Archive for the ‘General’ Category

YES we can recover your data, even if others can’t!

Friday, January 16th, 2015

As a member of a worldwide consortium called the TSC or Technical Services Consortium, we are part of a family of companies that offer many of the same services, but in different geographical areas. Because we are not competing with each other, we have developed some amazing business relationships with folks that would normally be our competitors. This has allowed us to gain knowledge in areas where we were weak and to share knowledge where we are strong. As the only member of the consortium offering data recovery services, we often get called in to help with data loss situations.

Recently one of our TSC partners in the Netherlands, Sprague Europe, was approached by a well-known University in Germany.  The University had had a catastrophic failure with a small RAID 5 server and the hard work of hundreds of students was in jeopardy. RAID server data recovery

Initially the University had contacted a well-respected but smaller data recovery company to help. They were able to image one of the 3 drives used in the RAID 5 array, but unfortunately, all attempts at resurrecting either of the remaining two drives was met with failure.

With RAID 5 and it’s built in redundancy, we only needed to image one of the two non-responsive drives to be able to rebuild the RAID. Both drives had developed light rings on their disks and the heads were physically destroyed by travelling over the damaged areas and had become stuck in the head loader ramps. With each recovery attempt, these rings would increase in depth and width, and soon no recovery would be possible.  The smaller data recovery company had exhausted their supply of parts drives and realizing the chances for success were decreasing with each attempt, they advised the University to send it to the largest data recovery company in the world for the best chance. Fortunately they had a branch in Germany and off the case went.

But again, all attempts to recover the data were met with failure and the University was almost ready to concede defeat. But as luck would have it, the head of the University’s Computer Centre was an old colleague with one of our friends at Sprague and in a last ditch effort he called Sprague for advice. Our friend at Sprague suggested Memofix “may” be able to help.

Unlike most data recovery service providers, Memofix does not charge an extra fee for working on hard drives that have been previously worked on by other data recovery companies. In fact we cherish those data recovery cases because it gives us a chance to show just how good we are. Over the years we have recovered approximately 70% of the recoveries that have been previously attempted by our competitors.

western digital data recoveryWhen I first saw the request and the summary of what had been attempted, I was skeptical if we could do any better than the two professional data recovery companies that had already tried, especially when one of them was a “world leader” in data recovery and cost did not appear to be a constraint. I spoke with the original data recovery company that tried the 1st attempts. They told me that both defective drives had heads that were bent, distorted, and stuck in the head ramp loaders. They also told me that they had gotten both defective hard drives to function for a very short period of time after replacing the head assembly.  Things were looking a little more promising.

When it comes to recovering data, there is one MAJOR factor that influences the chance of recovering data and that is the condition of the disks. If the disks are in good shape, a recovery is usually going to be possible.  If the disks are badly scored and ringed, then it will be next to impossible to get a set of heads to function inside the drive without damaging them almost instantaneously. For a disk to get that badly damaged usually means the drive has been running/spinning in a crashed state for a long time. The fact that these drives had their heads stuck in the loading ramps is good news, as they could no longer damage the disks. The second fact that made us hopeful was that the drives were manufactured by Western Digital and Memofix has one of the best Western Digital data recovery techs that we have ever met and we do know a lot of data recovery techs.

So we decided that we may have a chance of successfully recovering at least some of the data and consequently the case was sent to us for a final data recovery attempt.

Our initial evaluation confirmed that we would need to get one of two defective drives imaged. After much scrutiny it was determined that one of the defective drives had shifted disks. When heads are replaced, there is a procedure for adjusting the disks which can sometimes help in getting access to a non-responsive hard drive. I suspect one of the data recovery service providers had attempted this procedure or something similar. This procedure can sometimes make things worse, so we decided to concentrate on the more pristine of the two drives.

Our Western Digital data recovery specialist got right to work. His first task was to get the drive functional enough to read off the drives system area, a normally inaccessible storage area on the drive used for its own housekeeping and the storing of drive specific settings. The system area tells the drive how many heads are present and what settings to use with each head. Without this road-map, recovery may not be possible.

bent heads comparison

Bent Heads vs Good Heads

We quickly determined that two of the disk surfaces had physical damage and we would worry about those surfaces last.  Modifying the system area allowed us to configure the drive to ignore the 2 damaged heads/surfaces. We then physically removed the 2 heads (corresponding to the damaged surfaces) from a good parts head stack. This would prevent further damage to those disk surfaces as well as preventing read interference from the heads going over the damaged areas. We then used this head assembly to get the drive to initialize and we started to image off the good surfaces.  After approximately 20 hours of imaging, the heads assembly became too contaminated with crash debris to function and we had to modify a new set of heads to continue. After two days we had managed to image 6 of the 8 disk surfaces. We were now ready to go after the two damaged disk surfaces.

