RAID 5 HP Smart Array E200i Recovered

Smart Array E200i SaS Drive
HP Smart Array E200i SaS Drive

We have just competed a successful recovery from an HP Smart Array E200i RAID array. Not a standard case this. It had x3 DG146BB976 2.5″ SaS drives, two of which had been overwritten with a new RAID 1 mirror.

We found the disk order which was not the same as the labelled numbers. This is often the case. Also, due to the rebuild that had occurred we had to drop one of the disks and virtually rebuild it using the parity information from the other disks.

3 DG146BB976 SaS ST9146802SS Drives
3 DG146BB976 / ST9146802SS SaS Drives

What’s The Best / Most Reliable Hard Drive?

We get asked this question a lot. The simple answer is that there is no such thing as a reliable hard drive. This is nothing against the hard drive manufacturers, but all drives will fail eventually. Hard drives are delicate machines and must be treated with care. They are not designed to be the one and only storage for all your work, photos and videos. Imagine your computer never booting up again, and then imagine it happening during the most important job you have ever done. That’s how bad it could be, and often is for a lot of people.

A good lifespan for a hard drive is now probably around 3-5 years. In reality we often see hard drives that are only a few months old. If you’re a gambler then maybe you have got away with it so far, but is it really worth the risk?

Backup your data. Maybe then you won’t need to find out how good we are at recovering it.

Read more about backing up your data here

Seagate Head Crash

This Seagate ST31000333AS 1TB drive suffered a head crash resulting in severe media damage. The contamination caused by the damage can be seen on the disc surface as well as the internal filter. The filter is usually white but is now silver metallic in colour as a result of the contamination. The customer did not have any indication that this was going to happen.

Seagate Head Crash ST31000333AS
Seagate Head Crash ST31000333AS

 

Seagate Head Crash ST31000333AS
Seagate ST31000333AS Filter

Make a file or folder hidden in Finder

Sometimes when we clone a Mac drive using unconventional methods, it works fine, but has an annoying side effect; Files that are usually hidden in the Finder are instead displayed and accessible to users. These files are hidden for a reason, and contain things like the UNIX system files and some Mac system files which you probably shouldn’t mess with.

Luckily there is a simple terminal command to make these files hidden again. It doesn’t delete them, just changes their file attributes.

sudo chflags hidden filename

sudo allows you to run commands as Super User so be careful! It will ask for a password (but not display it as you type…)

Where it says filename you can either replace it with a file or folder name, or drag a load of folders onto the terminal window and it will fill out the names for you.

An example below:

sudo chflags hidden /var

That would hide the var folder on the root of the boot drive.

I found this really helpful but as usual use it at your own risk…

Mac Data Migration

Portsmouth Data Recovery

If we recover a good amount of your data, the easiest way to get your Mac running again is using the Migration Assistant – a standard Apple utility included with all modern versions of Mac OS X.

The process for restoration varies a little bit depending upon how your Mac is currently set up.

Best Case Scenario:

If you have a new hard drive with a fresh system installed, and have not yet clicked through the Setup Assistant screens follow this guide. >>>

2nd Best Case Scenario:

If you have a new hard drive and have set it up with a username you will need to follow this slightly more complicated guide. >>>

Mac migration to a previously setup system

So you have a Mac which boots up to a desktop as normal, but without your recovered data. This is not quite ideal, and gives us a few things to sort out before the migration. If you’ve not yet had your data recovered, check our Mac Data Recovery Services.

Arrange.

Migration Assistant
Migration Assistant

You will first have to backup any newly created data. If something goes wrong with migration then you don’t want to lose your new data. If this new system has been created with the same username as the old one, you will not be able to import the old user without renaming which is not advised. After you have backed up your files, you could open “System Preferences / Users & Groups,” (“Accounts” in pre Lion systems) and rename the current user to something else. This will allow you to transfer your original user account and Applications into the correct locations on the new system. If your system is set to automatically login to a user account (ie. doesn’t require a password when you boot) then you will need to turn off “Automatic Login” setting under Users & Groups to allow you to access the old user account.

Fingers crossed you should be ready to migrate.

Connect.

Connect the new hard drive to your Mac. If it’s a desktop 3.5” drive then plug in the power adapter and switch it on. If you are restoring to a laptop then it would be a good idea to have the AC adapter plugged in, as this can take a while.

Migrate.

Go to “Applications / Utilities” and launch “Migration Assistant”. Choose “From another Mac, PC, Time Machine Backup or other disk.” Then choose the second option; “From Time Machine Backup or other disk.” You should see the orange icon for the external drive, labelled with your job number. Click on it and then click continue.

Select.

You can choose to migrate everything, or be a bit selective. You cannot choose individual files to migrate, only whole user accounts, Applications, Settings, and other files. Make your choice and click next.

Wait.

The migration itself can take a while depending how much data you have. Once complete you can boot into the Mac and it will feel very familiar. As if nothing ever failed. If you backed up any files from the new system then now would be a good time to load them back on.

