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It could be someone down the block or from the Bloc

How to recover data from your hard drive that’s spent three weeks on the ocean floor

ACE Data Recovery

1 Aug 2016


When his yacht reached the open ocean the businessman pulled out his laptop and sat down to work on his important documents.

After a long period of serious concentration he stood up to stretch, just as the stern of his yacht dropped into the valley of a deeper-than-average swell. The sudden unexpected pitch of the deck caused him to lose his balance. As he instinctively snatched at the top rail to keep from falling, his laptop tumbled overboard and quickly sank to the sea floor below.

Lacking diving equipment and skill, the businessman had no choice but to note his GPS coordinates and return to harbor.

His laptop sat at the bottom of the sea for three weeks, until he found a diving company willing to search for such a tiny object in the vast ocean. Incredibly, the divers found it.

Time continued to pass as he pleaded with data retrieval companies to recover the only copy of his vital information.

Each of them examined the drive exterior, asked him the same questions, and upon learning the drive had sat at depth under salt water, said they could not help him.

“I think it was a good thing the others didn’t try, because it’s likely they would have prevented us from retrieving anything,” said Igor Samuilik, Senior Data Recovery Engineer at ACE Data Recovery. “We design and build our own recovery hardware. Everybody else is capped by the capabilities of the commercially available hardware they buy. We’re not. And so we got his data back.”

Over the 35 years ACE engineers have been retrieving data, they have developed unique proprietary hardware and software for recovering data from the spinning platters of computer hard drives. Indeed, the company can recover data from every storage media type – hard disk, tape, flash drive, RAID servers, solid state drive, and even floppy drive.
The company provides its services because – like the businessman on his yacht – most users remain unconcerned about securely backing up their data until it’s too late.

“When the others fail we get it,” said Yevgeniy Tolkunov, CTO. “While some user-installed recovery software has become popular recently, few people know that you can damage your media to the point at which data is not recoverable at all. We can even recover data from slightly damaged platters. If you try that software at home or work and your hard drive platters are damaged, your data will become unrecoverable.”

If you’re unable to read from or write to a hard drive, first get it to ACE Data Recovery, using any available means. Once it’s there, ACE engineers perform a no-cost diagnosis.

“The diagnosis tells you…
1.    That we can get the data
2.    The primary cause of failure, and
3.    The cost of retrieval.

“Once you give approval it’s up to us – we don’t get paid until we deliver your data to you,” said Charles Walker, CEO. “We’re pretty confident we can do that, because we have the best recovery engineers in the business.”

ACE Data Recovery engineers are selected from the very best candidates around the world. Each has at minimum a computer engineering degree. They work in the four data recovery labs ACE operates in the USA, each of which has class 100 clean rooms.

It also operates 25 data recovery service centers across the USA, and six more in Canada. For customers not close to those locations, certified partners in the USA are ready to help recover data from compromised storage media.

To maintain the integrity of your data, engineers “capture an image” of the data on your drive, and place that image on another drive, called – logically enough – the image drive. Then they go to work on recovering data from the image drive, using expertise that ACE has developed over three and a half decades of recovering lost and corrupted data. 

Once your data is recovered, the Quality Assurance department performs a quality control check, to ensure your data is there for you to see and use.

“We keep the image drive for five business days in case there are any issues,” Samuilik said.  “After that we securely erase data from the image drive.”

Customers receive their recovered data on media provided by ACE. The media depends on the data, and is usually either an external drive or flash drive. “We work with the client,” Tolkunov said. “We can send their data to them via FTP or one of the cloud services if that’s what they want.”

Some customers, in a hurry or far from an ACE facility or unable to ship a server, ask if their data is remotely recoverable.

“Whenever a customer wants data recovered from a logically corrupted SAN, NAS, RAID, server application, or Virtual Machine, we first find out what their requirements are. Then we remotely connect to perform a full diagnostic, and prepare quote” said Samuilik. “If it is a logical issue we use our own tools to recover the data. Physically damaged drives must go to one of our facilities.”