At this stage, our greatest danger was the inherent risk of developing new crashes & destroying our chances of imaging off the last two disk surfaces. Consequently, the drive was imaged only while it could be monitored by a dedicated human watching and listening for any potential new crashes. Imaging of these last two surfaces took almost a week and in the process we consumed five sets of heads and still had some areas where nothing could be read because of the damage to the hard drives’ disks.

With the best drive images we could obtain, we began to analyze what we had. Once we determined the correct RAID 5  configuration settings we were able to use the RAID’s parity to virtually rebuild the missing disk and to de-stripe the 3 drive RAID 5 volume onto a single drive. Then it was a matter of repairing some minor file system structure damage, mounting up the volume, and copying the data to a new target hard drive.

In the end, we were able to recover over 99% of all the students’ data. But there wouldn’t have been any data recovery had it not been for one individual at the University refusing to take NO for an answer.

Consequently, I think the real takeaway point, has to be the fact that not all data recovery companies have the same abilities and just because the world’s largest data recovery company says it can’t be done, doesn’t mean Memofix, the world’s most determined data recovery company, can’t prove them wrong.

We are Memofix, and YES we can recover your data, even if others can’t!

Deleted SSD Files … Gone Forever?

Thursday, July 10th, 2014

It wasn’t long after the introduction of the PC that computer enthusiasts figured out that if you deleted a file on your hard drive, it could generally still be recovered. This was possible because deleting a file only deleted its index entry while the file itself remained intact and undamaged. Armed with this knowledge, many IT professionals rescued deleted files and won the accolades of their panicked customers in the process. But the rules have changed with the modern SSD or Solid State Drive and in most cases, if a file is deleted from an SSD, the file is deleted forever!

data recovery Ontario
To understand why, it helps to understand a little more about SSDs.

Unlike a hard drive which can simply write over existing data, an SSD must 1st erase existing data before it can write new data. The process of erasing a data block is very slow in comparison to writing or reading a data block, and as a result 1st generation SSDs became considerably slower over time.  To address this concern, newer SSDs started preemptively erasing recently freed blocks during their idle time. This process is referred to as garbage collection and is found in all current SSDs.

However, initially SSDs did not understand or communicate with operating systems like Windows, consequently when Windows deleted a file and marked the space as free for re-use, the SSD knew nothing about it. As far as the SSD was concerned, this space was written to and was thus in-use. To overcome this build-up of unknown and thus unavailable space, SSD manufacturers introduced a feature called TRIM. TRIM allows the operating system to communicate and inform the SSD of free data blocks as they become available. The SSD will then add these blocks to its list of blocks to be preemptively erased. Unfortunately in the real world, these blocks are erased and prepared for re-use almost immediately. Consequently, a deleted file is now totally unrecoverable within moments of being deleted.

Even if you do a quick format on an SSD, the data will be gone almost instantaneously and forever!  Previously with hard drives, it was still possible to recover the original data files even if you formatted your hard drive. See our Recovering Data After a Format blog post for more information on that topic.

There are exceptions where deleted SSD data can still be recovered. This is usually because the SSD, operating system or storage configuration does not support TRIM. Below are some examples where TRIM is not supported and hence, deleted files may still be recoverable:

  • Using an older 1st generation SSD or Solid State Drive
  • Running Windows versions before Vista and MAC OSX versions prior to 10.6.8
  • Using an SSDs inside an external USB or Firewire enclosures, and most NAS boxes.
  • File system has become corrupted and the volume is no longer recognized or accessible.
  • SSD formatted with FAT16 or FAT32
  • PCI Express SSDs generally do not support TRIM
  • Encrypted volumes do not usually support TRIM
  • SSD RAID arrays do not typically support TRIM.

