Friday, September 7, 2012

Horrible News from Apple's "Genius Bar"!

I know that some of you are techies. Anyone know anything about data retrieval? Here's the situation.

Last night, I was working on my laptop, when the little "Apple Wheel" came on, and the computer stopped responding. After another few minutes, it shut down on its own, and it wouldn't start back up. I did the troubleshooting from Apple's website, but nothing worked. Today, I took my laptop to Apple's "Genius Bar." After running several diagnostics, they said that my hard drive is shot and would need to be replaced. (I learned last year that the LEMON laptop Apple sold me tends to run a bit hotter than others, and that it therefore slowly burns up components. Unfortunately, I only learned this after it burned up my hard drive last year, and I had to pay to have it replaced. My laptop took about a year to burn up the new hard drive.)

So here are the questions:

(1) Is my data still on the hard drive, even though the hard drive doesn't work and won't start up?

(2) If the data is still on the hard drive, is it retrievable?

(3) If it's retrievable, what's the cheapest way to retrieve it? My most recent back-up was a couple of months ago. I can always redo most of the work I've done since then (Qur'an commentary, scripts for a video series I haven't recorded yet, etc.), but some of the material (e.g. video footage) cannot be replaced, and I'd rather not have to rewrite anything I've already written, since this would be a waste of time. (In case anyone is wondering what I mean by "Qur'an commentary," Sam Shamoun and I have been working on a "Study Qur'an." It's similar in format to a standard "Study Bible," but includes a revised text of Palmer's translation of the Qur'an, complete with commentary, cross-references, Surah introductions, outlines, charts, etc., by Sam and me.)

Any thoughts? (Note: Please don't answer the questions unless you're fairly sure that you're correct on the technical details!)


aaron said...

David i recommend you get a laptop cooler

bobby said...

Hi David

Glad to hear you've backed up two months ago, at least.

As to whether you can recover the data yourself, it depends on what type of hard drive failure it is. Here's a sample data recovery pricelist of a computer store that handles repairs.

-Deleted files, damaged file system etc. $80 - $240
-Bad sectors $550
-Firmware $670
-Head swap, seized spindle, mechanical failure $1000

Assuming it's not a simple filesystem problem, and repair procedures have not fixed the problem then the only recovery you would be able to do is in the case of the first one (or even two). This involves removing the drive and connecting it to another computer as a second drive. If it shows up after MacOS startup, the drive is still usable, and you can then copy as much data as you can from it. But, expect some files to be corrupted due to being written on the damaged part of the drive.

Perhaps on the Mac you can also boot from the MacOS CD, which would allow you the functionality to copy the files from the drive to a pen drive or an external drive, for example.

More catastrophic failures require expert help, which is very expensive. This is generally viable only for people with really precious data.

Radical Moderate said...

Yeah what Bobby said.

However I would disagree on the prices if your going to do it yourself.

First thing is the drive spinning is it making any "CLICKING" noises? If it is then your going to have to send it to someone to replace the heads etc...

If it is spinning and not making any clicking sounds you will need a external USB connector you can get them online for under 20 dollars or if you need it right away under 50 bucks at a local computer store.

If it is just corrupt OS files then your in luck only the cost of the external USB HD Connector.

Question is the drive encrypted? If so then disregard this post.

If not and the drive is still spinning and is recognized as a second drive there are over the counter software apps that can retrieve corrupt data. you can download and preview for free to see if the files you need are recoverable and the Pay after you verify.

Unknown said...

Saw your post at Before It's News....sorry to hear about your hard drive.

Yes, most likely you can recover the data from your hard drive. It really depends on how hard you want to work on this and the value of the data you can't recover from the back up.

Before you go to any extremes, you should let your computer cool off and see if it can come back to life. If it does, plus in a USB or firewire drive and back up as much of your data before it dies again. If it seems to be completely dead, you should try to boot from the boot DVD and get the computer back to life.

Once you're back to life, you'll need to try to mount the hard drive (find a web site with instructions to do this). Once you've done that, quickly back the important files up off your drive.

If that doesn't work, you'll need to take it to a data recovery service. It'll cost several hundred $$ at least, so it might not be worth it.

Brian said...

Yes your data should still be there. It appears that the electronics on the drive were damaged, but the physical platters should not be damaged unless it had a head crash. To retrieve the data you would need a drive exactly like yours & swap the electronic boards. Boot your drive on a working machine & get your data. This is not hard to do & I have done it many times! The 2nd ting I would recommend is to stay away from Apple & get a real computer :P

911 Infidel said...

I've recovered lost data as part of my last job. I've used recovery software, and other techniques on Windows sytems. I've also hired Data Recovery Firms who charged 100.00 per gig of data.

You can do a lot of different things to get your data back. As long as the hard drive isn't making clicking sounds it is likely healthy and recoverable.

