Data Recovery for desktop and laptop hard drives
- First choice: Store data on network filesystems that TIG maintains and backs up nightly. Then, email email@example.com to request a restore from backup.
- Second choice: Store data on local disk, then back it up yourself, regularly testing and verifying that data can be restored as expected.
- Oh, crap: ...yeah, that's what brought you to this page. If you hear clicking or don't even see the hard disk appear, that points to physical problems.
- TIG has a couple SATA-to-USB converter kits available for checkout from 32-276. These allow standard desktop/laptop hard drives, once extracted from their laptop or desktop chassis, to be mounted externally on a different computer via (slow) USB connection. This is best for cases when the original computer has non-hard-disk-related faults, or is no longer available.
- Depending on the circumstances, TIG staffmembers in 32-276 can attempt to mount or recover data from a hard disk using an eSATA dock that remains in our offices. This is a "best effort" service using standard unix tools, with no guarantees, even that our efforts won't make further recovery more difficult.
In May 2010, the csail-related mailing list
had a discussion of hard drive data recovery vendors, starting with this question
. Brief summary:
- To maximize success with a professional lab, remove power as soon as it's evident that the problem is a physical one, and stop trying to read it yourself [or with TIG's assistance]. OTOH, professional labs are expensive (hundreds to thousands of dollars)
- New England Data Recovery comes recommended by a former TIG sysadmin
- Ontrack Data Recovery does business by mail/data access online, and comes recommended by a CSAIL grad student.
 This page assumes the failing disk is a spinning hard disk. Solid State Disks have different failure modes and usually do not provide any warning signs between "no sign of trouble" and "zero bytes can be read".
 smartmontools, mount, dd, dd_rescue, ntfsclone, ...
- 30 May 2012