Solid Sate Drives are becoming much more common as the prices comes down and their benefits become apparent, but as always, there are tradeoffs, and understanding the implications is always important. If we can help resolve your data loss situation or if you just want a second opinion, please don’t hesitate to contact us at 1-800-MEMOFIX  or


Top 3 Reasons to Avoid Data Protection Plans!

Tuesday, May 13th, 2014

Recently, another hard drive manufacture announced they would begin offering a data protection plan in the United States and  in Canada. The program is simple enough: if you lose your data from an enrolled hard drive within the 2 or 3 year term, the hard drive manufacture will use reasonable efforts to attempt to recover your data. Costs for the plan in Canada range from $40 to $90 depending on the type of hard drive and the number of years of coverage. This is not a new concept, similar data protection plans have existed for over 10 years.

data recovery insurance

So what’s wrong with these plans? … I am NOT a fan of data protection plans for 3 important reasons:

1. False sense of Security: Let’s start by looking at the basic concept of data protection plans and what they offer. While called a data protection plan, there really is no plan to protect your data! The plan is once your data is damaged or lost the plan provider will see IF they can recover it. The fact that it may not be recoverable is buried in the terms and conditions. Many people will miss this important point buried in the fine print and walk away with a false sense of security that their data is safe. As a result, many people may feel they can bypass backing up their data and this is the real danger. People WILL lose their data!

 2. Oops we can’t help you, here’s your money back: These protection plans take your money to protect your data. Then when the time comes to perform and it’s discovered the data is not recoverable “using reasonable means”, they simply refund you initial premium. With most insurance policies if they cannot fix your car, they pay you its value. What’s the value of your data? Imagine you’re in a car accident with your brand new car and your insurance company decides to return your 2 months of premiums versus fixing your car. To add further insult to injury, some data protection plans reserve the right to refund your plan fee in the form of a Gift Card.  Oh Yippy!

3. Are you getting the best effort?:  Attempting data recovery is often very expensive. For example, to attempt to recover the data from a 3TB external hard drive that’s been dropped, will typically require 1-3 new parts drives and a week or more of computer time to image the hard drive. I believe a technician encountering this situation may be prone to declare the case unrecoverable and simply refund the money versus spending hundreds of dollars on parts and investing a lot of time for a chance to recover the data. What real incentive is there for the data recovery company to spend money and try to recover your data? Now, if there was a large payout of perhaps 5,000 dollars if they could NOT recover the data, then I would believe there would be an incentive to recover the data. For this reason in particular, I believe that an independent data recovery service will try much harder and be much more successful in recovering your data because they have a huge incentive as they won’t get paid unless they are successful.

So, if you find yourself being pressured to enroll in a ”data protection plan” be sure to consider all the facts and don’t be lulled into a false sense of security by a clever marketing program.  If you’ve encountered a data loss situation and your company can’t live without the data, do your due diligence and entrust your data recovery to a professional data recovery service.



Click here for a Free Data Recovery Quote  whether you’re in Toronto, Hamilton, Mississauga, Ottawa, Brampton, Markham, London, Kitchener, Windsor, Burlington, Sudbury, Kingston, Oshawa, Barrie or Thunder Bay.

CryptoLocker holding your Data hostage?

Friday, April 25th, 2014

If you haven’t heard of the CryptoLocker virus then you really should read on. This rather nasty virus is usually acquired by opening an email attachment which then embeds it’s secret code deep inside your computer. It then starts to silently encrypt ALL your data files including but not limitied to pictures, word documents, spreadsheets, pdf, emails etc. The virus encrypts your files using a virtually unbreakable RSA encryption algorithm and then demands a ransom of $100 to $500 USD in exchange for decrypting your files. Furthermore, if you don’t pay by a strict time limit, they permanently throw away the decryption key.

After the initial data encryption on your system hard drive, the virus searches out and encrypts data files on ANY online storage device, whether that is a powered on external hard drive, a USB stick, a NAS or network attached storage device, or heaven forbidden every shared folder on a network.

The first indication you are infected, is when you are greeted with a popup ransom note similar to the one displayed below. To do the most damage, the ransom note doesn’t appear until the encryption has completed, which can be anywhere from a few hours to a few days depending on how much data the virus has access to.



This particular virus has been around for a few years  and appears to becoming even more rampant, to the point that copycat viruses are now popping up. We have received numerous enquiries for assistance in recovering the data, but I’m sorry to say we can’t help other than to offer advice.