911 Infidel said...

As long as your hard drive isn't making clicking sounds, you can recover your data. You can slave it off to a MAC desktop. You can use recovery software Remosoftware, some swear by spinrite. I have actually done data recovery in my old job...but only in Windows. I also had to hire a pro who charged 100.00 per gig from a damaged hard drive.

Radical Moderate said...


I would say to take your HD and swap it into another MAC and boot it up.

However after watching this video


I will have to say if you are able to get your HD out, then get a PC laptop with the external USB connector and throw away the MAC.

I can not believe how involved it is to remove a HD. ON a PC laptop its ONE SCREW and it slides right out.

I'm mortified that Apple came up with such a horrid design.

reconnaissance said...

Try giving it a really good kick maybe that will bring it back to its senses.

Hopefully. laughing out loud.

911 Infidel said...

I have a USB/IDE device at home called "Easy IDE" that allows me to slave off a laptop HD to a Desktop and recover the data from the laptop HD. Also has an USB connection. Its an old version. I'm sure you could find a newer one. Its real simple to use.

911 Infidel said...

One other thing. Just because a hard drive won't boot, doesn't mean the HD itself is necessarily dead or that the data is lost.

WhatsUpDoc said...

I had a hard drive that did not start on a PC. I installed a new drive and used the other drive as a slave and retrieved my data. I am not sure about laptop drives.

simple_truth said...

You can also try to boot off a live Linux CD and see if you can see the files. If you can, then you are in luck and can retrieve the files and transfer them to an external hard drive.

Whatever you do, never write any more data to that hard disk because you will began to erase what's already there. Once you erase the data, it is practically impossible to get it back without paying up the nose to a professional.

Rafik Responde ao Isla said...

Hi David,
I have a MAC and had the same problem years ago.
Most of the tips above are good, but most of them are good for Windows.

You should start with the CHEAPEST way
Buy a DATA RESCUE 3 for MAC = 99U$

As far as I know, it doesnt recover VIDEOS very well. They might have improved it. I have the Rescue 2.

Blessings brother and we pray for a total recovery.

Skýwæłker»» said...

It would be more helpful if you can provide photos of Damaged hard drive, If the disk in hard drive is undamaged, then you can recover all data, even other parts of hard drive are damaged. If the disk in hard drive damaged then its totally hopeless situation.

In the manufacturing companies, faulty parts occur,, because the manufacturer dont check all drives it manufacture, they check only few in 10,000 items, this type quality system called as SIX SIGMA, as per TPC(Total Product Control) quality system.

In electronic products, i always prefer Japanese, i buy Made in Japan. Their quality system is very high, n cant match to others.

Pythag said...


What about the greater jihad? -- you only covered the lesser form. Sufism? You seem to be white washing Islam.

Radical Moderate said...

David Wood

I think with all the posts it should be clear that yes data is recoverable from a failed HD.

If the drive is still spinning and not making any loud clicking noises you should be good to go.

The question is time and effort and cost.

I have been playing around with a tool kit called UBUNTU-RECOVERY-REMIX.

It has lots of cool features. It boots from a USB drive and can read your internal drive, including MAC drives. It can recover directly or when you get a new HD you can image your old one and save it to the new Hard drive before you install it.

You can recreate partitions, even recover over 80 file types from Cell phones and camera's.

But there are a few caveats.

First Although I was able to create a boot able USB image under Windows, from what I read the process might be a little bit trickier for a MAC.

Second its straight up command line no GUI interface.

Anyway I can write you up a howto on how to use this tool if you have not gone with any other options.

Let me know.

I have successfully recovered images and files deleted on my cell phone from several months ago.

SO the tool does work.

wreker said...

Get yourself a USB to SATA drive dock. put your old drive in the dock and see if you can read it after you plug it in to your computer.
If you can read it, great, copy your data off the drive.
But if you cannot read it easily, don't try anything esoteric and risk making a bad but recoverable situation worse. Instead find a reputable data recovery expert and pony up ;)
You can call several of them and describe the situation and they'll give you estimates.
I think your data and your efforts are worth it, so I'll pony up a hundred bucks towards recovery if it helps.

Luke Windborn said...

Hi David,

When do you plan on publishing this Study Qur'an? Sounds great!

Luke Windborn said...

Hi David, when will this Study Qur'an and commentary be out?

Tomtribute said...

Dear all,
I use Macs, but Drobo helps me sleep a little better:

God bless,

BruceHinton said...

All the above are good geeky advice for HDDS with boot sector problems, but if you truly have a dead drive, (no spin), there is only one place to go.


Not cheap but worth it if your material is important to you!

BTW, 500Gb SSDs are now $405.00, and you externally clone it and put it in place of your current. Lots of folks can do that.

Rotts o' ruck,
Bruce Hinton