Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Channeling Your Inner Packrat For Data Recovery

Six hard disk drives with cases opened showing...Image via Wikipedia

Beginning back in 1982 when I started fixing computers, I developed a reluctance to throw perfectly good, but used parts in the trash. This was especially true with anything connected to data storage. Of course, everything ages out to the point where the likelihood of ever seeing something like a 5.25 floppy again become pretty minuscule.

On many occasions, digging through my "salvage" bin meant the difference between recovering the data on a hard drive or zip disk and never seeing that data again.

Zip drives. Photo by :en:User:Hephaestos Feb.Image via Wikipedia

While everyone has a limit on storage space, at least I do in my forensic lab, there are things that I routinely try to hold on to, "just in case".

Exotic SCSI controllers, odd media readers like Zip drives, old tape drives and of course, good but aged hard drives.

When you get a hard drive in that will not spin up, chances are it is an electrical problem rather than a mechanical problem. If you can locate an identical hard drive with working electronics, you can quickly swap out the PC board on the drive and many times, get the drive working again.

The large drive is a 5.25" full-height 11...Image via Wikipedia

When you get in a drive that has an obvious mechanical problem, i.e. the bearings are screaming when it spins up, there is no reason not to retain the drive for the electronics.

And when you can't find that old wide SCSI controller or tape drive in your salvage area, you can certainly find computer stores that carry old parts that will be happy to sell you their "junk".

In data recovery, one man's junk is truly another man's treasure.

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