Hard Drive Failure And The Costs Of Recovery – Important Reminder!

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31/03/2008 – Hard Drive Failure And The Costs Of Recovery – Important Reminder!

This post has nothing to do with travel it has to do with backing up your data on a regular schedule.

I thought I had learned my lesson a year ago when a hard drive failed. I had my hard drive shipped off to Drive Savers for data recovery, it was well over $2,000, but I needed the data from my Apple 15″ PowerBook. From then on I backed my data up on hard drives, but apparently not often enough. Saturday morning while working on some files my Apple 13″ MacBook failed, it seemed like a logic board problem, covered under warranty, but it turns out that this is actually a hard drive failure. No computer manufacturer covers data under their warranty.

This morning my computer shop asked me if I had critical data on the hard drive and unfortunately the answer to that question is yes. There were a few folders of critical data, approximately 25gb of data not yet backed up, that are on the hard drive. It is not because I don’t back up, I just hadn’t backed this data up yet. I had been working an a schedule of about every two weeks, but in that two week period I loaded data onto the computer that needs to be delivered to clients.

The cost of data recovery? US$2,700 for a 160gb hard drive. As my MacBook is still under warranty, the drive has to go to Drive Savers for data recovery, otherwise I void the warranty (and from doing some research Drive Savers is one of the most reliable companies out there doing data recovery). Turn around time is 5-7 days, but of course I need to come up with the US$2700 for data recovery!

What about the MacBook? I can’t have it back until Drive Savers recovers the data and returns the dead drive back to my shop, so they can then first send it to Apple for warranty replacement.

$2700 is not cheap, not something I planned on in my budget (especially with three kids, two still using diapers) and not easily dealt with, however the cost of losing the data is significantly greater than the the cost to recover.

If you have a MacBook you need to click here “www.harddrivesdie.com” There is a specific Seagate hard drive Apple installed in many MacBook. This drive has a fatal flaw, when it crashes it scratches the data platters making your data totally unrecoverable! To see if you have this drive click this link:

What is the point of all this?


Two weeks seemed like a good schedule for me, but my first purchase after get the data recovered from this failed hard drive is an Apple Time Capsule, or something similar, that can be set to schedule daily back ups. Come home, put the computer down and have it back up while I am sleeping.

(If you feel like supporting the “Get My Data Back Fund,” feel free to donate to paypal@fishfoto.com :0) )



  1. Ah sorry to hear that – that blows. For whats it worth, I just picked up a 500g external drive from Costco for $120 and I run time machine with it and it works great on my iMac.

    Good luck…

  2. Steven, sorry to hear about your data loss. Since you’re all into Mac, I have a suggestion.

    Get OS X Leopard and buy an external 2.5″ HDD. They run without a power adapter, directly powered by the USB bus. Buy at least a size equal to your internal drive size and make Leopard’s Time Machine backup on that drive. This enables you to recover your system even while travelling – replacing a MacBook HDD on the road is totally possible without a technician and the drives are widely available. All you would need to do is to replace the internal drive, insert the Leopard DVD and connect the backup drive. This way, the system reinstalls including the previously installed software, all files, emails, etc.. You are back and running in under three hours. This solution is totally mobile too. A time-capsule isn’t something I would take on the road with me.

    Or get one of those external battery powered HDDs with an integrated card-reader. So you can backup at least your memory cards on the go.

    Two weeks ago, my internal MacBook Pro drive failed on me. After the internal drive has been replaced, Time Machine got me my files back and I only lost a half-day of working-time, but not a single file.

  3. Fish..been stalking your blog for a few months now, and I really appreciate you sharing all your knowledge. After all, its useless unless shared.

    With that….my hd just failed too. Except…thank goodness for PPA. Cost me $200 for them to save the data, as opposed to $2700.

    Tough break.

  4. I feel your pain. I had a 500gb drive die on me last year…and I had slipped on my backup procedures. I had used my portable drive to backup another machine I was reformatting and never put it back on my main PC. Well, one day decided that I should start my backups again…oops…drive failed halfway thru the backup. 🙁 Tried 2 different recovery services (including Seagates own) and they could not reliable recover the data (though they tried for several weeks). In the end, only cost me shipping costs…but the big cost was the lose of a lot of images I had taken over the last couple months. I did manage to recover about 80-85% from backups and other sources, but the frustration and heartache was horrible. I now backup up all data to two 160gb portables and a 1TB Teraserver regularly.

  5. Fish,

    I feel your pain. I had some troubles a few months back. I just checked my drive and it seems I have one of those effected/bad drives. So what is next? Is Apple replacing them? Any call back?

  6. We recently purchased the Time Capsule, since it was able to fill two needs at once for a reasonable price – totally worth it! The only thing I don’t like is that I have to use the TC for backup/hard-drive-saving purposes only, because it is so slow going to access the data. For stuff I want ready access to (that I don’t store on my HD because it’s slowing my computer down), I’ve also connected another EHD directly to my iMac. But for those who just want it to back up every so often at night or while they’re gone, its perfect. 🙂

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