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HELP: All Data Erased From Hard Drive After Repair!

 
 
Smith
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Posts: n/a
 
      08-14-2007
Recently, a friend took in a computer for repair, and when it was received
back, was stunned to find that all the data had been erased and the
operating system reinstalled. My friend says he was not given any warning by
the retailer when he took the computer in that all the data could be erased.
The retailer has advised that the repair ticket issued says that data back
up is the responsibility of the user. But I think it would have been better
if my friend had been asked to give specific written instructions about how
the repairer should deal with the data on the computer, do you agree?

My friend has also been advised that the data on the hard drive when it was
taken in for repair was not backed up by the repairer and that neither the
repairer nor the retailer will attempt to recover the lost data because it
is almost certainly irrecoverable. But, in the absence of specific authority
to erase the data, shouldn't the repairer be responsible for attempting to
recover the data?

Has anyone else had a similar experience? Is the data almost certainly
irrecoverable, even by a data recovery specialist? Should my friend be
compensated in some way for the loss of all his data? I know that my friend
had back up copies of some of his digital photos, but many of the e-mails,
word processing files etc. have been lost. The hard drive was not faulty so
my friend did not think it was of huge importance to back up all the data on
the computer before it was repaired. Thanks in advance for your thoughts on
this matter.




 
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Michael Payne
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      08-14-2007

"Smith" <(E-Mail Removed)> wrote in message
news:46c0f44b$(E-Mail Removed)...
> Recently, a friend took in a computer for repair, and when it was received
> back, was stunned to find that all the data had been erased and the
> operating system reinstalled. My friend says he was not given any warning
> by the retailer when he took the computer in that all the data could be
> erased. The retailer has advised that the repair ticket issued says that
> data back up is the responsibility of the user. But I think it would have
> been better if my friend had been asked to give specific written
> instructions about how the repairer should deal with the data on the
> computer, do you agree?

<snip>

This isnt unusual. I used to work for a large computer repair firm and this
was a daily occurance. It generally is the users responsibility to look
after their own data, but yes - totally agree - more should be done by these
companies to inform the customer that there is a chance all data can be
lost.

If you really push it they may assist with forensic data recovery.


 
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Tony in Oz
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      08-14-2007

"Smith" <(E-Mail Removed)> wrote in message
news:46c0f44b$(E-Mail Removed)...
> Recently, a friend took in a computer for repair, and when it was received
> back, was stunned to find that all the data had been erased and the
> operating system reinstalled. My friend says he was not given any warning
> by the retailer when he took the computer in that all the data could be
> erased. The retailer has advised that the repair ticket issued says that
> data back up is the responsibility of the user. But I think it would have
> been better if my friend had been asked to give specific written
> instructions about how the repairer should deal with the data on the
> computer, do you agree?
>
> My friend has also been advised that the data on the hard drive when it
> was taken in for repair was not backed up by the repairer and that neither
> the repairer nor the retailer will attempt to recover the lost data
> because it is almost certainly irrecoverable. But, in the absence of
> specific authority to erase the data, shouldn't the repairer be
> responsible for attempting to recover the data?
>
> Has anyone else had a similar experience? Is the data almost certainly
> irrecoverable, even by a data recovery specialist? Should my friend be
> compensated in some way for the loss of all his data? I know that my
> friend had back up copies of some of his digital photos, but many of the
> e-mails, word processing files etc. have been lost. The hard drive was not
> faulty so my friend did not think it was of huge importance to back up all
> the data on the computer before it was repaired. Thanks in advance for
> your thoughts on this matter.
>
>
>
>

