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Recovering wiped (not deleted) files

by DouglasZare / January 10, 2007 7:43 AM PST

There are many programs and services that will recover files that have been simply deleted, or from hard drives that have been formatted. I'm NOT interested in those.

In discussions of disk wiping software like DBAN, it is commonly said that overwriting more times is better, and that using random data is better than using all 00 or all FF bytes. People say that "with some expense" it is possible to recover data that has been wiped once. Some people misrepresent Peter Gutman's ideas and recommend 35 passes. However, these take a long time, and in a business setting this time has value.

Can anyone recommend a commercial service that can recover files from a hard drive (let's say a 20 GB desktop internal hard drive) that has been overwritten completely even once? If it's feasible with some expense, these services should exist, right? How about data that has been written over 3 times?

I've seen people point to the Guzik V2002 as a device that could recover some data after it is overwritten. However, I don't see any services claiming to use this.

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Tried Contacting The Pros...?
by Grif Thomas Forum moderator / January 10, 2007 8:23 AM PST
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Re: Recovering wiped (not deleted) files
by DouglasZare / January 10, 2007 11:23 AM PST

Thanks for your suggestion, but I had actually called that company before posting, and their representative said that they were unable to recover any data that had been written over once.

I do expect a professional service to be required. No software should be able to recover overwritten data when the entire drive is overwritten, including hidden copies of the files.

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Be aware that such is not in the commercial offerings.
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / January 10, 2007 9:53 PM PST

It's the type of stuff in the labs of government labs and such. No easy button here. If you want to see this in action just claim the drive was used by a terrorist.

Of course I'm not advising you try that.


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One possibility
by DouglasZare / January 11, 2007 8:09 PM PST

The only company I have found so far that seems to be able to recover data from a drive that has been overwritten completely is Data Clinic.

I spoke with a representative of that company. If I heard correctly, then they may be able to recover slightly garbled files from low density drives (at most 4 GB) that have been overwritten once. The minimum cost would be 13,000 pounds, although I'm not sure whether that referred to a file or the whole drive. After a 3-pass wipe, or a single pass on a larger drive, their techniques would not work.

Please let me know of any other commercial services able to recover data from a drive that has been overwritten completely.

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You probably know...
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / January 11, 2007 8:46 PM PST
In reply to: One possibility

That certain governments will expend millions on such recovery items so the labs and personal are quite amazing. Let's just say that what you find in the commercial realm is driven by cost so you won't find this amazing stuff there.


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