William Goldstein was sure he’d lost much of his life’s work. Goldstein, a prolific film and TV composer, was upgrading his computer to a new operating system recently when he discovered that his external hard drive wouldn’t spin up anymore. He had stored nearly 700GB of data—including several digitized versions of old audio tape that had eroded over time—on that drive.
“I was just sick to my stomach,” recalled Goldstein from his Los Angeles studio. “I had music files on that drive that I’d recorded as recently as a few days ago and as far back as the 1960s.”
Goldstein—who’s scored more than 50 film and TV projects—knew a lot of that music could be recovered from various CDs he’s released, as well as from his website. Unfortunately, most of those files are in the compressed MP3 audio format. Stored on the failed external drive were files in the higher quality WAV format, which is widely used for professional recording and editing.
“I was afraid I’d never see those files again,” said Goldstein, 70.
After evaluating a number of storage recovery firms, Goldstein contacted Seagate Recovery Services (SRS); he wanted a firm that was close to his business on the West Coast, and he liked Seagate’s “no recovery, no fee” guarantee.
Goldstein spoke with Cindy Johnson, a case manager at SRS, who asked him to ship the drive for analysis to the SRS lab in Santa Clara, California. A few days later, Johnson called him back with news that wasn’t too encouraging.
A Tough Case
“She told me my drive had severe mechanical problems and the retrieval would be difficult,” said Goldstein.
“It was a pretty serious issue, almost a worst-case scenario,” agreed Craig Jones, SRS manager of Worldwide Client Services. “When we opened up the drive’s enclosure, we found that the spindle had seized, which meant the drive’s platters couldn’t spin freely.”
That presented the SRS team with a tough challenge because platters aren’t designed to be easily pulled apart and then put back together.
“Those platters are lined up to themselves and to their surroundings to the micron," explained Jones. “If you can’t spin up those platters inside their original housing, you have to transplant them—and you have to be extremely careful in how you do that.”
Very few data-recovery organizations have the skills for such a job. The SRS team’s capabilities and processes are unique, though, thanks in large part to a couple of strategic acquisitions. Seagate’s 2006 acquisition of ActionFront gave the company valuable skills in highly complex recovery work; ActionFront has successfully recovered data for thousands of businesses and individuals, as well as law-enforcement agencies. Those capabilities were expanded with the 2007 acquisition of EVault, a leading provider of online backup services. In many cases, the SRS team also consults closely with Seagate’s global hardware and firmware engineers.
Six days after receiving Goldstein’s damaged drive, the SRS team’s Johnson contacted him with some great news: His music files could be saved. Seagate recovered approximately 670GB of WAV music files—an invaluable portion of Goldstein’s digitized work.
After carefully removing the platters from Goldstein’s external drive and placing them into an identical housing, SRS engineers made mirrored images of each data sector (nearly 3 billion sectors in all) onto a new, “healthy” drive. From there, engineers used specialized software to make sure the partition tables, boot records, and other critical files and folders were all properly aligned.
It was a perfect, 100-percent recovery in that every single drive sector was duplicated.
“Things just happened so quickly after I sent my drive to Seagate,” said Goldstein. “I was extremely grateful and impressed at the efficiency of Seagate’s operation.”
Goldstein also showed his faith in Seagate by purchasing two of the company’s external storage products—a 2TB Backup Plus desktop drive and a 500GB Backup Plus portable drive for use in his recording studio. The external drives, which can be upgraded to different cable interfaces for faster file transfers, are keeping his greatest hits and current projects safe and secure.
The common thread for that music, whether it’s a composition for the stage or screen, is a sound that Goldstein called “emotionally connective” with audiences.
“I want my music to connect with our humanity,” he said, “and that’s true no matter which medium I work in. I’ve been extremely blessed to have a life where I can speak the language of music. That’s all I’ve known since I was nine. And in many ways, I still feel like a nine-year-old kid.”
—By Steve Pipe