OK, this is more within my field of experiemce! As someone who ran a
small mobile computer repair business for several years, i may be able to
shed some light.. technically, the company that did this repair is correct,
backup of data is the responsibility of the user. HOWEVER: I used to, if a
reformat and clean install of the OS was necessary, advise the customer of
this, and ask whether he or she had backed up the data. If not, I would
offer to do it, at the usual hourly rate. They would then be asked to sign
a waiver stating that if I was doing the backup, while all care would be
taken to get everything that was required, no responsibility would be
accepted for things that were missed. And typically it would only be the "My
Documents " folder, pictures, music, and e-mails. I would stick them onto
an external medium, such as memory stick, CD or DVD, and then replace them
back in the appropriate folders when the job was done.If they were on CD or
DVD they would also get the backup copy, as a reminder to do it regularly.
Then reformat, reinstall windows, install any other programs supplied by the
customer, along with any freebie Antivirus etc they may request. Job done.
Sometimes a particular problem will be much easier to sort out with a
reformat and clean install, but solvable without taking this rather drastic
step, and in this case contact with the customer is essential. Kind of,
"well I can spend a lot more hours tracking this problem down, and fixing
it, or I can spend just a couple of hours doing a clean install, which will
also solve it. What would you prefer?" If, for instance the customer had
lost his OS disks, thereby not having a way to reinstall Windows withut
purchasing another one, then obviously its better to sort it without
formatting.
So if this is what the repair company did, I would suggest they were
either trying to save time or money by takng the action they took. It sounds
like they were a retailer as well, working on a machine which is under
warranty? If the reformat was not necesary, sounds like laziness to me.
As for the last part of the question, is the data recoverable? Hard to
say. Data recovery expets would be the ones to talk to. But I would think
after a reformat and clean install, it would be very unlikely, and if it was
possible, very expensive. Its like I stated on an earlier post. Hardware is
cheap as chips, Data, especially un-backed up data is priceless. It doesn't
matter if your hard drive is not faulty, They are a mechanical device, and
statistically, 100% of hard drives will, at some time, fail. End of story.
The first 3 rules of computing are: 1. back up 2. Backup and 3. Backup. Its
usually too late to consider backing up when the drive has failed. And
certainly back up all your necessary stuff before it goes for repair, even
if its just a check over and tune up.
Compensation. You won't get anything out of them, because they were
correct in what they say about backup being your responsibility. But they
definitely should have been communicating with the customer, if not legally,
then ethically. For interest's sake, was it a big firm, a small private
operator, or what sort of business? It is, I feel it is a lesson in
backing up for your friend. It just cannnot be stressed enough that it
should be done regularly. In fact this post is a timely reminder to me to do
mine as it hasn't been done in a while. I use exclusively digital camera,
and so don't have negatives or hard copy photos, but I have them all backed
up on DVD, which is the most reliable form of backup IMO. Hope this helps
at least a little bit, I know there's not much comfort to be had from it as
far as getting your stuff back goes. sorry bout that. next time take it
somewhere else. Small operators can be good operators, as i reckon they try
harder. Just watch out for the cowboys. Cheers


 
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peterwn
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      08-14-2007
Smith wrote:
> Recently, a friend took in a computer for repair, and when it was
> received back, was stunned to find that all the data had been erased and
> the operating system reinstalled. My friend says he was not given any
> warning by the retailer when he took the computer in that all the data
> could be erased. The retailer has advised that the repair ticket issued
> says that data back up is the responsibility of the user. But I think it
> would have been better if my friend had been asked to give specific
> written instructions about how the repairer should deal with the data on
> the computer, do you agree?


Much would turn on what precisely the repair ticket said and the precise
way the computer was accepted for repair. Other issues would be whether
the retailer was a specialist computer retailer or a general retailer
who sells computers among other things, and whether any warranty terms
apply. In particular for a warranty repair the warranty terms may allow
the repairer to restore the computer to 'as sold' - in this case there
is no respect for user data unless the purchaser contracts separately.
If the system is riddled with viruses etc, a 'clean' reinstallation may
be the only option.

One would expect that any reasonable computer sales assistant would ask
data backup when accepting the machine for repair, especially as
respecting data may well be at extra cost.

There is however a problem here. What needed to be backed-up? The
stuff in each user's 'My Documents' is easy, then an 'export' of Outlook
/ Outlook Express files (you cannot simply back these up for reasons
best known to Micro$oft), but there may be other pockets of 'user' data
in program directories, etc (the average repairer would not know all the
places to look as knowledge of each piece of software installed would be
needed. It is not in general possible to backup software - this needs
to be re-installed.