The good news is that the virus can be kept at bay by any user who is very vigilant about not opening any email attachments unless they are known to be 100% safe and from a trusted source. The best advice we can give is to suggest everyone keep a backup of your data on an offline or powered off external hard drive. That way nothing can touch it.

The bad news is that once you are infected, there is NO way to decrypt the data without the decryption key.  Even with present computing speeds, brute force methods would take over 1000 years to crack it.

Unfortunately, and against any moral compass, we would recommend that you pay the ransom and hope the kidnappers will be honorable enough to decrypt your data. We have heard and read stories on the web of people paying the ransom and getting their data decrypted successfully. But unfortunately, we have also heard stories of people paying the ransom and getting nothing.

If you have had any experience with this virus, please comment and share your knowledge with all our readers.

MacBook Air SSD Failures

Wednesday, March 19th, 2014

SSD removed from a MacBook Air

Over the last 5-6 months we’ve received an influx of inaccessible Solid State Drives (SSD)  from MacBook Air laptops. Apparently Apple is aware of this problem and they are replacing them under warranty. The laptops effected were sold between June 2012 and June 2013.

Once removed, these SSDs are easily identified by the large “Toshiba” controller chip residing on the left side of the SSD as shown in the picture below.  However Apple considers the removal as something not do-able in the field. For information on their replacement program, please visit this link MAC SSD replacement.

As for data recovery from these units, you had better get your wallet out. Typical costs for us to recover your data  range from $2000-2500. Costs could be even higher depending on the nature of the data required, and due to the complexity of these recoveries we typically require 3 weeks or even more. We are getting faster but the rebuilding of SSD devices is very labor intensive.

If you have one of these Solid State Drives in your system, we suggest you keep all  your important data backed up to at least one additional storage device or hard drive.


Hard Drive ECC Errors!

Thursday, January 16th, 2014

Recovering data, whether it’s important engineering data for a Hydro Electric company or the family pictures for a young family, is very rewarding on a personal level. Of course there is the enjoyment of helping someone in need. But the real reward for a good data recovery technician comes from the satisfaction of solving problems others can’t.

However, not all data recovery cases are solvable and that’s hard for my techs and our clients to hear. One of the most frustrating data recovery scenarios involves uncorrectable read errors. We see a lot of these cases.

In this typical scenario we receive a small 2.5” laptop hard drive for data recovery. We evaluate the hard drive and deem it functional enough to start creating a sector by sector image. But as we image off the drive it encounters more and more Error Check & Correction or ECC errors; to the point that there is at least one unreadable sector for every 5000 sectors we read. When a disk drive encounters a read error it will attempt to read the same sector at least 10 times. This slows the imaging process to a crawl and as a result it’s not uncommon for the imaging to take months to complete. Besides the time delay, the image is also riddled with unreadable sectors located randomly across the entire data area and in close proximity to each other, making it difficult to find large contiguous blocks of error free data. This means many larger files may be damaged beyond being use-able and often the majority of the good data will be restricted to smaller sized files. Depending on the size of the files the client needs, this may be acceptable or not.

What is most frustrating is the fact that there is little that can be done. These errors are the result of data not being written properly to the drive in the first place. Bad in equals bad out!

It helps to understand where these errors are triggered. When a hard drive reads a sector of data, it also reads a 50 byte ECC code that resides just after the real data. When the data was 1st written to the sector it ran a sophisticated algorithm on the 512 bytes of sector data and this resulted in a unique ECC code which can only be replicated by reading the exact same data. When a sector is read later, the drive attempts to validate the data by running the same algorithm on the data and comparing it to the previously stored ECC code. If the code doesn’t match, the disk drive produces an error code and prevents the transfer of the data. The hard drive will normally attempt to re-read the data up to 10 times as it tries to match the ECC code and this process slows the drive down considerably.

With our hard drive expertise we are able to disable the retries and other housekeeping chores that slow the drive down.  But even with these shortcuts, it is not uncommon for hard drives with this problem to take weeks or even 2-3 months to completely read off every readable sector, especially if the drive is 1TB or larger.

We do have the capability to use special read commands to bypass the ECC error checking but the data is usually garbage or at the very least, it can never be trusted 100%. We will do this for a few key sectors of data  if the situation warrants it.

