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I'm an awful wife and screwed up my husbands computer. HELP! UPDATE

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February 11, 2013 6:24:10 PM

Thank all of you so much or responding. I am so grateful for your time. This is their latest email response.

Hello Jennifer



It appears that perhaps the hard drive was upside down inside the unit so when coffee fell on top of it it quickly entered between the logic board and the HD's body.
There is a connector where the board and the read heads meet attached to the bottom of the hard drive (you can't see it when the board is on) which appears to be where the liquid entered. The area sort of ramps down making the situation worse.



I was so disappointed that I was unable to help you. I understand it had precious pictures of your son and also other very important documents. I Really Really wish I could have recovered the data for you.



Please call me A.S.A.P . Maybe I can get you a refund of your parts charge and provide you free return shipping. 888 526-4512

Harry
NDR


My son sloshed some coffee on my husbands army computer. No, I wasn't watching him, I was folding laundry. Yes, I take full responsibilty. And yes, my husband is irate.

I took it to a tech and he said there was 2 drops of coffee on the logic board of the HD. The HD would power up and spin, but shut down after 20 seconds. After researching data recovery places, I sent it to Nationwide data recovery. The reviews were pretty good. Only later did I see in some forums that they are pretty shady.



Of course it went exactly as the forums said it would. They charged a non-refundable $130 fee for new platters and donor parts. He said he gave it an 80% chance of recovery.



He later wrote that a small strip of coffee made its way into the power area? BUt he cleaned it, and the drive was powering up and spinning.



I get another email:

"The stack assembly exchange was completed a couple of days ago and the hard drive has been going through a bit by bit image copy of the whole drive. So far my techs are having no success with either the raw image scan or the 3 layered image scan. considering the heads are holding up I will attempt to fill the empty pockets of bad areas on the image collected so far with as many rouge digital fragments as possible and then try to decipher the results. Although I wish it was doing better, I'm an optimist. I will let you know right away with any changes in the results."





Today I get this:

Unfortunately after many attempts to create a complete bit by bit image of the hard drive the decipherment of the image collected has not produced any results.

My technicians have been unable to recover data from the drive you sent us for data recovery
because of the damage created on the platters from the previous head crash. For the last couple of days I've been trying to create as close to complete an image as possible without any positive results. I know how important this was to you and I wish I could have come through for you on this recovery. A lot was riding on this recovery. Maybe the future looks hopeful as technology improves. Don't throw away the hard drive. The future is bright for drives with platter damage.

Below are some issues encountered on this recovery.

1. It appears that the damage on the platters was too extensive (physical and magnetic) for a decipherable image..

2. The original read write heads at some point made contact with the platters damaging the surface of the platters and the read write heads.





I have no idea what this means. I did a google search for "head crash", and everything I read is saying a head crash is due to a fall. Can liquid cause a head crash? Should I even bother paying for the return, and should I pay for a second opinion?



THank you so much for your help. I feel horrible about what happened and am trying everything to get the data back. This could severely impact my husbands job. He did do a back up 2 weeks prior to the crash. But we still need some very important files that he didn't get a chance to back up.
February 11, 2013 6:30:11 PM

I would suggest getting the drive back and trying someone like Drive Savers or Ontrack data recovery.
Expensive yes, but I believe they can tell you upfront if any data can be salvaged.
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a b G Storage
February 11, 2013 6:44:18 PM

That sounds pretty shady cause unless you dropped the drive yourself there is no way a couple of coffee drops will impact that drive...
The only thing being is if the heads had a chance to "park" before you removed it and sent it to them.. or they might have jarred it themselves...
Parking is when the system is shut down and the heads are moved off the platter surface and locked...
If the info on there is worth it then follow deaths advice...it may well be worth the effort..
JQ
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a c 125 G Storage
February 11, 2013 6:46:55 PM

if i was a tech working on it the first thing i would have done is used some pcb cleaner on the hardd rive pcb and let it dry and see if the drive will spin up. if not i would have swapped out the pcb on the drive and then tried to see if there was any data that could be pulled from the drive. I dont see how the drive had a head crash or that they needed to replace parts on the drive.
unless there was damage in shipping. i would send them an email asking how a few drop of coffee on the logic board of the hard drive cause a head crash.
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February 11, 2013 6:49:18 PM

