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Is it possible to recover 2nd data disk on Dell M6400 encrypted with Safeboot 4.2

I have recently received a new company laptop Dell M6400 which has 2x160 GB Drives.

The second drive is used for the data only where the first drive is for the OS and applications.

The company provided backup drives are also 160 GB. This forces individuals to do complete backups (after erasing the earlier data).

Last week while I was performing my backup, I had the blue screen and had to reboot my system.

It was presenting the Safeboot logging screen and I was able to enter my credentials but just after safeboot nothing was happening (No disk activity suggesting windows XP was attempting to boot).

The helpdesk initially tried to reset my safeboot password but that did not get me anywhere (password reseted to 12345). I had to take my laptop to the repair center.

I have been told that the 2 disks in my laptop are not readable (fried is the term they used which is not applausable considering that safeboot on the disk is still operational) and on top of that they were not able to format and install new disks and they had to also change the mother board (another 2 days lost as they did not have spares to test or replace and makes me suspicious that they do not have the means to dignose the problem properly or to attempt data recovery).

When they told me the data in the disks are not accessible I telled them to keep the disks, dont send them to the manufacturer before I clone them.

Now I am asked to come and collect my reparied laptop with no data (with new disks).

I do not know what they have done wrong but I did end up loosing at least 5 years worth of data and fell back 6 months on my project. I still suspect the data is in the disks are there but inaccessible dur to incompetancy. As they have fixed the laptop with new disks and of course safeboot applied, I do not know if they have lost the encryption key corresponding to my laptop before all that happened.

I am not a computer illiterate and I am willing to go to extra mile to recover my data. However I lost my trust in the IT departement (outsourced with high turnover). Now I am being told that they are requesting for an offer from an external company for a data recovery attempt. I also identified that the track reocord of helpdesk recovering any data in case of theese type of failures is really bad (looked at the case logs with no happy ending whatsoever. What would be your reccomendations?

3 Replies

Re: Is it possible to recover 2nd data disk on Dell M6400 encrypted with Safeboot 4.2

If you are very familiar with recovery procedures, you could obtain exported machine object file, called SDB, to perform proper diagnostics of your disks. That assumes you  have access to SafeTech floppy and Daily Code. If all of this is completely new to you, seek McAfee (or else) professional suport.

If you want to be on the safer side, perform sector based image of your disks and keep them safe for repeated attempts to recover data.

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Re: Is it possible to recover 2nd data disk on Dell M6400 encrypted with Safeboot 4.2

err - were you trying to do the first backup in 5 years?!?

Seriously though, if the drives are phyisically good, as Peter suggests you, or your IT department can decrypt them, probably even without the SDB file as long as the pre-boot environment still works fine.


Re: Is it possible to recover 2nd data disk on Dell M6400 encrypted with Safeboot 4.2

Thank you for your interest in my case and the responses.

My concern was the limitation of the company backup tools provided to me.

A 160 GB external drive to backup data of 2x160 disks forces the individual to clean the previous backup to perform a new.

I got my lesson and bought a new 500GB external backup drive at my own expense.

As I went to helpdesk to recover my remastered laptop (with no data) after the change of mother board and both disks, I have seen that the mother board bios settings were at the factory setup and my core load was made while the disks were on Raid mode. I kindly refused and asked them to make another core load using the AHCI mode (they are still working on it).

During my day in Helpdesk here is what I found out so far.

Helpdesk did not Identify a standard bios setting company-wide for the M6400 laptops (a big risk for the other users of M6400's). Some laptops were installed using the Sata in modes ATA, Some AHCI, Some Raid mode (to me Raid is a no go with safeboot). My case it was ATA mode and it did not work too good for me.

Helpdesk did not have a recovery PC with the same configuration with mine. They were using a D620 with BartPE cd and placing one disk at a time to the D620 to attempt recovery.

I have seen helpdesk running the procedure multiple times one disk at a time I also tried the procedure myself with no luck. My main worry was about the SATA mode on D620 did not really match with what they have selected on my M6400 during the sw coreload. I was told that they do not have neither the BartPE recovery CD designed to work on M6400 and do not an M6400 available to perform recovery.

Then I have located an external USB Sata Disk casing and placed one of the disks in the casing and one in the D620 together with my new backup drive.

I have ran the procedure to access the contents of the encrypted drives.

To my suprise I was this time able to access the contents of my "D" drive (M6400 Disk 1 "C" was for the OS and programs, Disk 2 "D" was for data) but the information in the "C" drive was not accessible (and I was not worried at all about that partition).

As a conclusion, I recovered all my data by simply transferring them to my new backup drive.

The key here is,

1. In dual disk configurations with safeboot, both disks shall be present during the recovery operation (I do not understand the exact science behind it but this is how it looks).

2. Company should have established Bios setup standards dor the Dell M6400's and be consistent in the deployments (only a fraction of users like me use this model so there was not huge attention).

3. A BartPE recovery CD shall be mastered for all different configurations supported by helpdesk.

4. A backup solution shall be at least twice the size of the capacity of the Laptop to always keep the Nth and N-1th backups.

5. If your IT department tells you that your data is gone, you shall be persistent (I spent the wole day at the helpdesk but that was a very low price paid in the face of the catastropy i had).

Lost a week chasing the solution but luckily it had an happy ending.

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