HELP: All Data Erased From Hard Drive After Repair!

Discussion in 'NZ Computing' started by Smith, Aug 14, 2007.

  1. Smith

    Smith Guest

    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.
    Smith, Aug 14, 2007
    #1
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  2. Re: All Data Erased From Hard Drive After Repair!

    "Smith" <> wrote in message
    news:46c0f44b$...
    > 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.
    Michael Payne, Aug 14, 2007
    #2
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  3. Smith

    Tony in Oz Guest

    Re: All Data Erased From Hard Drive After Repair!

    "Smith" <> wrote in message
    news:46c0f44b$...
    > 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
    Tony in Oz, Aug 14, 2007
    #3
  4. Smith

    peterwn Guest

    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.
    peterwn, Aug 14, 2007
    #4
  5. Smith

    David Empson Guest

    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.


    [...]

    > 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
    David Empson, Aug 14, 2007
    #5
  6. Smith

    thingy Guest

    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
    thingy, Aug 14, 2007
    #6
  7. Smith

    george Guest

    >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.
    george, Aug 14, 2007
    #7
  8. Smith

    Tony in Oz Guest

    "peterwn" <> wrote in message
    news:46c104b9$...
    > / Outlook Express files (you cannot simply back these up for reasons best
    > known to Micro$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.
    Tony in Oz, Aug 14, 2007
    #8
  9. Smith

    Slim Jim Guest

    On Tue, 14 Aug 2007 02:21:48 GMT, "Tony in Oz" <> wrote:

    >
    >"peterwn" <> wrote in message
    >news:46c104b9$...
    >> / Outlook Express files (you cannot simply back these up for reasons best
    >> known to Micro$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.
    Slim Jim, Aug 14, 2007
    #9
  10. Smith

    Smith Guest

    Re: All Data Erased From Hard Drive After Repair!

    "Tony in Oz" <> wrote in message
    news:307wi.20075$...

    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.
    Smith, Aug 14, 2007
    #10
  11. Smith

    Tony in Oz Guest

    Re: All Data Erased From Hard Drive After Repair!

    "Smith" <> wrote in message
    news:46c1196e$...
    >
    > "Tony in Oz" <> wrote in message
    > news:307wi.20075$...
    >
    > 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.
    >



    Of course they should have been in contact with the customer. But I'm
    presuming now it was somewhere like Dick Smith, who don't do repairs, but
    send them away, from what you just said, and the places that they send them
    to will give even less of a shit about your data than the retailer, or give
    a crap about contacting you. The technician that worked on it is probably
    under ordrs from his boss to get the damn thing out the door as quickly as
    possible, and this is how they do it. cheers.
    Tony in Oz, Aug 14, 2007
    #11
  12. Smith

    Smith Guest

    "peterwn" <> wrote in message
    news:46c104b9$...

    > 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.


    The retailer is a general nationwide one which sells computers among lots of
    other things. You make a good point about warranty terms, this is worth
    looking into as the computer was repaired under warranty.

    snip

    > 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.


    I am an experienced computer user who does have a reasonable external hard
    drive backup regime in place. However, I wouldn't have guessed that any
    repairer would automatically assume that a user had fully backed up the
    computer and thus feel justified in completely wiping a hard drive without
    the prior written authority from the user or the retailer. So I have learned
    a lot from this thread and I hope others will too!
    Smith, Aug 14, 2007
    #12
  13. Smith

    Smith Guest

    "thingy" <> wrote in message
    news:...
    >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.


    Ouch, surely lots of users would expect to be consulted before their
    property is deleted from their computers by repairers?
    >
    > 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....


    In my humble opinion, I think that people need to have the backup issue
    specifically drawn to their attention when they take their computers in for
    repair. Even relatively experienced computer users wouldn't necessarily be
    expected to know that a repairer is likely to erase their hard drives
    without the need for their prior written authorisation.

    snip

    > 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.


    I have just talked to a dedicated computer retailer who also does their own
    repairs. They told me that they never delete data from a client's hard drive
    unless they receive specific authority to do so from that client. This is
    the policy that I expected all repairers would adopt, and I commend all
    those repairers who have this policy!
    Smith, Aug 14, 2007
    #13
  14. Smith

    Miguel Guest

    >On Tue, 14 Aug 2007 13:31:06 +1200, David Empson wrote:

    > 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.