So what cause these ECC errors to proliferate? ECC errors can be the result of many different causes.

If a weak head is having problems writing data, ECC errors can often be created. The head appears to be stable when it writes the data and even passes the ECC check initially. But when it attempts to read the same sector later the ECC check fails and the request is aborted.

lf a hard drive is running under extreme heat conditions, for example if a laptop gets extremely hot while you are working from home by the swimming pool, the hard drive which is a mechanical device made of many sorts of metals will expand. Writing data while the drive is in this state may cause problems later when trying to read the drive in a cooled down state as the positioning will affected ever so slightly. This shouldn’t normally cause problems but extremes of operability are always unpredictable.

BUT the number one reason for the proliferation of ECC errors in our opinion is a bad memory chip whether on the hard drive or more likely inside the desktop or laptop.

If your storage device is riddled in read errors, we can help and are usually successful in recovering the majority of a user’s data. Costs for these types of cases are typically in the $400-700 range depending on the severity of the errors and the capacity of your hard drive.  Please give us a call today to discuss your data loss situation.

Emergency RAID & Server Data Recovery (647) 448-5302

Monday, December 23rd, 2013

During the holidays many companies use the down time as an opportunity to update and perform maintenance on their data servers and RAID boxes.  This is also a crucial time for data loss to occur, and a time where caution and safety should be of the utmost importance.

At Memofix, we understand that mistakes can happen, hard drives can crash, and servers do become corrupt, so we want you to know, whether you’re in Toronto or anywhere in Canada, we are ready and able to help 24-7, 365 days of the year. If you face a serious data loss & need our emergency data recovery services to ensure your business is back up as soon as possible, please call or text David Foster @ (647) 448-5302 to discuss your situation and how we can help … any time any day.

Happy Holidays to All!  … from David Foster & my amazing team at Memofix Data Recovery


What is a CRASHED hard drive?

Thursday, December 12th, 2013

We hear the words “my hard drive has crashed” at least a hundred times a month and yet it is seldom what we discover when we open the lid of someones “crashed” hard drive. The picture below shows two Seagate 500 GB hard drives we recently received for data recovery. Both drives were declared crashed by their owners!  However only one appears to be physically crashed.

data recovery toronto

The drive on the left is in pristine condition. The disks are extremely shiny and consistent across the entire surface of the disk surface. The clients problem was determined to be a bad PCB or printed circuit board.

The drive on the right is not so pristine and has physically CRASHED! The smooth shiny disk surface has been scored and ringed by constant contact with the heads while the disks were spinning. This amount of damage could only occur if the drive was left running for a long period after the initial contact damage. Click on the picture for a closer more shocking look.

The drive on the left should be recoverable. The drive on the right is NOT recoverable.

If you require a price estimate on our data recovery services,  follow this link for a quick reply … Canada’s Data Recovery Experts 

Toronto’s Weekend RAID Warriors

Sunday, October 20th, 2013


It was a beautiful Friday afternoon and the start of the long weekend was only hours away. The boys in the lab all had plans of some sort or another, but then Bob walked in. And RAID away I knew someone’s plans would be changing.

Bob Giannoulis, the head of our Client Services, had just spent the last 20 minutes discussing a huge data loss situation with a potential customer. The customer, one of North America’s largest providers of programmable digital mobile content, had lost a critical server. The live data content stored and constantly refreshed from a big old server was sitting in a huge data centre just a few kilometers from our lab. Their product was used by everyone from government and recreational complexes to big businesses and even Vegas casinos.

Unfortunately, most of these  clients had performance contracts which penalized any delay or loss of access to online content. Consequently, our client was under extreme stress as several of his larger clients were threatening to terminate their contracts or pursue legal actions or both.

The client was running a RAID 5 setup with 14 hard drives. On Wednesday evening during a thunderstorm the RAID server went down momentarily with a single failed hard drive, but thanks to the redundancy of RAID 5, the server recovered and continued to operate, albeit in a degraded and much slower state. An automatic email message informed our client’s IT people about their hard drive failure and the fact the spare drive was also down. Within an hour or two their tech arrived to replace the defective hard drive and start the 7-8 hour RAID rebuilding process.