>
> My friend has also been advised that the data on the hard drive when it
> was taken in for repair was not backed up by the repairer and that
> neither the repairer nor the retailer will attempt to recover the lost
> data because it is almost certainly irrecoverable.


A significant portion at least is likely to be irrecoverable as it would
have been over-written when the system was reinstalled.

> But, in the absence
> of specific authority to erase the data, shouldn't the repairer be
> responsible for attempting to recover the data?


See above

>
> Has anyone else had a similar experience? Is the data almost certainly
> irrecoverable, even by a data recovery specialist? Should my friend be
> compensated in some way for the loss of all his data?


It would all depend on what the express and implied terms were when the
computer was accepted for repair.

Since it is accepted in the computer world that regular backups are
necessary, it could be argued that your friend contributed to the loss
by not having a reasonable backup regime in place.
 
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David Empson
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Posts: n/a
 
      08-14-2007
Smith <(E-Mail Removed)> wrote:

> Recently, a friend took in a computer for repair, and when it was received
> back, was stunned to find that all the data had been erased and the
> operating system reinstalled.


[...]

> Has anyone else had a similar experience?


Not personally (I would always back up as a matter of common sense
before giving my computer to someone else to fix), but I've certainly
heard of it before.

> Is the data almost certainly irrecoverable, even by a data recovery
> specialist?


It would be reasonable to expect that at least some of the data will
have been overwritten due to the system being reinstalled. Only data on
later parts of the disk is likely to be recoverable.

If the system is in roughly the same place as before, this could mean a
large proportion of the data can be saved, but if the system was
previously fragmented all over the place and the earlier part of the
disk was being used for data, then more will have been lost.

Is it even the original hard drive or the same computer? If parts were
swapped out, the data might be gone for good.

--
David Empson
http://www.velocityreviews.com/forums/(E-Mail Removed)
 
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thingy
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Posts: n/a
 
      08-14-2007
I have seen this so many times it is just not true, if the data is
valuable you would look after it....if you are lazy and you dont....well
tough.

Smith wrote:
> Recently, a friend took in a computer for repair, and when it was
> received back, was stunned to find that all the data had been erased and
> the operating system reinstalled. My friend says he was not given any
> warning by the retailer when he took the computer in that all the data
> could be erased. The retailer has advised that the repair ticket issued
> says that data back up is the responsibility of the user.


Normal practice. catch22 here....There is now way to know the state of
the hd, a repair company could spend hours and possibly $100s recovering
data only to be told it was of no value and no that time wont be paid
for as it was not authorized.

But I think it
> would have been better if my friend had been asked to give specific
> written instructions about how the repairer should deal with the data on
> the computer, do you agree?


yes your friend should have given them specific instructions on
recovery.....Unless it was written down that data recovery should be
attempted and confirmation of the cost sought outside of that the
standard check/fix would be a hd wipe....

I have been on the shop side of this myself and in both cases no one
asked for an attempt to recover the data....in both cases there was a
tape backup unit/zip drive but the owner had not used them in many months...

I still chase my partner even now to make backups and I get
refusals...yet we lost a HD 2 years back and the grief was un-believable...

> My friend has also been advised that the data on the hard drive when it
> was taken in for repair was not backed up by the repairer and that
> neither the repairer nor the retailer will attempt to recover the lost
> data because it is almost certainly irrecoverable. But, in the absence
> of specific authority to erase the data, shouldn't the repairer be
> responsible for attempting to recover the data?


No, not IMHO. The owner of the data should take frequent backups. In any
reasonable scenario there is no way a repairer can afford the hundreds
of dollars in recovering the data unless the owner specifically asks for
and authorizes it.

> Has anyone else had a similar experience? Is the data almost certainly
> irrecoverable, even by a data recovery specialist?


If the disk simply needed a re-install of the OS then the hardware was
OK. In that case most data probably could have been recovered by
mounting the drive as a slave and copying it off....

Should my friend be
> compensated in some way for the loss of all his data?


No, not IMHO.

I know that my
> friend had back up copies of some of his digital photos, but many of the
> e-mails, word processing files etc. have been lost.


Should have done a backup.

The hard drive was
> not faulty so my friend did not think it was of huge importance to back
> up all the data on the computer before it was repaired. Thanks in
> advance for your thoughts on this matter.


