Fixing a Fault on a Seagate ST500DM0002

seagate st500dm0002I’ve noticed a peculiar problem on some Seagate ST500DM0002 hard drives where the drive will start, making all the usual sounds and come ready but will not identify itself to the system – the drive ID is blank. This is usually after some catastrophic event forces the computer to shut down suddenly, eg. the power supply is removed without warning etc.

In this particular instance this hard drive came to my attention when I was asked by a reader of the blog for help and assistance in recovering the data from one of these drives with these specific symptoms.

Examining the drive further with a low level hard drive repair tool I first tested the drive’s heads, which passed without error. I noticed that the drive’s system files were readable but the service modules couldn’t be read (despite them being listed). The drive’s translator table loaded correctly so I was starting to believe that the ST500DM0002 has some sort of firmware bug.

Examination of system file 346 showed it to be damaged. Replacing this file with one from a compatible spare resulted in the problem being eliminated and the drive now works perfectly again.


Forensic Acquisition

Acquisition is one of the most critical steps on the digital forensics process. If acquisition is not carried out properly, there is often little that can be done to recover the situation. The acquisition process is based on a very simple principle, which is to obtain a forensic copy of the original digital evidence without changing the state of the original evidence or using the principle of least intrusion or destruction.
This typically means applying a standard procedure using verified tools to produce a verified forensic copy. The processes and tools each need quality assurance processes applied rigorously to them. Likewise the personnel need testing in proficiency of use for these tools.

  • Acquisition should be conducted only through the use of documented procedures using verified tools operated by proficient personnel that are peer reviewed and tested
  • External validation of these processes is also a very good idea and for some laboratories my be a requirement
  • The processes themselves should use standardised documentation for the production of reports
  • The processes and documentation should be subject to regular review

The Quality Assurance (‘QA’) involved in the acquisition phase should be a relatively simple process. The procedure for acquiring the image of a hard disk, for example, should rarely change. The main focus here will be on assuring that procedure has been followed rigurously and that this can be readily substantiated using valid science. In addition, the software and hardware tools and the personnel should be subjected to relevant standards of verification and proficiency.

What Do Data Recovery Companies Do ?

If you lose a file on your computer then the action you usually take is to go to your recycle bin and get it back. Easy. But what happens if you’ve deleted the file from there too? Situations like this often require companies that are specialists in retrieving files and folders from your computer. These specialists are known as data recovery companies and they handle every type of file lose – from deleted files right through to recovering the data from hard drives that have been smashed and been involved in fires.

I was recently fortunate enough to spend the day at Datlabs (, a prestigious data recovery and hard drive specialist based in England. Here’s a typical enquiry that they receive:

Hi, was wondering if you can give me some advice. I have a seagate external HDD (4TB, exFAT formatted) that I use on both windows and OS X operating systems. It has stopped working. I dropped it yesterday (it was not plugged in at the time and only fell about 10cm, but that could still be enough to damage it) and initially my macbook pro was able to recognise and read from it, but I ejected it and since then have not been able to get the Mac to see the drive. I have tried a windows machine at work, which installed the drivers automatically when the drive was connected, but the partition does not appear under my computer. Disk management under windows 7 can see the drive but it has no drive letter assigned and the only option that is not greyed out is to initialise the drive. I don’t want to format or initialise as the data is important to me (it is mostly backed up, but I have substantially reorganised the photos and music on the drive, and therefore would prefer to try and recover it). I have had similar problems with another drive in the past, however, my concern is that it is a mechanical issue, as the drive powers up, spins up and then stops.
What do you charge for assessment and data recovery and what kind of time frame does it normally take?

Spending the afternoon in the Datlabs lab I was able to see for myself how they recover data and how they fault find on hard drives. A drive that powers up and then powers down without being recognised is a dead ringer for a mechanical type failure, and mechanical failures are the worst type of hard drive fault because this usually means that the hard drive has sustained some physical damage that is preventing the hard drive working properly. It’s usually necessary to fix this fault (often by replacing parts) to get the drive working again and getting access to the data.

