If you’re technically-minded, or you’re thinking of becoming a trade partner, this page is for you. Otherwise, please be warned that reading this information may cause your eyes to glaze over, and there’s even the possibility of a little drool.
The equipment in our lab is very different to conventional computer repair/servicing workshops. Most of our recovery hardware comes from Russia and Canada, along with our Homeland Security-based forensic software from the USA. To protect both our own trade secrets, and our clients’ confidentiality, we unfortunately can’t let anyone further than our reception area. In fact, we can’t even tell you the names of some of the equipment below. But if you’re in the IT or computer trade, we’re always happy to nurture business relationships. If you’re interested in our trade pricing and partnerships, please call 0800 77 77 22 or email Darren for further information.
- Clean room: even slight contamination from dust, hairs or moisture can wreck an otherwise perfectly recoverable drive. To ensure no contaminants can get onto the platters or under the heads of your disk, we do all our drive repairs in a custom-built clean room. Here’s a close-up of James working on a drive in the clean-room.
- Disk parts: we have over 4,000 old and new hard drives stored in our lab to scavenge from—so we can almost always source parts for a repair. Very occasionally we have to send for parts from overseas (usually heads), which may increase the price and timeframe of a job. Of course, we will always let you know before doing this.
- A slew of software tools: obviously we have various utilities to repair every conceivable file and filesystem. In this photo you can see the output of some hardware-level disk scans we’re running. (We thought they were more interesting than the other programs.) These screens are attached to a bank of recovery computers, which you can see further down.
- The usual electrical equipment: super fine-tip soldering irons, variable power supplies, multimeters, a whole array of resistors and diodes that often need replacing—even a microscope to help with jobs that are too finicky to achieve with the naked eye. In this photo, you can see our technician, James, using the microscope to do some very fine soldering work on a damaged hard drive (in our clean-room, of course!) This kind of work is very common, especially as flash devices become more ubiquitous—most flash memory failures are actually a case of electrical components that either need to be replaced, or re-soldered for long enough to recover the data. James is quite the solderer.
- PC-3000 Flash Spider Board Adapter: A very recent technology that connects directly to the pins of monolithic integrated flash chips. It works with micro-SD, SecureDigital, UFD, MemoryStick and eMMC, and it can recover data from them even if they’re formatted, erased or partly damaged.
- hardware/software complex: The staple of all advanced data recoveries, this tool lets us access the firmware and the ROM of a drive to correct faulty code. Trade secrets prohibit us publicizing the name of this equipment, which is why it is blanked out. We can’t show you photos either—the best we can do is a picture of a hard disk attached to it.
- Imager: this is a hardware disk imager that can get data off disks when software-based imaging tools fail. And because we can’t show it to you either, why not take a look at our bank of recovery computers instead? These are the computers the screens above are attached to.
- Flash: this tool can extract data from NAND based flash devices such as USB drives, audio recorders, mobile devices etc. This is actually a picture of it, but we’ve blurred out the name. We acquired this particular piece of technology more recently, and it has been a Godsend—we’ve vastly increased the number of flash memory jobs we can successfully complete. Unlike hard disks, which all use the same file system, flash memory manufacturers make our lives especially difficult by using different controllers on every device, encrypting your data with any one of dozens of different keys. This makes it impossible to recover your data without hardware-level tools like this one. Most companies advertising data recovery services don’t have this.
- SSD: with this we can repair faulty SSD drives. Again, no picture—but you might be interested to know that we use this Stanley air compressor for efficiently cleaning out devices. It’s pretty low-tech, but it avoids any risk of abrasion damage to your device (and precious data). Even soft brushes can scratch, or catch in a delicate mechanism.
- RAID: with this we can recreate a failed RAID array of any level. This isn’t usually an issue for home users, but for business customers who have serious server failures, this is the only way to reliably recover their data. Again, we can’t show this piece of equipment—but here’s an opened hard drive, with James’ standard work tools neatly laid out next to it.
- Data Extractor: this lets us extract data from any corrupt filesystem with far more reliability than the myriad software tools you can download off the internet (in fact, we highly advise against using those—they often make things worse). Here’s a photo of a whole bunch of circuit-boards from hard drives that have passed on to a better place.
- Encase Forensic: a software utility that lets us gather evidence from various types of media, including smartphones, and put it together in a court-approved way. You’d be surprised how many jobs we do are for private investigators, or under court order.
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If you'd prefer a real person to walk you through this, call us on 0800 77 77 22 and Darren will help you out.