Calling all computer geeks

Folks, I dropped my WD portable hard drive. It’s not spinning properly. Best Buy’s Geek Squad thinks it’s pretty much done unless I want to spend over $1500.

I can pretty much recover the data I need for work, but I’m going to lose all of the photos I took since last June, since I’ve been lax transferring them to CDs. That means all of my final Tig photos are gone.

Is there anyone out there who knows of a good data recovery place that might be able to pull the data off for less than I’ve been quoted?

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13 Responses to Calling all computer geeks

  1. Do you have a friend with a Mac? Seriously, I’ve seen bad USB drives (ones that do nothing but make clicking noises on Windows PCs) mount on Mac desktops. (This is from personal experience over this past weekend.) Even if it only lasts for a few hours, you’ll be able to get your files off.

    If that doesn’t work, then I’m afraid recovery is going to be expensive. I don’t know of any cheap place that does this sort of thing.

  2. One more comment. Although I’ve never used them myself, I’ve read many good reports about a recovery firm named Drive Savers:

    You might want to call for an estimate to see if it’s any less expensive than what Best Buy quoted.

  3. David, the folks at said the heads are damaged, and that plugging it into a Mac won’t undo the damage. So much for that theory.

    It’s not spinning. It tries about five times and then it stops. And they want about the same amount for my data.

    You know, I loved my Tig, but his last few months of pictures aren’t worth $1500.

  4. jja says:

    All of the last-ditch drive recovery places are expensive. My advice at this point is to put the drive aside, provided that there’s nothing on it that you need immediately. As long as no power is going to it, it can’t suffer more damage. The recovery costs compared to the value of the Tig pics may one day be more reasonable to you.

    You could also ship the drive to me, or drop it off next time you’re in NJ. It’s just possible that it’s something I can handle.

  5. cliff from montreal says:

    Hi Meryl,

    Check out Spinrite by Steve Gibson.
    GRC | SpinRite 5.0 to 6.0

    Good luck.

  6. Thanks. It’s hardware, though. The drive isn’t spinning.

    Jay, I think I’ll ship it to you or bring it with me next time I visit NJ, which I hope will be soon.

    The real killer is that I was going to copy over the files to another drive this weekend, and I forgot.

    I feel so crappy tonight. I hate stupid mistakes like this.

  7. jja says:

    Cliff: I have Spinrite, and I will use it on the drive if its use is indicated. As Meryl observed, Spinrite can’t help a drive that won’t spin up.

    Meryl: Please don’t be hard on yourself. Everyone who works with computers has done something like this at some time or another, myself included.

  8. Meryl, a long time ago, a bright 16-year-old high school student came to work in my veterinary practice. She turned out to be one of the finest assistants I ever had during my entire career, and ended up following in my footsteps and becoming a veterinarian herself. Being only human, though, every so often, she would make a mistake. On such occasions, she’d usually say “Pobody’s nerfect!”

    You might just take her words to heart. After all, you, too, are only human. You certainly didn’t do it on purpose.

  9. Russ says:

    At least the ones you posted on your site are still available.

  10. cem says:

    I gather there are or may be 2 issues. (1)Head damage, as distinct from head crash resting on the platter.
    (2) Failure to spin.

    Possibly the situation is the classic head crash with damage to the platter coating?

    Failure to spin has sometimes for some people been helped by freezing the drive – cold soak or C02 fire extinguisher – such that dimensional changes allow the platter to spin momentarily. This has sometimes some places allowed some people to recover a few more files with no particular downside.

    Freezing has often worked for no spin as can be found googling.

    Nothing I know of works for head’s that won’t read except clean room data recovery by removing the platters.

  11. Randy says:

    CBL apparently has some kind of partnership with Western Digital. This page claims that there is a special rate for WD owners. I clicked through and they’re not cheap, but seem to be a lot less than a couple thousand. I don’t know anything about CBL, but they seem to be national or international. They spoke some time ago at the Capital PC Users Group in Washington. I don’t know if that’s an endorsement.

  12. Whoa. Randy, that last one is the best price I’ve found. I have a 146 gig drive, but the information is less than 100 gigs… I wonder if they’d let me go with the cheaper rate.

    If so, I know what I’m spending my govt. rebate on.

  13. Randy says:


    I’m not offering any guarantees about this outfit. I know nothing about them, though I did go to their website. I had searched the website for the user’s group,, to which I once belonged. I figured they might know some good outfits in the northern VA area, since you visit up here often.

    I then found this reference to them from the WD site.

    I also found a 10% off coupon somewhere for DriveSavers. I’ll either post or send it to you directly.

    Well, I didn’t find you a kitten (despite my best efforts) so maybe I’ll help you get the pics of Tig 2.0 back. I’m glad that you seem to have found a keeper in Tig 3.0.

    Imagine my surprise when I found out this evening that you’re friendly with Diedrich Epps’ mom. What a small world!

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