    Hello David...With absolute respect to both yourself and peterwn, I'd
    advise the original poster to remain optimistic regarding the data
    recovery as opposed to your slightly less optimistic (but possibly more
    realistic) view. He/she should head on over to....

    http://www.sleuthkit.org/

    I've used Autopsy four times in the last year to recover data from
    reformatted hard drives. Once with little to show for it, twice with
    quite good results and once with nearly full recovery.

    I'm certainly no computer guru. But the software at sleuthkit definitely
    makes data recovery for the masses a reality.

    The state of disk fragmentation pre-install is luck of the draw. The
    contents of the swap file pre-install are also luck of the draw. The
    original poster has nothing to lose by giving Autopsy a go.

    Regards
    Miguel
    Miguel, Aug 14, 2007
    #14
  15. Smith

    Smith Guest

    "David Empson" <> wrote in message
    news:1i2u815.5fs46f2pmhe6N%...
    > 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.

    >
    > [...]
    >
    >> 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.


    But wouldn't a computer user expect to be consulted if a repairer decides
    it's necessary to delete their data "for good". Sometimes, computers can
    break down suddenly without warning. This happened to me once when the power
    supply failed. In these circumstances, the user may not have had a chance to
    have fully backed up data that had been created recently. I have taken in
    computers for servicing two or three times over the years, and I never
    thought to ask the repairers about whether they would want to delete all my
    data. I just assumed they would preserve my data, and I guess there would be
    a lot of other computer users who would also make this assumption.

    Some people in this thread maintain that not all the data can be recovered
    once a clean operating system reinstall has been done. The retailer agrees
    and told my friend that, even if hundreds of dollars was spent on trying to
    recover the data, much of it might still be lost or be unusable if
    recovered. This surprises me, I thought that law enforcement agencies, for
    example, could recover almost anything from a hard drive, no matter what
    reformatting or physical damage the drive had sustained.
    Smith, Aug 14, 2007
    #15
  16. Smith

    Smith Guest

    "Miguel" <> wrote in message
    news:f9r8m4$gv9$...

    > Hello David...With absolute respect to both yourself and peterwn, I'd
    > advise the original poster to remain optimistic regarding the data
    > recovery as opposed to your slightly less optimistic (but possibly more
    > realistic) view. He/she should head on over to....
    >
    > http://www.sleuthkit.org/
    >
    > I've used Autopsy four times in the last year to recover data from
    > reformatted hard drives. Once with little to show for it, twice with
    > quite good results and once with nearly full recovery.
    >
    > I'm certainly no computer guru. But the software at sleuthkit definitely
    > makes data recovery for the masses a reality.
    >
    > The state of disk fragmentation pre-install is luck of the draw. The
    > contents of the swap file pre-install are also luck of the draw. The
    > original poster has nothing to lose by giving Autopsy a go.


    Thanks Miguel, this would be worth a try.
    Smith, Aug 14, 2007
    #16
  17. Smith

    Tony in Oz Guest

    "Smith" <> wrote in message
    news:46c126d6$...
    >
    > "David Empson" <> wrote in message
    > news:1i2u815.5fs46f2pmhe6N%...
    >> Smith <> wrote:
    >>

    > But wouldn't a computer user expect to be consulted if a repairer decides
    > it's necessary to delete their data "for good". Sometimes, computers can
    > break down suddenly without warning. This happened to me once when the
    > power supply failed.

    Assuming you are talking about the Power Suply unit in the computer
    failing, this woud not lead to a loss of data, as it does not usually entail
    damage to the HDD. Soon as you replace the PSU, your good to go. About a 15
    minute job. This is one of the more spectacular repairs you can do for the
    inexperienced user. One minute their machine is completely dead, and quarter
    of an hour later you have it up and running with no data loss. Impresses the
    hell out of them!

