Thursday, October 18, 2007

Utah Data Recovery

About three years ago (so pre-Mozy and definitely pre-Mac Mozy) my brother had his powerbook hard disk die. As in, not just mostly dead -- it would not power up. It had a lot of stuff on it that he didn't want to lose, but he felt like the usual suspects who charge $1k to $2k for data recovery were a rip off. So he hung onto the disk in case a cheaper option came along.

Then just recently when I saw some people on a local linux group mailing list recommend utah data rescue I suggested to my brother that he give it a try. UTDR starts at "only" $300.

UTDR did indeed recover the data, although they charged $100 extra for this one. Mac fee? Tricky hw problem? I don't know. But it was still a lot cheaper than the other companies I googled for fixing a physically dead drive. (As opposed to a corrupt partition table or something where the hardware itself was okay.) At least, the ones that actually give you a price up front rather than hiding behind "request a quote!"


Anonymous said...

$400?! That's cheap. They probably just did a PCB swap and managed to get your drive up and running again. Good to hear you got your data back.

Stephen Thorne said...

Depending on the model, replacing the harddrive in a powerbook requires disassembling basically the entire computer. It's at least an hours work to properly disassemble, and then reassemble the machine, and that's just to replace the drive - let alone data recovery.

Anonymous said...


I am an Apple portables tech. It does not take at least an hour to disassemble and re-assemble a powerbook. It takes roughly 20 minutes. All you need to do - in any model - 12" 867Mhz to 17" 1.67Ghz DL - is remove the screws around hte bottom case to release the top case. Then you just take the drive out and put the new one in. Really simple. In fact, it would still be the most simple take apart for a hard drive, but the macbook is now easier.

What takes a while is formatting, verifying and restoring the drive to an OS. That could take about 30 - 45 minutes.

Unknown said...

Uggg, I am a data recovery technician and I absolutely hate having to touch anything in the Modern Mac lineup. Once you research the model you are working to determine which are the correct screws to "only remove the hard drive", fabricate a special disassembly tool to insert into the obscure crack to disengage the case brackets, peel back the "TV-Dinner" style aluminum foil with its incredibly adhesive properties without tearing it, unstick the micron thick PCB ribbon cables without breaking them in order to access what on 90% of PC based laptops is a quick remove tray to get the hard drive out. Then begins the different levels of diagnosing the nature of the actual failure. here is a shortlist of the categories: file based; unpurged write cache due to improper powerdown, vibration induced errors, deleted files, deleted partitions, bad software updates, reformatting, errant utilities like defrag or AV, virus activity, encrypted files and forgotten passwords, etc. Hardrive based; corrupted firmware, failed electronics package, internal calibration failure, impact damage, head crash, errored out S.M.A.R.T. drive deactivation, head actuator falure, motor failure, siezed bearings, overheating, foriegn objects, liquids, intermittant speeds, head sticking, harmonic vibration, excessive power either drain or supply.

Once you have isolated the failure you must use the proper recovery technique the recover the data. Some is software based, some of it requires temporarily repairing the failed drive. A simple PC board replacement isn't always so simple. There are a wide array of manufacturers and models and different firmware versions in the same models which have to be flashed to the board IF you can locate a replacement and must purchase. We have a vast array of diagnostic replacement parts to swap out but still have to locate and buy new parts (which are sometimes functional old parts)every day. So yes $400 is cheap and you must have had a simple to recover situation. And Yes, Mac products do take longer than PC products. I am having nightmares about the first "Air" that we will need to do a recovery job on. (shudder)