadget suggest remortgaging your house which may not be too far wrong if current SSD costs are anything to go by.

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Toshiba Announce 240GB 1.8″ Drive

Toshiba DTR vs PMR
Toshiba DTR vs PMR

Toshiba announced some breakthroughs in magnetic storage that could theoretically see the 1.8″ hard drives pushing 240GB using two platters. Using a new process which adds grooves to the disc surface, Toshiba have been able to get 120GB per platter. Apparently this process is best suited to small drives such as 1.8″ & 2.5″ drives. Although this would mean a nice fat drive in our iPod, this process is expected to reach the manufacturing process in 2009.

The Worlds Worst Backup Solution; LaCie Big Disk Extreme+ 2TB

Anyone that has ever looked inside one of these “drives” will realise that they are only suitable for temporary storage capacity. There is nothing magical inside the enclosures, just a couple of standard hard drives and a small RAID 0 controller. What people (ie. general users) tend to do with a drive of this capacity is copy over all of the big data (pictures, movies and music) from their desktop or laptop computer and then delete it from the original location to save space. Not only is this not a backup but the chances of this drive failing are more than doubled due to the fact that the data is striped across two drives, either of which could fail at any time. In a RAID 0 only one drive needs to fail to take out all of the data.

One terabyte drive fails = 2TB of data gone!

Anyone thinking of using one of these should consider buying two and using software to mirror them. At least you would have some redundancy. There are of course much easier and not to mention cheaper ways to set up a redundant backup solution. We will post a more detailed guide of how to do this in the near future.

Samsung & Seagate Announce Terabyte Drives

Playing a game of catch up, Samsung and Seagate have gone head to head with Hitachi’s big boy by each announcing their version of a terabyte drive. Both drives feature the SATA 3Gps interface. The Samsung offering has only 3 platters opposed to Hitachi’s 5 and Seagate’s 4 which would suggest that it is not only more reliable but may be the forerunner of a future 1.5TB drive (with all that extra space for platters!).

Read more on Engadget

PNY unveils SSDs for laptops, iPods and more

Engadget today posted news of the new solid state disks from PNY. In 1.8″ and 2.5″ flavours they feature 66MB/s read and 55MB/s write speeds with standard ZIF, Micro SATA, 44-pin IDE and SATA interfaces. These drives will be simple replacements for laptops and will eventually (by the end of the year) be shipping 1.8″ and 2.5″ drives up to 128GB capacity. Finally my whole music collection can follow me to the gym without fear of trashing the 1.8″ drive and it’s glass platters! It is now more important than ever that people start to put a decent backup routine in place because with solid state storage there is not much a data recovery company can do to resurrect them when they fail.

Read More On Engadget

Hermetically Sealed Hard Drives

With drive capacity nearing the Terabyte mark, track density increases along with the gap between read / write heads and platters. Therefore are Hermetically sealed drives the the way forward for Manufacturers?

See link below to read more

http://www.touchbriefings.com/pdf/22/data031_t_MOUNTOP.PDF

 (Link Now broken, Provided for reference)