A Journey from Manchester to Matlock

Matlock is the district administration centre of Derbyshire and is situated above the Midlands cities of Stoke and Birmingham, and below the North West belt of Manchester, Leeds and Liverpool.

Despite lying between Birmingham and Manchester, which are both big cities with much commerce, including the offices of Data Clinic in both locations, Derbyshire is surprisingly difficult to get around. One of the big reasons for this is the Peak District and Derbyshire Dales – both of which are known as Green Belt areas, which are designated areas of beauty and very difficult to build on, or put roads through. It’s because of this that a journey from Manchester to Matlock will take roughly 90 minutes, despite the distance only being in the region of 40 or so miles.

From Manchester you would head out through Hyde before joining the M67 for a few miles to Hattersley. From there you head to Glossop which is your first town in Derbyshire. Heading through Glossop puts you on the Snake Pass, a windy and often treacherous road before turning right at Bamford and heading across the reservoir taking you into Hathersage. From Hathersage you pick up the A6 road to Bakewell and finally on to Matlock.

This is a journey that will take you through many areas of beauty and Derbyshire is a big attraction for tourists each year. Just outside Matlock is the spa town of Matlock Bath and a little further is the hidden gem of Crich, with it’s Tramway Museum. Here many episodes of Peak Practice were filmed and it’s possible to walk on many of the local footpaths that were seen during filming.

SanDisk DDR SSD!?

One of the leading manufacturer’s of flash storage devices, SanDisk has announced a quite groundbreaking product. Basically, an SSD (Solid State Drive) that fits in a RAM slot.

In the battle for read / write data transfer speeds, SSDs are seen as the top product to get. Typically an SSD is a laptop sized hard drive, but there have been quite a number of PCI / PCI-E SSDs – due to the fact that the storage device is actually on the motherboard of a computer, this makes the read / write transfer speeds a lot quicker and with standard SATA connectors.


Typical example of a PCI SSD

As I was mentioning, SanDisk have come up with something quite unique. The fastest possible method of access from a computer to any data is the RAM. SanDisk have utilised this and come up with a 200GB and 400GB SSD that sits in a RAM slot.

It is not intended to be used for home users, but companies that use servers. Due to the fact that RAM is a volatile form of memory and servers are never intended to be powered off, thus it seems like a good match to combine these technologies.

It seems that this is the final point in the frontier against data and latency, as of yet, no prices have been announced, but as with any new technology, it is not likely going to be a cheap product.


  • 5 Microsecond latency
  • DDR3 interface
  • Random Read Input Output Per Second (IOPS) of 140K
  • Random Write IOPS of 44K
  • Sequential Read of 880MB/Sec
  • Sequential Write of 660 MB/Sec
  • Flexible Redundant Array of Elements (F.R.A.M.E) data fail technology
  • SanDisk’s DataGuard Technology


Just what is it designed for?

Due to the amount of data businesses use, this method of storage is designed to cope with vastly quick amounts of data transfers, ideal for large databases, and financial transactions. It does seem like this is the optimum we are able to achieve in terms of the speed of data transfer.

Recovering and Improving CCTV Images and Sounds

Like them or loathe them CCTV cameras are a part of modern day life. A walk through a city centre or a car journey on a busy road are likely to be recorded. Used mainly as a deterrent, CCTV cameras record video and audio information that can be played back and watched in order to gather evidence should some form of crime have been committed.
By it’s very very nature crime is often committed undercover of darkness and because of this, the video and audio information recorded can be of poor quality. Also if criminals are aware that their actions may be recorded by CCTV equipment they are likely to seek out and damage the equipment so that the information recorded is lost.
Specialist CCTV recovery companies (see are often able to recover the data from CCTV systems when problems with the image and sound recovery are encountered. Perhaps the video recorder (often referred to as a DVR) has been damaged or the footage has been lost for other reasons. Another extremely useful facility companies like Data Clinic Ltd provide is the ability to enhance the quality of both the pictures and sound recorded by these CCTV systems. Grainy images can be cleaned up to provide near pin point sharp images, similarly with audio and other sound recordings too.
Police forces and other law agencies have found recovering the data from CCTV systems that were once thought broken to be of great advantage. Also image and audio improvements allow features such as numberplates and faces to be more readily identifiable.

