It isn’t rare to see someone come into our computer shop who is worried about the data on their computer. There are many things that can go wrong with the part of the computer that stores your personal files, some of which we can fix, and some of which require special facilities that we don’t have. If your computer stopped working and you’re worried about your data, the situations I’ll describe here should give you a better idea of what you can expect to happen. They’re listed in order from highest to lowest chance of recovery.
One common issue is the MBR, or Master Boot Record on the hard drive being corrupt. The MBR is located on the first few megabytes of the drive, and contains information as to where each file on the hard drive is located. If the location information in the MBR differs from the actual location of the file on the drive, the computer won’t be able to find the file. This will often result in the computer not booting. The technicians at South City Computer can look through the actual data on the drive, and rebuild the MBR based upon it, resulting in a full recovery and a usable drive.
Unable to mount drive
When the drive won’t mount, it means that there are too many bad sectors on the drive for the computer to open and use the file system. It is impossible to boot a computer when the drive won’t mount, and it also means that recovering files from the drive will involve working with raw data. In most cases, our software technicians can use advanced tools to pull the raw data from the drive and form an image, a virtual drive stored as a file within a different drive. We use advanced algotrithms to rebuild the corrupt sectors amd patch them into the image. Then, the image can be mounted and the files can be extracted.
Too many input/output errors
This situation is the same one as above, except that the drive has so many corrupt sectors that we can’t rebuild it. In this case, we would use a technique called file carving. To carve files, we look through the raw data for signatures that indicate the data of a specific file. Each file type has it’s own set of signatures. Since we are wokign with raw data, we can recover the content of the files, but not their names or locations.
This situation occurs when the drive has mechanical damage to the point that the computer won’t even recognise it as a drive anymore. To remedy such a situation requires taking the drive apart and moving the platters onto a different unit. We do not attempt this type of repair because we don’t have the necessary facilities. We can advise you on your situation and refer you to a company that does, though.