As soon as it happened, I cleaned up the coffee between the keys, and thats when the laptop shut down. I tried restarting it, and it just gave a black screen. I immediately un plugged it, removed the battery, and took it to a local pc repair shop. They removed the HD, cleaned it and the computer up. The computer works fine, but the HD kept shutting down. There is no way it was jarred. WHen I mailed the HD it was in a plastic case, bubble wrapped, and then packing peanuts. I paid $15 at fedex for the "special fragile" packaging, plus $90 to overnight it. I really don't see how it could have gotten physically damaged.
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February 11, 2013 6:56:21 PM

smorizio said:
if i was a tech working on it the first thing i would have done is used some pcb cleaner on the hardd rive pcb and let it dry and see if the drive will spin up. if not i would have swapped out the pcb on the drive and then tried to see if there was any data that could be pulled from the drive. I dont see how the drive had a head crash or that they needed to replace parts on the drive.
unless there was damage in shipping. i would send them an email asking how a few drop of coffee on the logic board of the hard drive cause a head crash.


Thank you. I just emailed them this.

"I'm sorry, I don't understand. Coffee caused a head crash? Can you please explain further in terms that I would understand?"


I doubt they will respond. But if they do, I will update.
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a c 288 G Storage
February 11, 2013 8:07:19 PM

A head crash occurs when the flying head makes contact with the spinning disc. If the contact is severe enough, the head will gouge the surface of the platter, destroying both itself and the data. The flying height is extremely low. I think that nowadays it amounts to about 0.5 microinches. That's less than the thickness of a fingerprint.

If any liquid got into the drive and onto the platter, then a head crash would be very likely. That said, I can't see how two drops of coffee on the logic board could cause such damage. Was the drive mounted logic board up? Did your son bump the laptop?

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February 11, 2013 8:15:06 PM

fzabkar said:
A head crash occurs when the flying head makes contact with the spinning disc. If the contact is severe enough, the head will gouge the surface of the platter, destroying both itself and the data. The flying height is extremely low. I think that nowadays it amounts to about 0.5 microinches. That's less than the thickness of a fingerprint.

If any liquid got into the drive and onto the platter, then a head crash would be very likely. That said, I can't see how two drops of coffee on the logic board could cause such damage. Was the drive mounted logic board up? Did your son bump the laptop?



Was the drive mounted logic board up? I have no idea what this means. Sorry. lol

My son did not bump the laptop. I saw him grab my coffee, and the slosh, I just couldn't get to him in time to stop it from happening.
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a c 288 G Storage
February 11, 2013 8:19:46 PM

The drive can be installed with its metal cover facing upwards or downwards. The logic board is on the other side. Coffee flows downwards ...
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February 11, 2013 8:25:54 PM

fzabkar said:
The drive can be installed with its metal cover facing upwards or downwards. The logic board is on the other side. Coffee flows downwards ...


I see. I really don't know. The local tech removed the HDD for me. He did say that it didn't seem as if any coffee actually entered the HDD. The only evidence of coffee was the two small drops on the logic board. No where else. He thought that replacing the logic board would work, but if the data was that important, to send it off, because there was a small chance of losing the data if it didn't work.
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a c 288 G Storage
February 11, 2013 8:37:46 PM

The "spin up and spin down" symptom usually indicates an internal fault, not a logic board fault.

Does the laptop still work?

Do you have the drive with you?

BTW, replacing the logic board, even between "identical" working drives, will usually not work in modern drives, particularly WD and Seagate HDDs. That's because each board is matched to its own drive.

BTW, you might like to read this:
http://www.ripoffreport.com/nationwide-data-reco/comput...

Sound familiar?
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February 11, 2013 8:57:54 PM

The drive is dead and all the data is gone. The end. If you put a new drive in the PC (get him an SSD to really say youre sorry) it will work so long as the rest of the computer is functional.
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February 11, 2013 8:58:04 PM

fzabkar said:
The "spin up and spin down" symptom usually indicates an internal fault, not a logic board fault.

Does the laptop still work?

Do you have the drive with you?

