Wet RoseI have been meaning to sort out a complete backup regime for a while now. Unfortunately every attempt I make finds something lacking in the program I trial…

This would force me to find another program to try out, which takes time. After a while I found it hard to find the time to find exactly what I needed as there was always something more important to do.

Then the other week the worst happened, my hard disk failed…

I had some of the stuff backed up, but how much? I really couldn’t tell. There are collections of different bits of my data scattered here and there, some on my iMac, some on my little HP server even some on DVD’s—from when I used to use them for my weekly backup. After a while my requirements spiralled out of control and the 4.7GB on a DVD wouldn’t even scratch the surface…

I know I haven’t done a complete backup in probably a year. My heart sank…

It Won’t Happen To Me

I had a feeling beforehand that something was up with the disk. I even mentioned to a colleague that I thought my disk might be failing as it was starting to become a bit sluggish.

So what did I do? Absolutely nothing. After all ‘It Won’t Happen To Me.’

Once the worst had happened I tried everything, including connecting the device to another computer, but the hard disk could not even be seen by the BIOS so there was absolutely no way for me to get at my data…

As the failed disk had my business accounts on it, amongst many other important files, I had no real choice but to try and recover the data. I had most of it backed up but I couldn’t afford to have gaps…

This is something I have never had to do before. I have had hard disks fail in the past but I always had moved my data to a new machine beforehand or at least copied off to another disk.

As computers have become more powerful the need to update frequently is no longer a requirement. I have had my current computer for a few years now, probably the longest I have ever stuck to one machine.

Just to make things worse I recently redecorated my office and never really got around to setting my server back up again. The only thing I really use it for nowadays is for storing files so I was planning on removing the need for it shortly by moving my storage to the cloud. So I thought ‘What would be the harm in leaving it off for a while…’

To make sure I had the data in more than one place I was still manually copying data between my iMac and my PC, which was running Windows Vista at the time. So I didn’t feel too concerned…

Then I updated my iMac to OS X Lion as soon as it was released, only to find that it doesn’t play well with Windows Vista… I was struggling to copy files backwards and forwards between the two machines due to some very strange errors with file sharing on the Mac. (Typically, now that I have moved to Windows 7 I no longer get any issues…)

Looking back it was a perfect storm of issues so of course that means the disk had to fail…

Recovering The Data

So how do you go about recovering the data from a failed hard disk? I just did a Google to see what I came up with.

I was surprise by the number of companies out there offering a recovery service but then when I saw some of the prices I soon saw why…

To make sure I knew what sort of price to expect I filled in quite a few forms asking for an estimate. They all came back in the same ballpark of up to around £400. Some gave a fixed price some gave a range of possible values.

I had decided that this was something I had to do though so I just chose one. After doing a bit of research on my particular issue it seemed to be internal to the software of the drive rather than a mechanical error. I even found a way to fix it but this involved a soldering iron so I instantly decided against that as I didn’t want to fry the disk inadvertently…

I presumed this would be a fairly simple fix as compared to opening the hard disk in a protected environment and replacing internal parts of the drive. So simply based on their websites and speed and professionalism of responses and of course the all important price I chose a company called Fields Data Recovery. They gave me a price range based on the complexity of the fix and the bottom end seemed very attractive so I jumped…

It ended up that they considered the problem to be at the other end of their price range, even though the problem was as I thought. This was still only slightly more than the other fixed price offers so I was a little disappointed but at least I was going to get my data back. In a few days I got a loaned hard disk back through the post with all of my files on it, well reported as 95% but I cannot find anything missing, for me to copy off and then send back to them.

I was going to provide a link but as the price was at the high end I wasn’t too sure if I should be recommending them to others. Especially as this is not an area I know very well…

As I couldn’t remember the website I did a quick google for the name of the company and the majority of the results were complaints and the word scam seemed to be used a lot…

All I can say is that everything went pretty smoothly for me. I got my data back pretty quickly, so, even though it cost me a fair amount, I have no complaints.

I just have to view this as a cost of not performing proper backups…

Lesson learnt…

How To Stop This From Happening Again

The next step is to make sure that I have a proper backup system in place to stop this from happening again. I am looking into this at the moment and I will post again when I am happy that I have this sorted to my satisfaction.

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