Peculiarities of information recovery services market

Artem Makarov aka Robin
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An instructive story from the category of a combination of the foodstuff produced on the basis of curtailed milk, and devices for catching small rodents. The story tells why who repairs not his gutters repairs his whole house.

I got a Seagate ST3400620AS firmware 3. AAK s 9QG168BK storage disc of 400 Gb with SATA interface for information recovery from Krasnodar. The anamnesis is as follows: the engine is not accelerated and, as a consequence, is not defined in the computer BIOS. The user information recovery is required.


External examination helps to define the initial diagnosis - failure of the printed circuit board, namely - a spindle engine and the magnetic heads assembly control chip is faulty. There is no sense to repair PCB to recover data, as the procedure is as follows: a suitable serviceable one is used to copy data from a faulty one to it via PROM programmer which reads out data from a faulty storage disc, then the ROM content is entered to the serviceable PCB in a safe mode.

Burned out spindle engine 'turning chip'Burned out spindle engine 'turning' chip

I did so. The engine was accelerated, heads were unblocked but not recalibrated. In state registers flag BUSY is still triggered. At the same time the HDD has sent to the diagnostic terminal a following message:

Reset 8192k x 16 DRAM GALAXY - 1_Disk S-7A 12-08-06_16:41 HM SFI ! ERR Read App Code

Meaning: while starting the disc could not read through (or load) Application Code. To concretize a situation, it is necessary to specify an error code with a special terminal command. The disc has given out:

Code - A6 Track 15F83.0.238 Sns FFF

Code-A6 means, that Application Code was read out, but its contents mismatch ROM and the hard disc PCB processor cannot initialize the microprogram. All app code copies in the HDD service area are identical, thus at this stage it is already possible to assert with the big degree of probability, that the ROM board does not belong to a faulty hard disk.

To find out, which version of ROM is necessary for writing down, it is necessary to read through App Code from the store and to analyze its contents so I did it.

Having chosen, based on data from App Code, necessary ROM content for the microprogram correct start, I programmed the HDD board.

After power on I saw in the terminal diagnostic window the following:

Reset 8192k x 16 DRAM GALAXY - 1_Disk S-7A 12-08-06_16:41 HM SFI ! (P) SATA Reset Not Interface Age! DiskAccess ReadSector EC=47 at ffffffff.01.0000 DiskAccess ReadSector EC=47 at ffffffff.01.0000 INVALID Cert Disk Code - ROM Resident Revision Required: AAK3A0 Command Inactive - No VALID Cert Code Detected

T> Age=4F Type=06 MxCyl=21135 MxHd=5 MxSct=000 BSz=016M TCode=00000000 ThermFlts=0000

cumhlth=70cc, curhlth=0000

The basic lines in the extract are: Not Interface Age!, which show that the disk is at a level different from the user interface level (Age50) and actually Age=4F which lets know, at which level the disc microprogram stopped. The necessary comment Age4F generally means that the attempt to initialize a cycle of the disc factory self-testing failed. The field "health" with admissible mistakes total during scanning turned out to be overflown (70cch).

It is obvious, that such a picture could not be owing to any failure result at all. These are unequivocal consequences of extraneous intervention in the HDD.

It is necessary to note such a moment: if the disk was repaired by unskillful repairman trying to recover information from it clumsily, the expert work becomes essentially complicated. Since unlike typical malfunctions and their consequences it is necessary to solve the problem what intervention was like and what is done. It concerns not only HDD, but also any hi-tech devices. Therefore, if the device was somewhere at unsuccessful repair the subsequent master increases cost of works at minimum in one and a half time. And many masters do not take devices after intervention for data recovery.

It was the same case. For the sake of justice I assumed, that all the same the ROM was original, and only App Code is copied, therefore after the ROM initial contents recovery, I loaded the compatible microprogram directly into the RAM and gave a command on performance. The disk was initialized but its level remained on Age4F. In spite of the fact that the HDD does not enter the operating mode independently via the user ATA-interface, there is an opportunity to get access to the user zone, to the file system structure, necessary folders and files.

Therefore after loading the certified code used for HDD engineering operating mode into the HDD memory I loaded Sys. Var. (the compiler, adaptive samples and the zone distribution table) and started the procedure of the user area reading through the technological port.

LBA-> PCHS: 0 = 0x18: 0x0: 0x0.............................: Ok

The sector mbr - 0 Lba is read through

LBA-> PCHS: 63 = 0x18: 0x0: 0x3F...........................: Ok

The standard sector boot - 63 Lba is read through

LBA-> PCHS: 2962 = 0x19: 0x0: 0x578........................: Ok LBA-> PCHS: 21184324 = 0x8DA: 0x0: 0x3BE...................: Ok LBA-> PCHS: 10067809 = 0x40C: 0x0: 0x0.....................: Ok LBA-> PCHS: 16825482 = 0x6CC: 0x0: 0x0.....................: Ok

Sectors are read through at random. Their total number is about 1000. Content of all is FFh. It means that there is already no information on the storage disc. Its recovery is impossible. Taking into consideration the aforesaid it is possible to make the following conclusion:

As a result of extraneous intervention the user information is irrevocably deleted from the hard disk. Why could it occur? The arising conclusion, obvious to an expert is a real revelation for the majority of computer owners.