BTW, replacing the logic board, even between "identical" working drives, will usually not work in modern drives, particularly WD and Seagate HDDs. That's because each board is matched to its own drive.

BTW, you might like to read this:
http://www.ripoffreport.com/nationwide-data-reco/comput...

Sound familiar?



Yes the laptop works fine. There wasn't that much coffee spilled.

NO, I just received the last email today. I need to pay $17 through paypal for return shipment.

Nationwide said that a small strip of coffee was found on the power port, I think that is what they called it, but they cleaned it and the drive spins fine now.

Yes, I saw that after I sent the drive in. I should'e researched more and not just the yahoo reviews. But I was desperate and overnighted it through fedex the day after it happened. I feel so stupid.

How would I know if the drive was actually opened after I get the HDD back?
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February 11, 2013 9:01:46 PM

jkflipflop98 said:
The drive is dead and all the data is gone. The end. If you put a new drive in the PC (get him an SSD to really say youre sorry) it will work so long as the rest of the computer is functional.


:(  Thanks. I really didn't want to spend more money sending it in for a second opinion if I didn't have to. I'm going to have to do a lot more than get him a SSD to make up for this. Especially if he thinks I, and him by default, got ripped off as well.
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February 11, 2013 9:23:58 PM

JennB said:

1. I feel horrible about what happened and am trying everything to get the data back.
2. This could severely impact my husbands job.



I'm letting this elephant out of the closet.....sorry but I'll be blunt.

1. This is not entirely your fault, laptops are not a safe place to store any files
2. If this could impact his job, this laptop should not be touched by anyone, and should be backed up DAILY!

This takes 50/50 blame. Everyone who owns a laptop should realize that at any time, their laptop could just disappear. Theft, natural disaster, water damage, car accident, you name it and it could happen. Many of these things can simply be avoided with a desktop. However, when you need to work from a laptop, files should be backed up regularly. If you could lose your job, you backup daily, or twice daily.

This sentence goes separately: If your job depends on your laptop, no one else touches it. PERIOD. :non: 

As said before, send it off and attempt to get the data, otherwise buy him a SSD. Then, go buy a cheap laptop for around the house. Don't make that mistake again.
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a c 288 G Storage
February 11, 2013 9:26:03 PM

There is usually (always ?) at least one cover screw underneath the label. If there is no puncture in the label, then the drive will not have been opened.

When you get the drive back, post some detailed photos of both sides. Also let us know if it makes any horrible noises. If it does, then don't continue to power it up.

BTW, data recovery is a crapshoot. There is no official accreditation system. Unlike your plumber or mechanic, data recovery "professionals" don't need to undertake a course of any kind or go through an apprenticeship. They can just set up a fancy web site and hang out their shingle. The only thing that distinguishes many of them from amateurs is that they charge money for whatever it is that they do. In fact most are just ex-IT keyboard punchers or PC board jockeys.
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February 11, 2013 9:28:42 PM

By the way, send that drive to a reputable company, if they can retrieve your data, file a dispute and get your money back from Nationwide. It's worth a shot.

I recovered a drive from the hotspot of a large building fire. That data was saved. This doesn't make sense.
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a b G Storage
February 11, 2013 9:28:59 PM

This is his Army-issued laptop?

If so, you really shouldn't have taken it anywhere. His unit has a cadre of computer guys whose job it is to fix these things and wouldn't cost anything (maybe the cost of a drive - Army can be cheap jerks sometimes).

The lost files between his last backup and the incident can be recouped by asking his co-workers to resend important mails for that time. Probably some are on their sharepoint server or a network drive

Never release goverment computer items outside government channels.
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February 11, 2013 9:41:55 PM

J_E_D_70 said:
This is his Army-issued laptop?

If so, you really shouldn't have taken it anywhere. His unit has a cadre of computer guys whose job it is to fix these things and wouldn't cost anything (maybe the cost of a drive - Army can be cheap jerks sometimes).

The lost files between his last backup and the incident can be recouped by asking his co-workers to resend important mails for that time. Probably some are on their sharepoint server or a network drive

Never release goverment computer items outside government channels.



