The Data Recovery Wall of Shame

This page is to demonstrate how important qualified data recovery work is and what damage can be done when someone attempts data recovery with no qualifications or the use of poor quality tools and equipment. Unfortunately we are updating this more regularly than we should.

the data recovery wall of shame

09Jul24 Another computer repair store opens a customers drive

Really people... We really need to tell people why you shouldn't open a hard drive? What do you think you are going to find inside a hard drive? What value do you think you are offering by opening a drive? Open a hard drive is very risky and only done in situations by professionals who have a reason to do so. Opening a hard drive for no reason but to look and confirm you have no idea what you are looking at is utter stupid. This poor hard drive requires a more expensive service because someone decided that opening it was a good idea. It was completely unecessary and all it has done in mis align the z aix of the heads and add contaimenents to the drive making the problem worse.

wall of shame hard drive wd black opened damaging inside

03May24 Stevie Wonder tried to solder this USB connector back on

The customer of this hard drive said he used a Brisbane city drop off location for a website which claimed 5 years of experience in data recovery. The company uses a drop off location and then sends the drive to Springwood QLD for service. No price was quoted but the owner claimed they had the drive for 2 weeks and felt suspicious about the quality of workmanship he was receiving so he asked for it back where he brought it to us here at Zero Alpha.

It's immediately apparent to us when we encounter hard drives with damaged screws. Unfortunately, the lack of the correct screwdriver and the know-how to unscrew a screw is a common early warning sign of unprofessional workmanship. Look at the screw in the photo, its all scratched up and the metal is damaged. This is an immediate red flag of incompetence.

The lesson from this is that anyone can be who ever they want on the internet. It takes less than 5 minutes to setup a professional website to be an expert in data recovery or whatever anyone wants to be. This data recovery website can't even open screws correctly.

 Toshiba hard drive screw damaged from incorrect screw driver data recovery

They spent 2 weeks trying to solder this connector back on. This is a simple job for a professional. We have a video on our youtube channel to show anyone how its meant to be done properly. The pins aren't even touching the pads. How can anyone get data back off this drive if they can't solder the pins back on. To the right are damaged electronic components. They are damaged and cracked off when they should never have been touched.

 Hard drive USB connector not soldered correctly, data recovery with damaged SMD

08Feb24 RIP Seagate 2.5" PATA drive full of dust and fingerprints

Look what rolled into the shop. I'm sorry to say but this poor little hard drive got completely butchered by a computer shop. The seals were taken off and the drive must of been left in a very dirty business premises because it was full of dust and fingerprints. Its hard to know what the original problem ever was when someone decides to mask the original problem with complete destruction. We can usually tell by the way screws are removed if its a professional or just some random attempt to do everything wrong. Hard drives should only be opened by a professional and its always a last resort to solve an internal problem.

seagate pata 2.5 inch hdd full of dust and fingerprints

07Feb24 Never open your hard drive!

This poor little hard drive suffered from a storm power surge which is very easy to recover from but unfortunately the owner decided to give it to his friend who opened the drive and destroyed the internal components. It makes no sense to do this. If you want to open a drive and play around with the delicate and intricate internal components then you should just buy a new drive to tinker away with your ignorance. But someones hard drive with important data? No never do this. Opening a hard drive is for experienced professionals only and was never necessary for a drive that has electrical storm problems.

wall of shame data recovery toshiba-usb drive opened and damaged inside

26Sep23 WTF Seagate ROM Chip Erased and put back on hard drive

This hard drive was damaged by a Melbourne computer shop. They have removed the bios chip from the pcb and erased it then soldered it back onto the drive. This is a big wtf moment here at the office. This is what happens when someone buys a chip programmer but doesn't understand the risks and consequences of harnessing such power. The owner of this hard drive will not get any data back because its unique firmware has been erased. In our 20 year existence we have never seen anyone do this before. They have literally destroyed all hope of data recovery for the owner.

seagate rom chip erased and blanked out on pcb data recovery

18Sep23 Seagate 7200.7 Platter damaged with scratches, fingerprints and cleanup attempt

This hard drive was sent to us from a computer shop who told us it had been opened for inspection only. Under microscope a complete different story is told. You can see platter damage done from some kind of do it yourself data recovery attempt. Fingerprints are spawned all over the components and smudges left from a cleanup attempt. If you look at the photo, the platter should be 100% clean from any artifacts.

diy data recovery platter damage including fingerprints, smudges and scratches

28Jul23 Seagate PCB modified poorly, for incorrect reason disabling customers hdd

This customer said the hard drive was taken to a local computer shop in Sydney. We we're getting weird readouts from out analysis software. Seagate diagnostic software reported possible pcb tampering. After we inspected the pcb it was clear that somebody has been playing with the important bios chip. If this chip gets damaged then its game over for data recovery. Therefore it should only be touch like this if backed up via software first and its necessary to physically alter it. Which was not the case at all for this job. Its possible that someone found a stupid piece of advice online and decided to experiment with it. We we're able to recover the data from this drive but this damage caused unecessary extra work on the job.

seagate bios chip removed incorrectly showing damage to pcb and scratches

25Jul23 Hitachi laptop drive missing head connection seal after being quoted $1700

The customer reported that this drive was taken to a data recovery business first in Everton Park Qld where the customer was told they can't recover it and advised to take it to another data recovery company in West End, Brisbane, Queensland. They were quoted $1700. This job was brought to Zero Alpha, resulting in a saving of $700. During the technical inspection, we noticed that the drive had a void sticker with "Ontrack" printed on it, covering the main head axis screw. There were hand-drawn black marker pen crosses on the internal parts. This hard drive makes it to the wall of shame because the head connector was missing the sealing gasket. I would guess that, because the client declined the expensive service, a technician has likely reassembled the hard drive without proper due care and missed this critical and important part. A highly skilled and experienced technician knows to look for small details like this. Not correctly installing this seal can cause problems.

hitachi hard drive with warranty void ontrack sticker data recovery missing seal

All though Zero Alpha was able to recover all the data the job was made more difficult and expensive than it should of been because of the unprofessional work carried out on it. Here is another photo of the same head assembly with a physical head cut from it. Which we only usually see from inexperienced and unqualified technicians.

head physically cut from hard drive possible bad head

The bottom circle shows that one head has been physically cut from a head assembly that usually has 4 heads. Because this has been to two different companies it would be hard to know which company did what service. The top right circle shows the same cross referencing that its the same parts.

23Jun23 Toshiba usb hard drive shield seal removed and left open

The customer reported that this drive had been taken to a business in Everton Park. Why on earth would anyone remove a seal and leave it exposed? An unqualified technician probably thought that a screw was underneath and decided to leave someone's important hard drive exposed like this. It is now too late to keep the inside of this drive clean from contaminants. The drive was tested and found to be in the worst-case scenario with the click of death. Who knows if correct procedures were followed at all, and whether this drive was unnecessarily opened, causing significant damage and risking data recovery.

toshiba usb mq01ubd100 seal removed