After about an hour into the rebuild, things started to go bad! A 2nd hard drive began to physically crash and within minutes the rebuild was aborted in mid process. The IT technician, already driving home, gets a 2nd email message concerning the catastrophic failure of their RAID server and quickly returns to the data center.  The server is now totally down and none of their digital content servers can “call home”. No worries, he’ll just swap out the failed drive and re-start the rebuild process. But the rebuild apparently wouldn’t start, likely due to the fact there were now 2 disk drives down.  More hands are called in, and with sparse options they decide to restore a backup of the RAID server to a new set of drives and use one of these drives from the back up set to rebuild the downed RAID array. As Friday morning arrives, the IT teams latest attempts are deemed a failure and the pressure to get the server up is not letting up.

I think it’s worth noting that RAID of any type is NOT a replacement for a good backup. Yes the R in RAID stands for redundant but the redundancy is very delicate and often short lived. You see, the redundancy in RAID 5 is based on being able to replicate the data from ONE failed hard drive, but once one drive fails the odds greatly increase that a second drive will fail shortly after. It makes sense when you consider most RAID arrays are built with identical drives, bought on the same day from the same supplier. They are semi-clones of each other, so as a critical component begins to fail on one drive, it’s just as likely to begin to fail on another hard drive.  Add in the extra stress of rebuilding the complete array and it’s pretty clear that disaster is lurking just around the corner.

This is about the spot where Memofix Data Recovery Services comes back into the picture … just after 4pm on the Friday of the Canada Day long weekend a panic stricken gentlemen and a young nerdy guy walk into our facility and hand deliver their RAID server to us. They look tired, frazzled and beaten. This is our first challenge … to give them hope! We know if the data they need is still there, and if they didn’t do too much to the RAID array, we should be able to get it back! The client’s nerdy young guy is their lead IT tech and he’s mentally quick and thankfully possesses a solid memory of each step that was taken in their own efforts to resurrect the RAID server.  Our tech and the nerdy young guy are quickly sharing the details of the situation and it’s not long before our confidence and positivity lifts the spirits of our once saddened clients.  We are given the approval to do whatever we can to get their data back by Tuesday morning.

With no further ado, we are left alone in our lab to try and resurrect this fallen giant of a storage device. It consists of fourteen 300 GB SAS hard drives and a few extra hard drives still to be sorted out. As always, we began by creating duplicate images of all the working drives before turning our attention to the failed disk drives. Often when a RAID reports a hard drive being down or offline it’s not actually dead or defective, so we 1st diagnose the two drives to see if either is accessible. We are hoping if we can get just one of the two drives working we’ll be able to rebuild the RAID array.

Briefly applying power to the 1st drive initiates a horrible screeching noise that we’ve heard way too often. This drive is likely badly crashed and a quick inspection under class 100 cleanroom conditions reveals it to be true. There are a series of deep rings across the top disk surface and most likely similar damage below. This drive will not be recoverable. Yikes!

Diagnosing the second drive, we are relieved to find the drive in a functional state with no painful noises being heard. However, the drive has triggered its built-in SMART monitoring system to report problems but the drive is still accessible. We quickly determine the cause of the SMART errors is due to one of the heads being defective and unable to read. Inspecting the hard drive’s three disks under class 100 cleanroom conditions shows no visible or apparent disk damage and removing the heads and inspecting them under a microscope shows no damage as well. This is good.

Checking our database of parts drive shows we have 3 of these exact model drives to use for parts and it isn’t long before our best cleanroom technician has the drive happily but slowly  imaging along.  It’s almost 8pm now and the imaging will likely take 5-6 hours. We decide to use this time to fuel up on some food and get some rest. The plan is for our best RAID file system specialists to return to the lab on Saturday morning and assuming the imaging is complete, continue with the recovery.

Our tech arrives at 8:30 am and as expected all the imaging has completed. There are a few read errors on the drive that required new heads but otherwise everything looks good. Now the task is to determine the original RAID configuration such as the proper drive order, the stripe size and the parity scheme. Sometimes the configuration is easy to determine, but due to the repeated attempts to self-fix the array we have our work cut out for us. By 1 pm we are fairly certain we have the correct parameters and we attempt to mount the RAID array virtually. But something is not right and we spend another 4 hours before we successfully mount the RAID 5 array virtually.