Nothing on it was sensitive. He has spent the past year preparing a 70 page presentation that he has to give to some big wigs the first week of march. It is pretty much make or break as far as career goes. The 2 weeks of missed back up isn't that bad. What we really need is some pdf notes. Apparently he makes all of his notes from his pdf research papers inside the pdf itself. He backed that up too. But we didn't know that the notes are EAs and the files needed to be saved as a "bundle" to preserve the notes. So the notes within the document didn't transfer to the back up external HDD along with the PDF. So 1 years worth of notes is gone. And he doesn't have time to redo the notes and the reading.

I talked to drivesavers and they think that nationwide caused the platter damage, if there is indeed damage. But I can send it in and if they can retreive the data, they will do so within 2 days for double the price, which would make the recovery start at $2k. Depending on when nationwide returns the drive to me, that may not even be quick enough.

I went with nationwide not only for the price, but because they promised a quicker turn around time.

I think I just fucked him over for the rest of his military career.
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February 11, 2013 9:47:56 PM

fzabkar said:
There is usually (always ?) at least one cover screw underneath the label. If there is no puncture in the label, then the drive will not have been opened.

When you get the drive back, post some detailed photos of both sides. Also let us know if it makes any horrible noises. If it does, then don't continue to power it up.

BTW, data recovery is a crapshoot. There is no official accreditation system. Unlike your plumber or mechanic, data recovery "professionals" don't need to undertake a course of any kind or go through an apprenticeship. They can just set up a fancy web site and hang out their shingle. The only thing that distinguishes many of them from amateurs is that they charge money for whatever it is that they do. In fact most are just ex-IT keyboard punchers or PC board jockeys.



I will certainly do that. I'm pretty sure Im screwed, but hopefully it will help others.

I can't thank you enough for your time. I am completely ignorant as far as computer hardware goes.
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February 11, 2013 9:49:03 PM

njxc500 said:
I'm letting this elephant out of the closet.....sorry but I'll be blunt.

1. This is not entirely your fault, laptops are not a safe place to store any files
2. If this could impact his job, this laptop should not be touched by anyone, and should be backed up DAILY!

This takes 50/50 blame. Everyone who owns a laptop should realize that at any time, their laptop could just disappear. Theft, natural disaster, water damage, car accident, you name it and it could happen. Many of these things can simply be avoided with a desktop. However, when you need to work from a laptop, files should be backed up regularly. If you could lose your job, you backup daily, or twice daily.

This sentence goes separately: If your job depends on your laptop, no one else touches it. PERIOD. :non: 

As said before, send it off and attempt to get the data, otherwise buy him a SSD. Then, go buy a cheap laptop for around the house. Don't make that mistake again.



Sorry, I meant to quote you earlier. Please see my previous post.
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a c 288 G Storage
February 11, 2013 9:50:41 PM

$2K is a ripoff.

The following company offers fixed price data recovery for US$800 plus parts:
http://myharddrivedied.com

The proprietor is Scott Moulton who is arguably the best known person in the DR business. In fact he teaches other data recovery professionals, and his course material forms the basis for many data recovery courses at various educational institutions.

BTW I have no association with him or his company. I would use the above figure as your upper limit when searching for quotes.
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February 11, 2013 9:51:33 PM

njxc500 said:
By the way, send that drive to a reputable company, if they can retrieve your data, file a dispute and get your money back from Nationwide. It's worth a shot.

I recovered a drive from the hotspot of a large building fire. That data was saved. This doesn't make sense.



It didn't make sense to me either. I'm going to send it off as soon as it arrives and hope it comes back in time. Thank you.
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February 11, 2013 9:53:18 PM

fzabkar said:
$2K is a ripoff.

The following company offers fixed price data recovery for US$800 plus parts:
http://myharddrivedied.com

The proprietor is Scott Moulton who is arguably the best known person in the DR business. In fact he teaches other data recovery professionals, and his course material forms the basis for many data recovery courses at various educational institutions.

BTW I have no association with him or his company. I would use the above figure as your upper limit when searching for quotes.



The 2k quote was for expediting. Thanks, I will call them and see if they have a rush option.
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a b G Storage
February 11, 2013 9:55:45 PM

Is this for professional military education? Like in-residence school? If he has the paper, notes or not, and explains what happened they should give him a pass or some extra time get the data back. Especially if you have a receipt for the dwta recovery to show that ur not BSing them.

