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Transcend Tough Drive on the outside, problematic Seagate Slim on the inside

Interesting Case we had recently.

The customer got in touch by email and asked a friend to bring it in from the Scottish Borders as they were coming to Edinburgh.

The client informed us that the drive hadn’t been dropped, so given it was a ‘tough drive’, we were curious to know what happened?

On the first glance, the drive looks sturdy with round rubber casing which makes the impression of being fairly robust.

From the client’s experience, we verified that when connected to a computer using USB, nothing came up and the drive shows up as unallocated.  The client said it should contain many years of accumulated work and photos from business and personal life.

 

The client had already done some research, and through a friend, had discerned that the internal drive was a Seagate.  Transcend themselves don’t make internal drives, but use other manufacturers drives’ and then design a casing around it, and resell it.  Unfortunately for us, the ‘Tough Drive’,  marketed as having a “triple-stage anti-shock protection”, contained a standard Seagate Rosewood Slim drive.  These drives are not known to be more resilient than other brands. In fact, we have seen quite a few of these drives recently, and overall, the success of recovery, we have experienced, is hit and miss.

These “Rosewood” Seagate’s are known to be quite problematic with issues stemming from internal buggy software, and general quality issues with their internal heads and platters leading to failures.

 

Once we got the drive out of the external casing, we were able to hook it up to our Recovery hardware. Within our system, the behaviour was unusual.  After the process we use to ‘unlock’ the drive, (Seagate lock their drives to prevent access), we were then granted access to further functions for recovery.
We were then fully able to identify the drive and access the drive’s Service Area, of which we made a backup which is very important.  Strangely enough, despite having access to the Service Area, no User data was accessible.

After some more checks, we were able to isolate a bug in the drive firmware, ‘built-in drive software’, that caused the issue with access.    This bug is common on damaged drives, not limited to this brand, but especially on these Seagate models.

With our PC3000, we were able to make adjustments to clear the bug, and finally, gain access the user data portion of the drive.

We were still not out of the woods. Amazingly, this slim 9mm drive has two disk platters, and three read/write heads.  Our initial pass with our recovery hardware, allowed us to retrieve all the data from two of the three heads which comprised of almost 80% of the data.  We then targeted the remaining 20% under the last head which had some issues.  This head was ultimately changed with a donor drive which meant we were successful in retrieving all the data from the drive.

Once recovered we sent a copy on a fresh drive via special delivery to the customer for next day delivery.

 

 

The customer was delighted with the result.  There were vital data on the faulty drive that including plans for a trip abroad. We learnt later that the client had approached other companies for data recovery but was either presented with very high quotes, or refusals to even look at it without an upfront fee.  We are happy that we could help in this case, but it could also have been beyond recovery, as sadly not every case is successful, especially with damaged surfaces.

Also, in this case, don’t trust what it says in the box.  Even marketed as a more durable drive, it doesn’t mean it is, especially if the inside is just a standard hard drive.

Most importantly, remember to save your data in at least 2 places. Otherwise, you don’t have a backup.

The Recovery cost in this case was £450+VAT .

If you have data from a drive that is not accessible or is faulty, please get in touch using the quick contact form, or going to our contact page.

UPDATE

We got a lovely email back from the customer to say thank you.  We asked for their permission to allow us to put it online: