Our hardware-based data recovery tools are much more complex than consumer-level software applications like SpinRite, Data Rescue, GetDataBack, R-Studio, Stellar Phoenix, Easeus, and OnTrack.
This video details the hardware and software tools we use for data recovery:
Our cutting-edge tools work by communicating with the bare hard drive directly, without the need for an operating system (or BIOS) to act as the hard drive’s “interpreter.” This is just one of the major differences between software data recovery applications and the professional hardware data recovery tools we use. Another important difference is the years of research, studying, and real-world practice required to fully achieve their potential.
Our arsenal of hardware-based tools includes products from Ace Laboratory, Deepspar Data Recovery Systems, Atola Technology, Rusolut, Soft Center/Flash Extractor, HDDSurgery, Multi-com, SalvationDATA Technology, and YEC; the world leaders in professional data recovery hardware and tools.
We use an ISO Class 5 cleanroom cabinet, from Sentry Air Systems, for hard drive diagnosis and repair when we need to remove the hard drive’s cover.
2019 update: we now also have a smaller version of this same cabinet.
Ace Laboratory gives us the PC3000, the most sophisticated data recovery tool in existence! Mastering the PC3000 takes years of experience and education (and the tool itself comes at a very hefty cost). The PC3000 allows us to fix hard drive firmware problems, reconstruct damaged file systems, and disable weak or bad heads inside the hard drive, and image drives that cannot be imaged with any other tools.
Each hard drive manufacturer uses a different and unique language to speak with their hard drives. For this reason, it’s very difficult to master data recovery, and especially the PC3000 — it’s like learning to speak seven different languages. How well you “speak” the hard drive’s language determines your success. We’re fluent in all hard drive languages including Seagate, Western Digital, Toshiba, Hitachi, Fujitsu, Maxtor, and Samsung!
We use several PC3000s, including the latest PC3000 Express, PC3000 UDMA-e, PC3000-SSD, PC3000-Flash, and PC3000-SAS/SCSI. We also use Ace Lab’s Data Extractor, an invaluable tool for imaging failing hard drives, rebuilding complex RAID systems, and recovering from certain SSD firmware failures. Data Extractor, along with the RAID and SSD add-ons, works directly with, and perfectly compliments, the PC3000.
Our PC3000-SSD is a tool specifically designed to solve problems of failed controllers and firmware corruption on SSD drives. PC3000-Flash is a completely different device (connected to our computer using USB not PCI) for “chip-off” recoveries and technological-mode recoveries for SD/MicroSD cards. This device allows us to read any kind of failed flash chip and then reconstruct the controller’s algorithms. PC3000-
SAS/SCSI works the same as the PC3000 Express and UDMA, but supports SAS/SCSI devices (rather than SATA/ATA/USB) and the firmware problems that are associated with them.
The Deepspar Disk Imager is known in the data recovery industry as being the best hard drive imager, period. It can recover data from dying drives with bad sectors more safely, quickly, and effectively than any other data recovery tool.
We have the network, USB, and ATA add-ons for the Deepspar. The network add-on allows us to access all of our DDIs from one central computer and also allows us to create file listings with each file’s recoverability status. This file listing can then be viewed and approve by our customer before finishing the recovery.
The USB add-on allows us to work directly with USB PCBs, even though we often still need to convert the USB PCB to a SATA PCB in order to fix firmware problems.
The ATA add-on gives us the option for a 2nd clone of the bad drive (for example, if our customer provided a SATA transfer drive and wants a clone, rather than “file” recovery. It also provides faster imaging speeds, so we use the ATA add-on Deepspars for our Priority Service customers.
Finally, we have the latest add-on from Deepspar, the “PCI-e” add-on. This is the only device on the market right now that supports recovery from failed PCI-e devices, like Apple SSD drives.
Atola Technology‘s “Insight” is one of the newest professional data recovery tools. Although it’s about the same cost as a PC3000, with less firmware repair capabilities, it does a good job of imaging drives (similar to the Deepspar Disk Imager).
But one of the major reasons we ended up investing in the Atola Insight was to help increase our work-flow speed. This is due to the Insight’s quick and comprehensive diagnostic suite. We can get a good idea of the problem with the hard drive within a few minutes.
If the problem is not mechanical or firmware related, we can immediately start cloning on the Insight or a Deepspar Disk Imager. If the problem requires further repair, we’ll continue working with it on a PC3000.
SalvationDATA tools are most useful for their ability to work directly with each individual hard drive manufacturer(e.g., Seagate, Hitachi, Maxtor, etc) and fix problems inside the hard drive itself (e.g., corrupt firmware or ROM). Not as complex as the PC3000, but a useful set of tools to have.
Like SalvationData’s Data Compass, YEC produces hardware (like our “Ninja”) for cloning hard drives with bad sectors.
We have over a dozen hardware disk imagers from various manufacturers along with the leading hard drive firmware diagnostic tool. We use an ISO Class 5 cleanroom cabinet for hard drive diagnosis and repair, along with hot air stations, soldering tools for PCB diagnosis and repair, and the highest quality head swap tools from HDDSurgery.
Rusolut is one of the leading developers of “chip-off” recovery software, in particular, their VNR (Virtual NAND Reconstructor) software. This extremely complex software (on right) requires expertise and a vast amount of flash-recovery knowledge to use effectively.
Our lead technician was trained by Rusolut’s lead developer in a week-long class. Using this knowledge, we can now recover from many failed NAND/flash chips/Monolith devices, including devices that other tools do not support.
For any device that we cannot recover, we also have the resources of Rusolut’s technical support staff (some of the best chip-off recovery experts in the world) working with us. By remotely accessing our VNR machine, they are able to help us solve the most difficult cases and even create custom solutions just for our customers.
We use several adapters for MicroSD cards from Multi-com (these adapters work with all our chip-off recovery tools). These adapters help us avoid the time spent manually soldering cables to monolith devices (or using Ace’s Spider Board). Soldering to such small devices can take hours and cause major headaches if the soldering job isn’t executed perfectly. And, they help ensure a safer and more efficient recovery outcome.
Without giving away all our secrets, rest assured, we go way beyond the capabilities of software-based data recovery tools, your computer repair technician’s toolkit, or dangerous internet “tricks,” to recover your data as safely, thoroughly, and quickly as possible.
ABOVE: Part 1 of Brian Cometa’s interview with Carey Holzman (in this video we describe the tools we use and how we use them).
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