Data Recovery & Backup

Archived Responses: 

Who you want to automate regular back-ups

Nov 2006

I have become an evangelist for computer back-up systems. Until 6 weeks ago I (very ignorantly) didn't even know that a ''crash'' could be more than an annoyance, and I backed up on CD's whenever I got around to it, sometimes regularly, and sometimes, um, not so regularly at all.

Then, my less-than-a-year-old computer totally and completely crashed, and I learned that any hard drive, of any age, on any type or brand of computer, can crash suddenly any time. I also realized that I hadn't done a back-up for 6 months.

The computer is being replaced under warranty, but the cost of data recovery was on me, as was the cost of my business program specialist to try to restore corrupted files, and the cost of my bookkeeper to re-enter the data from the last 6 months (the crash was so bad that the unbacked-up files were unrestorable even by the company that makes the software).

I have already spent about 20 hours sorting through thousands of recovered data files (all file names were lost, they have only numbers, and are randomly grouped) and I'm maybe halfway through them. It's been a complete, and an expensive, nightmare.

I'm sure that many of you already knew all this and already have good back-up systems in place, but I've been surprised how many of my friends, including some like me with small businesses, were as casual about backing up as I was.

I now have an external hard drive programmed to do daily back-ups, and am preaching the 'back-up your data gospel'! Ignorance Is Not Bliss

Lost 6 months of baby photos when computer crashed

March 2005

I crashed my old Window's based computer and am hoping I can get some of the data back. Can anyone recommend a service? We lost six months of baby photos and want them back! Thanks. Laura

We lost all the photos from the first week of our twins' lives (though it was a corrupted memory card, not a computer crash that caused it). We sent it to DriveSavers ( They recovered all the photos from the card, plus old photos that we'd already deleted! The service wasn't cheap--$250 or something--but we were desperate, and it was worth it. I'm pretty sure they refund you everything if they can't recover your data. Also, they're in Novato, so turnaround is quick. Genevieve
Think there is a link on the Berkeley webpage to a recovery company called Data Recovery Group, in San Leandro, and their number is 888 462 3282. I had a similar problem (accidentally reformatted my hard drive). They gave me a rough cost estimate of $1000. The data and pictures I lost weren't that valuable so I tried to go it on my own. Thus, I went to C-Net's and typed in data recovery. From there you could see many different programs that would recover data. You could run trials on most of these. Some trial runs were not very helpful since they would only pull up files of a smaller size and I too was looking for lost pictures. I also found that most of these programs are not user friendly. Files would be located but stored under weird names and hard to search through to find what you were looking for. So, if they could find the data it was going to take a ton of time and be hard to find the specific files you are searching for. I bought full versions of a couple of programs for $50 - $75 each after trying them out and had a couple of false attempts. I finally found one program that worked pretty well for me called GetDataBack Recovery 2.3.1 ( I don't think it recovered all my photos but it recovered most of them.

Although this was cumbersome this solution worked for me since the data was not critical. I should also note that I had to buy a hard drive so that the recovered files could be placed on a separate drive. Thus, the total cost to me was probably $300 for this process. Jennifer

Hi, there, I lost all the pictures of my newborn baby boy when my computer crash. I could not even turn it on! All my life was in that hard drive and I had to recover the data. Well... I was quoted over $1k to get this done. So... I sent my hard drive to be fixed in Brazil (it helps that I am Brazilian but they speak perfect English). I was amazed on how professional and responsive they were. They were able to recover ALL the data and it did not cost me even $200.00 dollars. I would be glad to give you more details if you are interested, just email me. Meanwhile, you can check their website (in portuguese).

Data recovery for failed hard drive

Oct 2004

Hello everyone, I am hoping that someone out there can help me out on this. My computer broke down and I lost all the pictures of my 3-month- old baby boy. Including the ones from his birth! That's right, I didn't have a backup and now they are gone! Please help! All my contacts in Outlook (years of friends, family, work contacts) are gone! I am so crushed you can't imagine. But I surely learned my lesson. We contacted some data recovery firms but learned that the recovery of the data costs around $1500.00. I don't think I can afford that. So I am hoping that someone out there has an affordable, reliable and responsible source to recover this data . Any advice or recommendation is welcome at this point. Thanks so much from this bummed mom.

Before you go to the trouble of a remote repair company, you might try doing it yourself. If your harddrive isn't physically dead (ie making scratching or grinding sounds), try software by to see if you can rebuild index files needed to read your drive. Corruption of these indexes or loss of them because of a local sector failure might be your issue. Runtimes products are good and pretty easy to use and you only pay if you can recover your data. If it is making grinding or other ugly noises do NOT keep trying to boot or fix it, you will only damage your data more. Good Luck!
We just had a horrible incident where we neglected to transfer our digital photos from one computer to another, then REFORMATTED the old computer. Arrgh. Completely panicked, we called Jaime Florence of MicroForensics and he was able to recover a good percentage of photos from our hard drive and digital camera flash memory cards. His phone is (415) 482-9952 (Direct); Mobile (415) 297-9958; E-Mail: jaime AT Web Site We were very pleased. Good luck! Star

I lost everything on my hard drive!

April 2002

HELP! I lost everything on my hard drive by following (to the letter!) the instructions of a Dell Technical Support technician. Ironically, I had called Dell because I was having trouble backing up data from my hard drive to diskettes. Anyway, Dell has offered me $100, an apology and an 800 number for a data recovery company that can (maybe) recover what I lost for $1,200 - $1,800. This seems totally inadequate to me in terms of recompense. Does anyone out there have experience with this type of computer disaster? Should I try to get Dell to cover the cost of data recovery? Is there another company or individual that someone can recommend that might be able to do this more cheaply? Most of what I lost is in Excel and Word and I have not been using my computer since this happened a few days ago (I'm sending this e-mail from someone else's computer). Thanks in advance for any advice! jennifer

I am really sorry about your hard drive crash. I wanted to suggest that you give Steve Edlen of Berkeley Backup, 510-848-5990, a call before you spend over $1000 at a data recovery place. I'm not sure he'll be able to help you, but he is very honest and very reasonably priced, so he won't waste either your time or money. Unfortunately, I didn't find out about Steve until after I'd spent $1000 on data recovery five years ago, so I don't have firsthand data recovery experience with him, but I've been very pleased when I've used him for general systems setup and similar work, and he was highly recommended to me. Good luck. Norma
Whether you can get your data recovered or not depends a lot on what the Dell technician did. Given their response, I'd guess that they think he/she was at fault and there is a good chance that you can recover your data. I can tell you for certain that you will in all likelihood not get any more money from them (I'm surprised you got any money at all). If you read the warranty they are very clear that they are not responsible for any lost data. You might also confirm with the folks at Dell that your warranty won't in anyway be affected by you attempting data recovery, since it expressly forbids folks from opening the harddrive. I'm sure they'll extend it but you should get this in writing)

That being said, usually you can get an evaluation from a data recovery service for a fixed fee, which can then be applied to the repair if they think it can be done. I've worked with a few vendors on this, and the one easiest to use from the East Bay is the Data Recovery Group in San Leandro. Their Website is:

Most of the time, folks get an evaluation and decide not to go ahead with the recovery effort because it is so expensive, especially on the very large drives that come standard with most PC's. The only times I've seen folks go through with it are when they aren't personally footing the bill. All of this is said as someone who has been dealing with harddrive failures in some form or another professionally for more than fifteen years. As always, the best defense against hardware failure is good backups. (and off site backups, if you can). Myriam