    In these circumstances, the user may not have had a chance to
    > have fully backed up data that had been created recently. I have taken in
    > computers for servicing two or three times over the years, and I never
    > thought to ask the repairers about whether they would want to delete all
    > my data.


    Its not a matter of them wanting to delete all your data. In some cases
    the data is not recoverable anyway, or not easily recoverable. Or sometimes
    its a matter of them not giving a crap about your data. You are the only
    person that gives as much of a dan about it, so it is your responsibility to
    back it up. By all means get hold of the data recovery experts. if you are
    in Auckland, One that comes to mind is Computer Forensics.
    I just assumed they would preserve my data,
    ASSUME makes an ASS out of U and ME, as the geeks are apt to say.

    and I guess there would be
    > a lot of other computer users who would also make this assumption.
    >
    > Some people in this thread maintain that not all the data can be recovered
    > once a clean operating system reinstall has been done. The retailer agrees
    > and told my friend that, even if hundreds of dollars was spent on trying
    > to recover the data, much of it might still be lost or be unusable if
    > recovered.

    He is dead right, for reasons explained elsewhere in this thread. What was
    replaced on the machine? Is it the same HDD it went in with? If they have
    replaced the drive, then your data won't ever have been on it so there will
    be nothing to recover.
    This surprises me, I thought that law enforcement agencies, for
    > example, could recover almost anything from a hard drive, no matter what
    > reformatting or physical damage the drive had sustained.


    Yes law enforcement can recover more than the average person, but they can
    only do the same as outfits like Computer Forensics. They will dismantle a
    drive and read bits and pieces and fragments of it and try and put it all
    together, but I repeat, this is COSTLY and TIME CONSUMING. Unless the data
    is absolutely critical and irreplaceable, will be out of most peoples
    financial reach. When a file is deleted, all it does is kill the reference
    to it, so it becomes invisible, and makes the area on the drive that it was
    taking up available for over writing. Once that space has been overwritten,
    it will be impossible to recover the data, even by Forensics. A good
    "shredding program will delete files and overwrite the space they took up 5
    or more times, to ensure the data will not be recovered.
    >
    Tony in Oz, Aug 14, 2007
    #17
  18. Smith

    Greg House Guest

    On Tue, 14 Aug 2007 12:12:34 +1200, "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?
    >
    >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.
    >
    >
    >




    Yes Idiots can only think that the way to fix a PC is to format the hard drive, I have never done
    that in my life....


    By law they must warn the customer, so now you can sue the..
    Greg House, Aug 14, 2007
    #18
  19. In article <46c126d6$>, "Smith" <> wrote:

    >Some people in this thread maintain that not all the data can be recovered
    >once a clean operating system reinstall has been done. The retailer agrees
    >and told my friend that, even if hundreds of dollars was spent on trying to
    >recover the data, much of it might still be lost or be unusable if
    >recovered. This surprises me, I thought that law enforcement agencies, for
    >example, could recover almost anything from a hard drive, no matter what
    >reformatting or physical damage the drive had sustained.


    Depends on how it's done IIRC. A 'deleted' file just has it's pointer
    deleted (meaning you can't find it) and the data areas marked as 'free'. The
    data is still there (or mostly :) ) - until you write something over it.
    There is a wipeout option in some systems that actively writes zeros to file
    locations, making the data very hard to recover. This is what you'd expect
    businesses etc to use if they were selling or giving away their old
    computers for example.

    I can't imagine any computer servicer wiping the disk before reinstalling,
    so as David suggested (again IIRC) there may well be some data still there.

    A question - if the email address book is recoverable, is there anything
    else major actually stored on email ? There shouldn't be ... but I do know
    some people that leave important files in there. Not clever IMO. :)

    I wouldn't think the actual emails themselves worth the bother.
    Bruce Sinclair, Aug 14, 2007
    #19
  20. In article <2tod.net>, Mark Robinson <2tod.net> wrote:
    (snip)
    >It's worth making a phone call before you format a customer's drive.


    ... for no other reasons than to keep the customer on side and wanting to
    return in the future. Bad form that company.
    Now, say who it is so we can avoid them ... another reason ... hmmm. :)
    Bruce Sinclair, Aug 14, 2007
    #20
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