Blast from the past! 500GB Seagate Free Agent External Drive File Recovery, Bedford MA 01730 for $209

Customer's drive was one of those brown 500GB Seagate Free Agent external drive that no longer allowed access to the picture files. No software or hardware encryption on those old bad boys. As always, opening the enclosure to retrieve the internal drive is a pain in the neck. Hahaha. But we have seen dozens and dozens of them over the years, so no problem. The customer stated the “external drive is no longer visible mounting on the computer and see the file structure. Was able to before, but eventually it had gotten worse and could no longer see the files with each subsequent attempt to see what could be done”.

Our staff picked up the Seagate external from the client's home along with a 64GB Sandisk Cruze flash drive to place the recovered files on.

Inside the 500GB Seagate Free Agent external drive enclosure was the typical SATA HDD with the following specs:

500GB Seagate Barracuda 7200.11


MDL: ST3500820AS

FW: SD35


Failure: The internal drive sustained a growth of the typical bad sectors found on these 7200.11 Seagate Series of hard drives. Furthermore, with this HDD model, when the bad sectors are highly problematic, it causes the drive’s translator to become corrupt in its attempt to read sectors from the damaged areas.

Solution: The technicians created a sector by sector drive image to a healthy Seagate 7200.12 drive using advanced data recovery hardware imaging equipment. The imaging was safely completed by focusing on the healthy read-write heads first and then on the weaker head (head 1) second, which was plagued by the bad sectors in question. Once completing the hdd imaging process, the NTFS volume was analyzed to determine the file integrity. No file corruption found on the critical files the client is concerned with, namely pictures. Next, the files were recovered to the 64GB Sandisk USB 3.0 flash drive formatted to FAT32. File listing was provided to the customer for review. Upon client’s review confirmation, the recovered data content on the USB flash drive were delivered to the customer. The recovery took place over the week-end.

Outcome: Customer invited us in for a chat while verifying the recovered files. Talked about backup drive options and having multiple copies of the data. He was delighted and happy to see his old memory photos on his new Microsoft Surface Pro 4. He told us: "Great job. Thanks for the quick turnaround service."

Cost: $209 for weekend service, including in person drive pick-up and recovery drop-off.

Recommendation: Regardless of brand, if your external drive no longer allows access to the files, please consult with a data recovery expert. Do not fiddle with it much after it no longer works. It will NOT miraculously work again. The more fiddling, the worse the damage can get, further permanently jeopardizing the chances of recovery.