About Tom Evslin

Video Profile of Tom Evslin

Follow Tom Evslin on Twitter


Add to Technorati Favorites!
Powered by TypePad
Member since 01/2005


« FWD on Facebook Because No Network Should Be An Island | Main | Livestrong »

Recovery Log – Can Geek Squad Save the Data?

As previously posted, since I forgot to back up the Quicken files on Mary’s computer, they weren’t available at our online backup service to be restored after her hard drive crashed. Maybe, I thought, Geek Squad can save me from my stupidity so I hustled off to Best Buy with the drive-dead Dell.

Explained the problem to the young man behind the geek counter; he was pretty kempt for a geek.

“All we can do,” he said, “is send it out to a data recovery service. That’ll cost you between fifteen hundred and three thousand dollars.”

“Ugh,” I said. “Can you try booting with some other startup disk and then see if they data’s recoverable?”

“No,” he said. “That might infect our machines.”

“Huh?” I asked. “Don’t you have a boot disk you could put in the CD drive and then see if the hard drive is visible or do something to it?”

“All we can do is send it out.” Wrong geek, I thought.

“How do you know the problem is the boot drive?” he asked. Should’ve asked that first, I thought, but showed him the messages while I tried to boot up and hoped that actually looking at the computer would spark his interest.

“Yup, the drive is bad,” he said. “All we can do is send it out.”

I left. Almost certainly will key in the data I can’t extract from the banks and credit card companies. But, if I ever can find a boot CD around, will see for my own satisfaction if I’m a better geek than the young man. Will also try dismembering the Dell and putting it back together just on general principles since I can’t hear the hard drive running any more (it was loud just before and during failure). Reader suggestions welcome.


TrackBack URL for this entry:

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Recovery Log – Can Geek Squad Save the Data?:


Account Deleted

Backing up data would really be as important as the data itself. Despite the existence of data recovery programs and services, data backup will always be better. This site is also helpful: http://getdatarecoverytips.com/. Check it out. Thanks.

Johnathan Fii

Honestly, I'd say take it to another precinct.
Do NOT ask for recovery.
Ask for a data backup.

Curtis Carmack

Another thing you can try is popping the disk out and putting it in a removable drive enclosure and connecting that to your new system. If it doesn't recognize the drive, then boot up the new system (with the old drive still connected externally) with a "live" Linux CD (like Knoppix or Ubuntu), which runs Linux from the CD and RAM, as sometimes these OS's are able to force mount a drive that has a bad partition table or is otherwise unrecognizable by Windows. I recently had some success doing this and was able to rescue 4 GB of files this way. You should be able to find a drive enclosure for less than $30 if you look around.


You've mentioned that when the hard drive was running before and during failure, it was loud. Was the "loud" running noise normal? Your hard drive may have a head crash and trying to run it again will only do further damage the platter and lower your chance of recovering your data. You should identify the problem before trying to boot your drive again.


Here's a site on how to create a bootable disk.
Or you could try these guys, when I used them my recovery cost me $950
Good luck.

Michal Altair Valasek

I can recommend Hiren's Boot CD. That's boot CD containing all kinds of diagnostics and recovery software. If the drive isn't completely dead, there is a big chance you can salvage needed data using the provided software.


Actually, geek squad data recovery starts at around 250 dollars and the high end is about 1500 for extreme cases. It costs like 50 bucks to have it sent off and diagnosed.


Hi Tom:

One way of mitigating a risk of disaster is to have an online backup service. I have been reading about the online backup and storage industry for a while now. It is becoming a commonly accepted technology these days. For online backup news, information and articles, there is an excellent website:


This site lists more than 400 online backup companies and ranks the top 25 on a monthly basis. It also features a CEO Spotlight page, where senior management people from the industry are interviewed.


I highly recommend that you give SpinRite a try. It has a highly deserved reputation for disk recovery. www.grc.com

Just a happy user.

Jonathan Ellis

+1 linux boot CDs.

If the disk really is dead and the data is valuable I would give http://utdatarecovery.com/ a try -- they are around 1/3 the cost of the "big names" (or 1/10 of the high end of what geek squad was quoting, that's some nice markup there!) but they do good work; they rescued data from my brother's dead disk for us. (The disk died in pre-Mozy days, but he waited to have it examined because the price point was just too high before we found utdr.)


One trick I have found that works most of the time on boot issues, is to try the drive as a slave on another machine. Often the data is intact, and recoverable in the file system; you just can't boot your OS. Switch the drive prom pins to slave configuration and just stick it on an open IDE channel on a different machine. If the PC sees the drive, you should be able to get the data. Occasionally you have to tinker with the BIOS settings but usually they are set to auto discover new IDE devices.

It is worth a shot, you just need another windows machine that is using NTFS as the file structure (not all do surprisingly, some still run FAT32) assuming your drive is formatted NTFS.

Ted Pricer

I'm local (Burlington) and have enough spare hardware and boot disks that I could be of some use. I would be happy to have a look at it if you'd like. We even have a personal connection (Marjorie M. is my wife's aunt), so it wouldn't be too weird ;)
Let me know.

Naveen Koorakula

You likely know about this already - you could give the Ubuntu boot CD a try.. It mounts windows filesystems, and if the drive is readable at all, you can copy the files you need out..


Post a comment

If you have a TypeKey or TypePad account, please Sign In.

Now on Kindle!

hackoff.com: An historic murder mystery set in the Internet bubble and rubble

CEO Tom Evslin's insider account of the Internet bubble and its aftermath. "This novel is a surveillance video of the seeds of the current economic collapse."

The Interpreter's Tale

Hacker Dom Montain is in Barcelona in Evslin's Kindle-edition long short story. Why? and why are the pickpockets stealing mobile phones?

Need A Kindle?

Kindle: Amazon's Wireless Reading Device

Not quite as good as a real book IMHO but a lot lighter than a trip worth of books. Also better than a cell phone for mobile web access - and that's free!

Recent Reads - Click title to order from Amazon


  • adlinks
  • adsense