How did you know it was not faulty hardware before it was taken in? It
could have been a failing platter....as it turns out not...it is pretty
hard to figure out the failure a low level format and re-install is the
first thing to do if its looking that bad.

You could try taking it to the small claims court but it sounds like
personal data and as such almost impossible to value....If you dont take
backups how can you claim the data is valuable? it was not worth your
time to make them so why should the repairer be socked with data
recovery or compensation?

A good techy could/should have rung you to ask just to make
sure...unless the docket is pretty clear....same techy is probably
expected to repair lots of PCs per hour so wasting time trying to
contact the owner for a straightforward case with no notes to say look
at data recovery cost....

regards

Thing











 
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george
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Posts: n/a
 
      08-14-2007
>From here on buy an external HD.
Send all your WP files, address books and other such data to the
external drive.
If you're using Windoze there is a reasonable backup program available
and with the wizard its easy to set up and run.



 
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Tony in Oz
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      08-14-2007

"peterwn" <(E-Mail Removed)> wrote in message
news:46c104b9$(E-Mail Removed)...
> / Outlook Express files (you cannot simply back these up for reasons best
> known to Micro$oft), but there may be other pockets of 'user' data in
> program directories, etc (the average repairer would



You can back up the e-mail folders C:/Documents and Settings/User name/
Local Settings/Application Data/Identities/{9A7C9A58-F257....
etc}/Microsoft/Outlook Express/then choose which folders, IE inbox, sent
items, etc to back up to your media. You can then import them straight
back into the newly reinstalled program using the import/ Messages. Note
you need to enable the showing of hidden files and folders to find these
folders.
Cheers.


 
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Slim Jim
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Posts: n/a
 
      08-14-2007
On Tue, 14 Aug 2007 02:21:48 GMT, "Tony in Oz" <(E-Mail Removed)> wrote:

>
>"peterwn" <(E-Mail Removed)> wrote in message
>news:46c104b9$(E-Mail Removed)...
>> / Outlook Express files (you cannot simply back these up for reasons best
>> known to Micro$oft), but there may be other pockets of 'user' data in
>> program directories, etc (the average repairer would

>
>
>You can back up the e-mail folders C:/Documents and Settings/User name/
>Local Settings/Application Data/Identities/{9A7C9A58-F257....
>etc}/Microsoft/Outlook Express/then choose which folders, IE inbox, sent
>items, etc to back up to your media. You can then import them straight
>back into the newly reinstalled program using the import/ Messages. Note
>you need to enable the showing of hidden files and folders to find these
>folders.
>Cheers.
>

I find using a free standing proggie like Eudora much easier- can drag
and drop the thing and user data files from drive to drive no problem.
 
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Smith
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Posts: n/a
 
      08-14-2007

"Tony in Oz" <(E-Mail Removed)> wrote in message
news:307wi.20075$(E-Mail Removed)...

snip

> For interest's sake, was it a big firm, a small private operator, or what
> sort of business? It is, I feel it is a lesson in backing up for your
> friend. It just cannnot be stressed enough that it should be done
> regularly. In fact this post is a timely reminder to me to do mine as it
> hasn't been done in a while. I use exclusively digital camera, and so
> don't have negatives or hard copy photos, but I have them all backed up on
> DVD, which is the most reliable form of backup IMO. Hope this helps at
> least a little bit, I know there's not much comfort to be had from it as
> far as getting your stuff back goes. sorry bout that. next time take it
> somewhere else. Small operators can be good operators, as i reckon they
> try harder. Just watch out for the cowboys. Cheers


Thanks a lot Tony and the others who have replied to my post, your
information is most helpful. The retailer is a big nationwide one which
sends all computer repairs direct to the New Zealand repair agent of the
international computer manufacturer. This retail chain doesn't do any
repairs itself. The laptop was repaired under warranty. Although I know that
everyone should back up their data regularly, not all users are as computer
literate as others. I feel that my friend could have been warned by both the
retailer and the repairer that all the data could be lost when the repair
was done. As has been pointed out in this thread, some data, such as
e-mails, may not be all that easy for novice computer users to back up.

 
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