Last Friday I toured the DriveSavers data recovery facility in Novato, CA. As you might expect, attendees were interested in knowing if DriveSavers employees preferred a particular hard drive or shunned products sold by a specific vendor.
Their stock answer was that because all drives are destined to fail, that it’s best to approach the subject with a feeling of paranoia and make sure you have full and reliable backups of your data at all times. Drive manufacturers have maximized Moore’s law to the hilt in cramming more data storage capacity onto a set of disk platters. As a result, fault tolerance levels on modern drive systems are extremely low, which is one reason why older drives (which have far less storage capacity) tend to last longer.
Probing into the subject a little further, DriveSavers has found that there are specific makes and models from drive manufacturers that are notoriously bad and should be avoided. That is, a product sold by Seagate, Western Digital, Hitachi, Maxtor, or Samsung could be prone to failure while another from the same firm is not. DriveSavers stocks LaCie external drives to image the volumes they receive from customers. It’s not because they feel the drives inside the LaCie enclosures are more reliable than the competition. Rather, it’s because LaCie is located on the West Coast and they can order and receive the part in 24 hours.
I asked whether they’re seeing a larger-than-expected number of Time Capsule drive returns and the answer is no. On the other hand, they do a large number of RAID system recoveries for enterprises and forensic work for investigators who are hired to recover photos (embedded with GPS data that disclose where the picture was taken) on encrypted or damaged iPhones where the owner dies in a car accident or is killed.
When I returned to my office, I downloaded a free app for my iPhone called DriveSaver (for some reason, it’s missing the last ‘s’) that provides visual simulations of a crashed hard disk or solid state drive and how DriveSavers can assist in recovering data. The DriveSaver app is also compatible with an iPod touch or iPad and can be downloaded from the iTunes Store.
App Store > Utilities > DriveSavers Data Recovery, Inc.
The bottom line is, essentially, don’t leave your home or office at the end of the day without an assurance that your data has been safely backed up.