With the RAID 5 array now properly setup, we can mount the clients DATA volume. But nothing is straight forward here and our attempts to copy off the data using the DATA volumes own NTFS file system prove futile, especially on many of the identified critical files. Our tech has spent the better part of the day working on the world’s biggest jigsaw puzzle and he’s getting mentally tired so we decide to call it quits for the day.

Sunday morning arrives and our RAID specialist digs into the new problem. There appears to have been some overwrite or corruption of the volume’s MFT or Master File Table which acts as an index pointing to the location of files. Again, several more hours are spent searching through the RAID array for matching fragments of the MFT that we can use to repair the damaged areas. We are successful in finding the final missing remnants buried deep within some temporary system files. The MFT is now repaired, the DATA volume mounted and the copying of the data begins. Our tech now heads home but continues to monitor the case remotely. The copy completes during the holiday Monday and he tests a large sample of the data and ensures it loads error free. We can now declare this successful and a quick call to the client has them meeting up with our tech at our lab to pick up the data.  If smiles were dollars we would be rich!

As a service provider of last resort, we tend to see the worst scenarios and this was no different. Nobody likes to call in outside help, especially if your reputation is built on data security and you have a potential data loss situation.   But if you find yourself in a similar situation do the right thing and bring in the professionals. At the very least we will stop any further damage by capturing protected  images of all the hard drives before any more modifications are made.

Memofix provides users with a 24-7-365 day cell number for contacting us off hours or on weekends. If disaster should strike you at an inopportune time please call me, David at (647) 448-5302 to arrange an emergency intervention.

* note: the actual business description has been misrepresented to protect our client’s identity

Kindness Changes Everything!

Tuesday, August 13th, 2013


Memofix was recently asked to help out a fellow Canadian who had lost the latest pictures of his deceased wife after his computer became submerged in the recent  Calgary and High River, Alberta floods. Memofix’s expertise with water damaged hard drives was invaluable in recovering the data and putting a smile on a saddened face.  Here’s a letter of appreciation we recently received for our gratuitous assistance. 

Despair to HOPE!

This is a story of how a few acts of kindness can build hope in a person’s life

My name is Rick Ellis and I am one of the thousands of displaced citizens of High River, AB after the floods of 2013 but I consider myself lucky to have met a few “angels” during the anguish of these times.

I lost my wife Chris AKA Princess on the 14th of June, 2013. Less than a week later, on June 20, we were hit by the worst flood in our history. I had gotten our computer, Ipod and cellphone out before the flood but left them at my place of work not dreaming that they would be in any danger there. More than a week later they let my employers back into the building to retrieve valuables and \my employers, Tony and Penny Marshall of Highwood Crossing Foods, who are angels in their own right, retrieved my bags for me, one that held my clothes , one that held our valuables,computer etc.and one of important documents. Upon arriving at the TIDE loads of hope caravan I opened my trunk to retrieve my bag of clothes that had been sitting in the flood waters for over a week. A volunteer came out to help me unload my clothes and when he grabbed my bag with the electronics in it I broke down and told him of my wifes passing and that I was going to try and recover any info I could off of them. This complete stranger then offered to make a few phone calls to see if he could help me. This truly caring person was David Brodie, vice president, Western Canada of Citizen Optimum. He was from Vancouver and yet he was out in the middle of this disaster helping people unload their few remaining clothes to be washed for free by TIDE.Within two days I received a call from Mr Brodie to take all my electronics into Future Shop in Shawnessy, Calgary, and they would see what they could recover. Please remember that these devices held all of our recent and last pictures, music and memories. He asked me to speak to Rob Kean, general manager for the Shawville Blvd store, When I went in Rob greeted me like an old friend and his IT wiz Andy said that they would do what they could to retrieve whatever info they could. Remember these devices had been sitting in flood waters for more than two weeks. From here my thanks go out to countless people that I have never met but their assistance has made a difference in both my and my children’s lives, three great sons, two and hopefully three great dauthers in law,and two plus three more on the way grandchildren. Larry,, and all the great people at FUTURE SHOP. On Jul 30 I got a call from Rob Kean saying that they had retrieved some of my lost data. I must say that I was a compleat puddle (my boys description of how I break down) when I went into the store and not only had they retrieved all the info from my old computer but also downloaded all the info onto a brand new laptop, complete with an emergency backup drive, a brand new ipod 5, I’m still trying to figure out how to run these, headphones, sony speaker system  and A large part of my memories to share with my grandchildren. To all these people who have helped pull me out of my despair, THANK YOU. I think all of you must have seen the last piece of  art my wife bought. “Kindness changes everything” I am going to try and attach it to this email but if it doesn’t work please email me and I will see if I can rectify this.