Do you need a professional to recover your data?

Do You Need A Professional To Recover Data From A Disk Drive

Isn’t it amazing how hard drives and storage space have changed in the last 10 years? Drives could have be measure in Kilobytes, Backing-Up data could be a chore and corruption of drives was as typical as it is now. it’s rather mind blowing to consider the progression of hard-disk drive space for storage in the last decade. It was rare to get drives computed in Megabytes. One might have thought that these drives would fail on a relatively consistent basis. Also, backing-up data than it is today an issue was a much more wide-ranging and complicated.

Generally speaking, computers (including hard disk drives ) have become cheaper and much more efficient. Some money can be saved by a lot of people when they know how to construct their own computer. The hard-drives content only can be more expensive compared to the real computer in some instances.

There are a lot of choices you can use, in regards to burning data. Plenty of new computer may have some type of back-up available, like cloud storage. Microsoft gives you so much space of cloud storage on their SkyDrive service. External drives are well-known and are great at the things they do, they are also affordable. Seeing there are tons of various kinds of medium you can use to back up your data, it seems providential that so many individuals (and companies ) have disk failures.

Hard disk faults are a genuine danger. The most popular cause of data corruption is estimated to be corruption of the HDD. The next largest factor which impacts your data is if something bad happens with the actual computer that the HDD is operating on. Exposure to hackers is a sure means to get rid of data, but the truth of the problem is the fact that hard drive failure is a much more frequent reason for data loss.

The data on a HDD is saved on a platter (disk) which has a magnetic layer to it. That is where your data is truly saved. These discs rotate at highspeed, they have a head that can study and create data to and from your drive (just like a vinyl Long Play record). The drive itself features a control that regulates the unit; furthermore, the motor in the drive revolves the platters.

These devices may be somewhat simple yet they are able to go wrong in several things which will cause these drives to perish. From now and again, drives will fail for just one reason or another. Most of the time, all these are changed, not fixed. Nevertheless, there are some specialist data recovery companies that will retrieve data that you might consider lost.

There are other reasons why drives become redundant. A hard disk drive in itself may be perfectly operational, but the pc it is connected to might possess some sort of fault that is making the drive inaccessible by the normal way.

There are many reasons a hard drive can fail, it is essential to realize that even though you might change out your pc for a few hundred pounds, the data on your drive could be worth considerably more, whether its sentimental value or the actual value. 

If a PC is simply typically used in the house you may lose tax records, software or school-work

hard disk drive

if your drive fails, when the PC is used in a business.

All of the problems that hard disk drives have can be tackled by way of a data recovery professional, when the drive itself has failed they can use machines that will read broken drives, if your pc has failed they can remove the drive and study it with another computer and then regain the data you desire.

If you are not familiar with the method that disk drives perform, it could be better if you didn’t attempt recovery yourself. You might cause more harm than you had in the first place. The modest investment that you’ll make in getting your important data back is going to be inclined to save you a lot of money and frustration in the near future.

Preparing for the worst is the best way to ensure your data is secure, any great data recovery specialist will manage to tell you procedures of safeguarding your data against hard drive failure, it’s wise to contact a professional before you lose anything to make sure that you’ve got sufficient protection or fail safes just in case anything does go wrong, as I’m certain you’ll concur keeping your company or private data secure warrants some precautions.

Every hard drive will have to go some time, it’s bound to occur, you can breathe a sigh of relief if you know you have copied your documents though. Backing up your work, other prized files along with pictures is not difficult to do and is affordable, well, compared against the expense of losing that data.

A data recovery expert needs to be sought after as soon as you start experiencing drive dilemmas. In times ahead, it may be possible you’ll detect a specialist who will help you to defend your data in the first place. You needn’t panic as data recovery specialists exist plus they understand what they’re doing, only call one.