Recovering a bootable hard drive

Data loss is a common problem for many CT applications and with medical imaging systems now storing upwards of a million images, this can prove disastrous to any nuclear medicine department. This is exactly what happened when Philips Medical Solutions approached Data Recovery Specialists with a critical predicament, whereby St Vincents University Hospital in Dublin had suffered a failure with their CT scanner.

Working in partnership with Data Recovery Specialists, Philips engineers responded immediately narrowing the problem down to the hard disk drive. The drive was part of a Pegasus Workstation supporting the scanner, which stored the operating system, application and images. Brendan Cummins of Philips Medical Solutions stated “problems arose because of the age of the system complicated by local patches that were not supported by Philips. The customer wanted all these implemented so the only solution was a full data recovery”

This presented a unique challenge to Data Recovery Specialists. Ordinarily, the customer would need to reload the operating system and application data after a data loss situation, before the data could be recovered and restored. However successive re-configurations of the application precluded this as an option.

On initial inspection, the engineers determined that the drive had suffered a logical problem, whereby damage to the second volume had rendered the drive 'unbootable'. In order to recover the data, Data Recovery Specialists copied the binary source code, sector by sector, onto their server. Once a satisfactory image had been taken, the technicians had to identify and rebuild the logical errors. This was done in the laboratory, where literally millions of variables were examined. Once the errors had been rectified, the data was ghosted onto an identical SCSI drive. All the data was recovered including the operating system, application software and jpg images, with no incomplete or damaged files.

Once the data had been backed-up to an identical HDD with matching firmware, Philips engineers reinstalled the hard drive. Throughout the data recovery process, St Vincent’s were without their CT scanner. However, both Philips and Data Recovery Specialists did all possible to expedite the process, often working well into the night to meet strict deadlines.

Tony Pitter, technical director of Data Recovery Specialists commented “whilst not a unique data recovery job, this did present a challenge to our technicians. In order to return a 'bootable' hard drive and save the operating system, we had to ensure that we captured all the binary source code at the imaging process. A single erroneous binary digit would have rendered the data unrecoverable”