It's not in the school's best interest to hose someone they've invested that kinda time in.
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February 11, 2013 10:28:15 PM

J_E_D_70 said:
Is this for professional military education? Like in-residence school? If he has the paper, notes or not, and explains what happened they should give him a pass or some extra time get the data back. Especially if you have a receipt for the dwta recovery to show that ur not BSing them.

It's not in the school's best interest to hose someone they've invested that kinda time in.



Yes, its for his master's degree. I guess it is like his thesis. No extensions, pretty much pass/fail.
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February 11, 2013 10:38:49 PM

This is not going to help you now but for next time as I think others have answered the recovery question. Tell your husband to take backups of is data. In fact its his fault if any data is lost. Hard drives die all the time, its not if, its when will it fail. You can burn my house down with my PC in it and I can still recover my data given I wasn't in my house at the time. If his data is so valuable that you are paying to have it recovered its valuable enough to backup properly. At minimum a backup to something that doesn't stay attached to the PC like an external hard drive you store in your master bedroom closet. At most a backup to the cloud or media that is stored somewhere other than your house.
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a b G Storage
February 11, 2013 10:44:43 PM

Something like that so important he should have backed up I only see this as his fault not yours. He should have taken the lead in getting this fixed since this was his notebook after all why did he leave it where this could happen? Why didn't he have a back-up of this data. Where is the hard copy or his notes the used to create the data? I think dad has to share most of the blame, kids will be kids you have to put things out of their reach and back-up critical data.

I've worked in the computer hardware field since the IBM XT days and I've never ever heard of a drop of coffee penetrating a sealed drive and causing a head crash. Its just not possible there is something very shady going on there.
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a c 288 G Storage
February 12, 2013 12:20:00 AM

Hard drives are actually vented to the atmosphere, albeit via very small openings. That said, I would agree that it would be very unlikely for a small amount of liquid to find its way in and damage the drive in this way.
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February 12, 2013 1:26:02 PM

I got an email response. Does this sound right?

Hello Jennifer



It appears that perhaps the hard drive was upside down inside the unit so when coffee fell on top of it it quickly entered between the logic board and the HD's body.
There is a connector where the board and the read heads meet attached to the bottom of the hard drive (you can't see it when the board is on) which appears to be where the liquid entered. The area sort of ramps down making the situation worse.



I was so disappointed that I was unable to help you. I understand it had precious pictures of your son and also other very important documents. I Really Really wish I could have recovered the data for you.



Please call me A.S.A.P . Maybe I can get you a refund of your parts charge and provide you free return shipping. 888 526-4512

Harry
NDR
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a c 288 G Storage
February 12, 2013 8:59:28 PM

The following article should help you visualise the HDD's component parts:
http://hddscan.com/doc/HDD_from_inside.html

The connector referred to by Nationwide is the "heads contacts" at the bottom right corner of the following photo:
http://en.rlab.ru/doc/images/hdd_main_parts/HDA1.jpg

Here it is in close-up:
http://en.rlab.ru/doc/images/hdd_main_parts/contacts.jp...

It is located underneath the "plate with heads connectors" at the bottom left:
http://en.rlab.ru/doc/images/hdd_main_parts/HDA.jpg

The platters are the discs to the right, and the heads are at the pointy end of the long arm (HSA).

Notice the breath hole at the top left:
http://en.rlab.ru/doc/images/hdd_main_parts/HDA1.jpg

... and the actual filter underneath:
http://en.rlab.ru/doc/images/hdd_main_parts/HDA5.jpg
http://en.rlab.ru/doc/images/hdd_main_parts/breath-filt...

BTW, if you are willing to pay $2K, then you should contact Kroll Ontrack. They are the recognised #1 data recovery company in the business.
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February 19, 2013 2:37:51 PM

Like the prior poster stated if its worth $2,000 then call Ontrack. They have a clean room and can pull the disk platters out of the drive(they look like old 33 records) to do the recovery.

This is a lesson of the value of backups, the hard way. Please learn from this and start taking backups, in Windows 7 the functionality is built right into the OS. For important papers I used to use a USB flash drive but today I sync them up in the cloud right after I make major updates.
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