I know that there are still some prople trying to retrieve our last phots off of my wifes Iphone but even if you don’t, you are still part of Chrissy’s angels.

Thanks to all is not enough

The puddle man

Rick Ellis 

Tape Backup Gets Squeezed by The Cloud and SSDs

Thursday, July 25th, 2013

For the past couple of years we have been telling our customers and social media followers that Tape Is Not Dead.  But the past 12 months has put increasing pressure on a backup technology that business has relied on for decades.  Memofix is one of the few repair facilities in North America that repairs hard drives and we continue to support customers of HP, IBM and Quantum tape drives, among others.  However we see the signs that tape is quickly being pushed out of IT operations by Cloud and Solid State Drives (SSDs).

In our conversations with storage OEMs, customers and industry contacts there’s no surprise that Cloud backup is becoming the backup and data recovery option that many companies are moving to.  Local storage is not going away and the move to disk-to-disk backup has been underway for years.  But the Cloud is quickly replacing tape as the guarantee for business continuity.  It provides offsite security while eliminating the majority of administration associated with tape backup processes, and there’s no need for expensive equipment purchases or upgrades.  It was a logical move for Memofix to offer Cloud Backup solutions in order to continue serving the thousands of customers who have relied on us for storage technology and services for 25+ years.

How are SSDs affecting the use of tape for data backups?  SSD Manufacturers and systems integrators are selling flash technology with the emphasis on savings.  The primary saving comes from a reduction in power consumption and reduced impact on IT cooling systems.  But we are also hearing more pitches that tout the speed of SSDs and the productivity gains that companies can achieve, particularly when dealing with large data sets and industries where response is critical.  As SSDs grow in capacity and come down in price, they are starting to push traditional HDD storage into a Disk-to-Disk backup role.  This means the tape drive infrastructure is rendered obsolete or its role is greatly reduced.

In a backup market that has plenty of new sexy technologies, tape continues to be the solid low-cost performer, albeit less exciting.   It’s a little bit like shopping for a new car.  IT managers and business owners can either afford to drive out of the showroom with the leading solutions in Cloud, SSD and disk-to-disk, or they have to settle for the economy model that everyone thinks is already obsolete.   Whatever you’re driving, we can help you tune up your backup strategy.


iTech2013 … How was the show?

Friday, May 31st, 2013

Today’s blog features a guest post from Larry Shulman, our Business Development Manager. 

Last week Memofix Hitech Services Inc. exhibited at the iTech show  in Toronto.

Exhibitor products and services ranged from Infrastructure & Data Centre Operations,  Storage Innovations & Big Data, Servers & OS, Communications & Connectivity, Security & Risk Management, Disaster Recovery & Business Continuity, Cloud Services & Solutions, Virtualization, Mobile Apps & Hardware and managed IT Services.

Being an “independent” show (not sponsored by  a particular manufacturer or distributor) it seemed to attract a nice balance of small to medium business (SMB), and smaller solution / service providers (VAR’s, consultants, resellers).  As an exhibitor that provides solutions to both SMB’s  and resellers what I found interesting was that those in attendance have  the same challenges, obstacles and goals as their larger counterparts (corporations, government etc.) and that  both are looking for solutions to support what is becoming a very complex landscape of demands and requirements.

The solutions that Memofix presented: data recovery services, tape and hard disk repair, data destruction services, storage ITAD solutions and cloud back were well received by both SMB and solution providers in attendance. SMB’s seemed to be relieved knowing there is a company that offers these types of recovery solutions when and if needed and solution providers were excited that through Memofix they can add additional “value added services” to their customers.

As a grizzled veteran of the IT industry (over 25 years) as I walked the show floor I am still amazed and in awe at the technology solutions being developed by IT companies including Memofix to support the requirements of both large and small. I have to appreciate our industry for the good work they continue do in support of clients, and trying to stay one step ahead of what the customer needs.

Keep up the good work……