Migration Assistant generally does a good job of transferring your data and software. If any software installs files into the Mac system in unusual locations it may need to be reinstalled, but most Applications like Microsoft Office and Adobe Photoshop will be transferred correctly.

Mac migration to a freshly installed system

If you have a new drive in your Mac with a fresh system, this guide shows you how to get the recovered data back in the right places. We can transfer your whole user account and most Applications into the correct locations on the new system. When you reboot, the Mac will be back how you left it when the hard drive failed. Perfect!

Connect.

Connect the new hard drive to your Mac. If it’s a desktop 3.5” drive then plug in the power adapter and switch it on. The Mac should be off at this point. If you are restoring to a laptop then it would be a good idea to have the AC adapter plugged in, as this could take a while.

Power.

Power on the Mac, and wait for it to load the setup assistant. You will be asked a few questions so answer as necessary.

Migrate.

Choose “Migrate from another disk or Time Machine backup,” and then click next. You should see the orange icon for the external drive, labelled with your job number. Click on it and then click continue.

Select.

You can choose to migrate everything, or be a bit selective. You cannot choose individual files to migrate, only whole user accounts, Applications, Settings, and other files. Make your choice and click next.

Wait.

The migration itself can take a while depending how much data you have. Once complete you can boot into the Mac and it will feel very familiar. As if nothing ever failed.

Setup Assistant generally does a good job of transferring your data and software. Some software installs files into the Mac system in unusual locations & may need to be reinstalled or re-downloaded. Most Applications like Microsoft Office and Adobe Photoshop will be transferred correctly.

Badly Damaged Heads

Working inside a broken hard drive today we came across some of the most damaged read / write heads we have ever seen. First, below is an example of how the heads should look. Notice how straight they are at the ends. Then below are the damaged heads. They are at 90 degrees to the discs (tomb stoning) and would have been scraping the inner disc surfaces to pieces. Bad times!

Good Seagate Heads
Good Seagate Heads
Bad Seagate Heads
Bad Seagate Heads

If you ever hear scraping, scratching or screeching noises from your hard drive, turn it off as soon as possible. If left too long, it could scrape all of the magnetic coating off the discs until there’s nothing left to recover.

Dealing With RAW Data

What is Hard Drive Encrytion

What is RAW data?

Raw Data Recovery 1
Some Raw Word documents

Raw data is what we get when we recover files without their folder and file names. Instead of a My Documents folder, with photos and documents arranged into separate folders, what we get is a folder named JPEG for example, with thousands of consecutively numbered jpg files. The same with office documents, you would get a folder with thousands of doc, xls, docx or xlsx files.

These raw files will be fully usable and contain all the same info that they did originally. You will still be able to open them, edit them and save them, they are just unnamed.

Why is this data in RAW format?

When we recover data, we always prefer to get it back in the original structured form. When data has been deleted from a Mac, or when a hard drive has been reformatted and then partially overwritten, it can be impossible to rebuild all of the data in structured form, as the structure has been overwritten or damaged. This is when we opt for RAW files.

With a RAW recovery, what we are basically doing is searching the whole hard drive for files in known formats. This means we usually get a lot of office documents, jpg images, photoshop psd files and some others. If we need to find an unusual file type then we need a few sample files to be able to generate the correct scan info. RAW recovery is not always possible for every type of file. An example is Apple Garageband project files, which are actually just folders with the name .band on the end. On the mac, these folders are treated as packages, with folders and files inside that you don’t usually see,  (If you right click one and choose ‘Show Package Contents’ you will see what I mean,)  but for the purposes of RAW recovery we cannot get back those files. (We would however get back the RAW AIFF files and recordings from within the projects. It’s not ideal but may be better than nothing.)

What to do with the RAW files

If there is only a small number of files, then you can manually open them all up, see what’s inside and then rename them to something useful. Luckily, for certain file types, there are other ways to make sense of them. It’s called meta data, meta tags or EXIF data.

This meta information is stored inside the files, so even if the file and folder names are lost, we still have the tags.

A brilliant piece of software called Amok EXIF sorter will plough through thousands of jpg files, read their date tags and then place them in dated folders. It can also do other fancy things with tags, but default setting will create a decent structure.

For music, iTunes or any other music manager will usually rename the files in the library based on the artist and album tags. In iTunes, just make sure it is set to: ‘Keep iTunes media folder organised.’

Document files such as doc, docx, xls and xlsx also have some useful tags that we can use to make sense of the masses of numbered files.

Raw Data Recovery
Raw File Tags

In Windows, set the View to ‘Details’ and you should see a series of headings such as Name, Date Modified, Type, and Size. Date modified will show the date that the files were recovered so is useless for this task, however if you right click on this heading you will see other available columns, with ticks beside a few of them. The ‘More…‘ option at the bottom contains loads of tags that we can use to sort the data.

Good headings for office documents are Author and Date last saved. You can experiment and see if any of the other tags are more useful to your specific data.

Good headings for jpg files are Date taken (Date picture taken) and Camera model. Again, there are others which may be useful.

Raw Data Recovery
Raw Files Showing Author Tag