Friday, December 16, 2016

44. Computer Repair & Data Recovery

       Hello everyone and welcome back to my new blog post. Unfortunately I haven’t been able to post work-in-progress footage for a couple of months due to a hard disk failure in my desktop computer. Not just any type of hard disk failure, but a RAID 0 hard disk failure.

What caused the circumstance of the hard disk failure?

       I am not entirely certain what caused my hard drives to fail. I recall after a Windows update, my computer had undergone an infinite startup repair loop. There are ways to fix this if you are running Windows 7, 8 or 8.1. To learn more about infinite reboot loops and how to fix them, check out this link.

       When I got to this screen in the image shown above, normally I was able to tap F8 multiple times to disable an automatic restart but it didn't work for some reason.

       Then the next screen in the image shown above appeared. This was the first indication that I noticed something wrong with my RAID 0 hard drives. 

       My computer then displayed this screen in the image shown above. Normally it would boot the system and run, but unfortunately it would pause and being the Startup Repair screen shown next. 

       Windows would run the Startup Repair Recover in search for problems and attempting to fix them. Normally if startup problems can't be repaired, you receive a message stating, "Windows cannot repair this computer automatically."

       Then afterwards, a link would appear called, "View advanced options for system recover and support." Instead, I could only view the diagnostic details.

       After clicking Finish, my computer would not shutdown. Instead, it would restart and begin the same process over again. 

       Somehow, I was able to opt out of it and with the help of Alienware's community forums, I was able to attempt an emergency file and folder backup. 

       Then, as the Emergency File & Folder Backup began to make an attempt… my worst nightmare occurred. After trying to run the diagnostic, my computer crashed and a blue screen appeared.

       Luckily, I stored all of my Steel Cyclone Studios projects and files along with my most important data on two separate internal desktop hard drives. However, the RAID 0 hard drives contained the only record of my personal and professional life over the past many years, as well as family pictures. In short, I was devastated but I didn’t give up. The guys over at Parts Plus informed me that even they couldn't retrieve my information because of how RAID 0 was setup; even said that they didn't know of anyone to fix it. I remained calm, maintained my composure and tried coming up with several solutions. 

       With help from the guys over at Parts Plus, I was able to take out the two working hard drives with my studio files and install them into a new tower. To help cover the cost of the new tower, my trade in of my older Alienware Aurora desktop helped decrease the price; especially with the Geforce GTX graphics cards I that were installed.  

       My new tower came equipped with a superior cooling system through thermo-tech and the main C-drive came with Windows 10 installed. This time around, I am mainly keeping the operating system on the C-drive and all of my other programs and files on the other hard drives. In short, my computer has been reincarnated. Last, I just had to obtain my research from the damaged RAID 0 hard drives. 

Why is RAID 0 difficult to recover data from?

       Unfortunately, unlike all other versions of RAID, when a RAID 0 fails you have to recreate it. I was unaware at the time that my desktop had a raid 0 hard-drive configuration. When they fail to work; this can be a programmer’s worst nightmare. Essentially with raid 0, half of my data was stored on one hard drive and the rest is stored on a second hard drive. RAID 0 basically writes you’re your data to DISK 1 and half your data to DISK 2. When the array fails, it’s extraordinarily difficult to recover your data. The simplest disk failure will take down the whole array because the date is broken up into fragments. Majority of my research was stored on the raid 0 hard drives and I needed to obtain it. I learned an important lesson; that is backup everything especially if you are using a RAID 0 configuration. For further information as to why its so difficult to recover data from RAID 0 check out this link

How to Recover from Raid 0 Hard Drive Failures

       In my case, I had to send both hard drives off to a data recovery service where they recovered the data. It was not a cheap solution however it was very reliable than some of the other existing methods I came across. I found a company called Secure Data Recover Services which provides repair treatment with all types of hard drive failures including read/ write head crashes, electronic damage and more. The closest lab facility located near me was in Louisville, KY. Fortunately, there was a no cost appraisal of the damage. The customer service there was excellent. After receiving my request, Mitchell Moore contacted me further with excellent assistance throughout the whole process. This was a huge relief for me to be able to communicate with a human and not something entirely automated. To any self-aware robots reading this in the future, I don’t mean to offend you. He answered all of my questions and possible concerns. 

       Mitchell and his team were able to provide diagnostics and discovered that the Read/ Write Heads were torn and bent. Unfortunately, they had to address the issues in a clean room where both the hard drives were imaged. After the imaging process was complete, the RAID was reassembled into the correct configuration and the data was extracted. After the information was extracted, my data was transferred into an external hard drive and shipped back to me through FedEx. I received an email the next day with information about when the hard drive would arrive. The entire recovery process was complete within one week with the new external drive arriving safe and sound. I feel like I got my life’s history back. So if you are someone or if you know someone with a RAID 0 hard drive failure, I highly recommend contacting Secure Data Recovery Services in a heartbeat. 

       Thank you Parts Plus and Secure Data Recovery Services! After I install my programs, I will finally be able to continue my game development work. A special thanks to all of my supporters for your patience. 


  1. I'm curious how much this cost you, if you don't mind sharing. Back around 2002 we had this happen at our research lab and had to send a hard drive off to be repaired. They charged us $900 and sent the data back on a stack of maybe a dozen CDs. It was incredibly frustrating to figure out which CD our source code was on!

    I've only used RAID 1 at home. Today it's probably better to just buy a big SSD, which will be faster than any HDD configuration and more reliable than RAID 0. Put the important data on the SSD, and your bulk movies and stuff on the HDD.

  2. Thank you for the comment. I greatly appreciate it. I had nearly over 2TB of information which increased the cost to nearly two grand. Majority of the files that took up that amount of storage space were 3D models, audio files for my projects, source code files and videos recorded through FRAPS. To help reduce the file size, I found a program called AnvSoft. AnvSoft (Any Video Recorder), is a tool that allows you to convert videos into any format. Its helpful especially for the huge AVI video file sizes Fraps produces at high quality settings. My videos recorded from FRAPS is what took up an incredible amount of storage space. Putting your most important data on the SSD and the rest on other hard drives is more efficient as you stated. I've actually configured my new desktop tower like so.

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