We have been offering Apple Mac Data Migration as a service for many years now. Here’s a quick reminder about this service which we call Mac Setup. You are bound to be over the moon when you are told that we have recovered your lost data, but in many cases this is only half the battle.
We wrote a detailed blog on the subject back in November 2011, but it still appears to trouble many customers.
We still often get the questions: “What do I do with the recovered data once I receive it?” and “How do I get the data back into it’s original places on my Mac?” For out-of-warranty Macs, this is where our Mac Setup comes into play. For a fixed cost we will provide you with a new installed hard drive, with all your recovered data migrated into it’s original locations, so that when you receive your Macintosh computer back, hey presto! it’s as if your Mac had never failed in the first place, everything up and running as it was.
In most computers, when you save files they get stored on a hard drive. Although you wouldn’t know it, the drive does not store your files in a straightforward way. The data is written magnetically by a fixed comb of heads stacked above one another. These heads pass between several magnetic discs, writing data as they go. In most cases, instead of storing files on one whole disk they are split up and spread across the disks. This means that when we carry out data recovery we usually need all of the disc surfaces in good condition to get the data back.
When required we can use a process to take the data from the drive by one disc surface at a time. This can allow us to avoid a failing head until we have the rest of the data extracted. When we have extracted all of the data the parts are combined to allow access the files. In some cases this is the only way to get the data back.
Hard drives do not allow access to individual disks during normal operations so we need to use specialist hardware and software.
We commonly need to access individual heads on Hitachi drives, due to degraded magnetic discs. Also if a drive is dropped when in-use, it will often damage at least one head.
Apple have recently announced a recall program for all iMacs with internal 1TB Seagate Hard Drives. These hard drives fail unexpectedly with no prior warning. We noted the failure of these hard drives in a post back in 2009. You can check whether your iMac has an internal 1TB Seagate Hard Drive by entering your iMac Serial Number at this link.
This recall program has now ended. If you have one of these hard drives that has failed you may be interested in our Mac Data Recovery Services.
When you boot up your computer, you expect to see all your familiar files on the desktop, or maybe in the documents folder. What you may not realise is that those folders are actually a bit harder to find if you look at the disk externally. It depends what operating system you use so below is a general guide of locations for Mac & PC users.
Windows Operating System
All user data should be stored within the user profile folder, which is created when the PCs is first used. This is usually located in the following locations depending on the version of Windows:
Windows 95, 98, NT, 2000 & XP
Local Disk C:\Documents and Settings\User ( for example C:\Documents and Settings\John )
C:\Users\User ( For example C:\Users\John )
In systems earlier than Windows 7, some software may be stored in the “Program Files” folder in the root of the drive. This was considered bad practice so in Windows 7 any Program Data should be found in the “Program Data” folder on the root of the drive and not in “Program Files.” Sage Accounts can often be found within the C:\Program Files\Sage\ folder.
Macintosh Operating System
All user data should be stored within the user folder, which is created when the Mac is first used. This is located in the following location:
Macintosh HD/Users/user ( for example Macintosh HD/Users/john )
We see various types of camera media come into us for data recovery, with surprisingly varied file formats. Many camera manufacturers use their own raw format, alongside various JPG options.
This raw format is sometimes known as a digital negative, containing (mostly) untouched data straight from the camera. These raw format images can be ten times the size of JPG images.
The benefits of raw files are to allow post-processing without the loss of quality from JPG files. Settings like sharpness, saturation and white balance can be changed at a later date using photographic software. Below are a few of the different raw file types in use.
The following is a description about some RAW formats:
CRW – Canon Digital Camera Raw Image Format. Raw image format for some Canon digital cameras. Raw images are basically the data as it comes directly from the CCD detector in the camera. Raw files can also contain text information about the picture and conditions in the camera when the picture was taken.
CR2 – Canon Digital Camera Raw Image Format version 2.0. Raw files can also contain text information about the picture and conditions in the camera when the picture was taken. These images are based on the TIFF image standard.
NEF – Nikon Digital SLR Camera Raw Image File. Raw image format for some Nikon digital cameras.
RAF – Fuji CCD-RAW Graphic File. Exif (Exchangeable Image File) information is within the file along with the image.
X3F – Sigma Camera RAW Picture File. Use the SIGMA Photo Pro software provided with the camera to download and manipulate the photos. The Foveon X3 direct image sensor captures all three colors at every pixel location and requires special software to manipulate the RAW files.
BAY – Kodak/Roper Bayer Picture Sequence. A specific Kodak picture format used by some high speed video cameras such as Kodak HRC-1000.
ORF – Descent 3 Outrage Room Format.
MRW – Minolta Diamage Raw Image File. Raw image format for some Minolta digital cameras.
RAW – Image Alchemy HSI Temporary Raw Bitmap
SRF – Sony DSC-F828 Raw Image File. CCD-Sensor RAW Data File from Sony DSC-F828 8 megapixel digital camera.
This hard drive was opened in our clean room for internal rework. In the process we found that the rubber crash stops attached to the VCM magnet were perished. They were oozing sticky rubber solution contaminating the drive internally. A word of warning to anyone who may still have one of these hard drives with critical data. I would recommend back up and replacement. This particular hard drive was from a synthesiser that had stopped working.
We have just received an 8GB USB pen with a broken connector. The customer started phoning around and was shocked by the costs he was given. He then called us and was pleased to hear that we only charged £90.00 if the rework was successful. This rework includes dismantling and repair of the USB Pen even when it appeared to be beyond repair.
These old slim Maxtor IDE 20 & 40GB hard drives are prone to start up problems. When they fail, it sounds like a mechanical problem as the heads cannot settle and make a clicking noise. They also do not show up correctly in a computer bios. This generation of Maxtor disks are known for firmware corruption, which is usually the fault.
We have just received one in for data recovery with the usual failure. With our past experience we have been able to overcome the problem without having to open up the drive in our cleanroom.
If you have a failed Hitachi hard drive, you may be interested in our Hitachi Data Recovery Services. We have been receiving Hitachi HTS5450 hard drives for data recovery since 2010. The majority of them appear to show a similar failing symptom, resulting in access to the data becoming more and more difficult.
After experience recovering several of these hard drives we have discovered that the problem appears to be trouble reading from the disc media. This may initially have been caused by the internal read and write heads writing bad data or the disc media itself suffering some mis-alignment or deteriorated magnetic coating.
Whatever the cause, the rework to overcome this can be a slow and very deliberate process. Anyone with one of these hard drives should make sure to back up regularly and any signs of slow or difficult access, you may want to think about replacing the drive.
If you have a failing 5450 drive, then it is important that you don’t try to fix or repair the drive in any way. It will make things much worse. First try to copy off important files. If that doesn’t work then it may already need a professional recovery process.
Seagate FDE hard drives encrypt the data automatically as it is read and written to the drive. As you save data to the drive it is encrypted immediately and can only be accessed when you input your user name and password. The drive will then be temporarily unlocked and allow the operating system to boot. Once the drive is powered off, it will be automatically locked again.
We have received several of these drives from customers who cannot access their data due to a hard drive failure. You may still be asked for the password, but the laptop will then fail to boot. This can be as a result of bad sectors or electronic problems. We can overcome virtually any type of failure and can return your data back to you decrypted and fully accessible on a new hard drive.