A computer owner very often makes no difference between hi-tech devices and a meat grinder or a refrigerator and believes that the cheaper recovery is the better. He calls to several companies offering services on information recovery or repair. The answer is that works can be done for scanty money (for example, $30) He gives a disc to the repairman. It is accepted for diagnostics. A smart data recovery expert recovers the information, deletes it irrevocably, breaks the disk, as he can, and then says that the given case costs more than thirty dollars. The amount is three hundred or five hundred. Sometimes it even reaches one thousand. Or even five thousand. The price limit depends only on the customer paying capacity and the lost information importance.

The client, deeply surprised, asks the reason of the price growth. Actually the answer is of no importance. The customer is never told truth. The right answer must be as follows: you are a duffer and we are cheating you. Either you pay the amount told or get out of here.

The client usually says that he can get the work done at another company. He remembers that it always helped (for example, with a broken meat grinder). Hiding a mischievous grin in moustache, a fraud answers: "Yes, take it for the sake of all Greek gods".

HDD is brought to another company. In this case it was sent to me from Krasnodar. It is clear as day that neither I, nor someone else can get any information as it is deleted. It may turn out a surprise for a victim that a HDD is more complex than a meat grinder, a refrigerator and even a car. Not every expert is capable to understand this or that problem, and if your disk looks new it does not mean that the work is easy.

Having knocked about different companies, the customer comes back to the first repairman. The deification comes. The customer is solemnly told that the old offer term is over, as the disc has been given to other workshops, the recovery work has become more complicated and now it is necessary to pay more. It is a double price. Well, or treble, it depends. The end.

Not so long ago in the closed forum where date recovery experts from different cities of the former USSR communicate, they told story of one client who had addressed the Ontrack well-known company. Repairmen gave him back a completely notched HDD with the conclusion, that they could recover about 98 % of the information. It was not difficult, if the information had been carefully copied to the data server before scratching the HDD.

I cannot say that in case with the described Krasnodar disc recovery everything happened exactly as described as the disk could be simply spoiled by unskilled worker and information was lost because of ignorance, but on the whole, the Оckama law works, and the most obvious explanation is the answer. And in this case the most obvious malicious intention is to get as much money from the customer as possible.

How can one be protected of similar cases? Just address to proved experts. As for me, you can find the list of people with their contact data from the most different cities in the site section "Partners" which is constantly growing. All of them addressed for my help to recover information before they became my representatives. And each of them can confirm that I carry out all arrangements religiously. The service cost never overgrows preliminary specified limits.

The customer from Krasnodar paid work on the information recovery and asked for my conclusion in that case. My article is written as support to the basic conclusion given out in writing on the company headed note-paper and certified by our seal.

Write a comment
18 march 2009, 08:27

Nice articles. The English translation is sometimes a little strange, but is understandable for people who are familar with disk repair topics. Even you humour translates ok ! One begging question: Could you be so kind as to explain exactly what 'Age' refers to in the terminal output, and when other forums talk about setting the Age (somehow) Thanks

18 march 2009, 17:43

Interesting Eglish translation "combination of the foodstuff produced on the basis of curtailed milk, and devices for catching small rodents" = cheese / mousetrap

19 march 2009, 02:00

Update to last message cheese / mousetrap = putting cheese in the mousetrap to trap someone In England we call this technique "Bait and switch" -- offer something cheap but then it is unexpectelt unavailble and have to take something more expensive. Often used by less honest salesmen and builders etc

17 september 2012, 03:01

Many Toshiba laptops come with the farcoty software recovery image stored in a special (hidden) area on the hard disk. From this special hidden image, you can restore your computer to its farcoty-fresh software condition by following these steps:To restore the original farcoty software image on your computer follow these steps:1.Make sure the computer is turned off ( Shut-down from the Windows Start menu)2.Remove any peripherals such an external mouse, keyboard, monitor, USB flash drive etc.3.Make sure the AC Adapter is plugged in and working.4.Press and hold down the 0 (zero) key on the keyboard while powering on the computer. Release it when the recovery warning screen appears.5.If the recovery process offers a choice of Operating Systems, select the appropriate one for you.6.A warning screen appears, stating that when the recovery is executed all data will be deleted and rewritten.7.Click Yes to continue.8.When the Toshiba Recovery Wizard opens select Recovery of Factory Software or the appropriate option for your needs.9.Continue to follow the directions restarting as necessary.Please note that the process may vary slightly from machine to machine, that you may be asked to insert disks (multi-disk packages) and that the process may take one to two hours to complete. The recovery process will require you to restart your computer several times.As you use the recovery process you will have several options. One of these may be to create a custom size partition. Follow the directions on screen for this and other options as prompted. When in doubt, it's usually best to accept the default, or pre-selected option.