tests include an overall check of machine's condition, including
drives, ports, cables, connectors, hardware and software. Further analysis may include more extensive diagnostics,
especially if issue is intermittent. An estimate for repairs will be
provided as soon as specific problem(s) are identified.
Extended machine analysis:
If machine checks out but drive does
not - which is not unusual as ALL drives fail eventually - then our
focus shifts to data recovery. If you have a
current backup, we can usually get you up and running in no time,
depending on replacement drive availability; some
solid-state-drive-equipped machines require a specific type of SSD that
will have to be ordered. (And, yes, SSDs can also fail.)
Photos, letters, music, videos, docs, email, projects large and small -
known as "target data" - these are one-off files that exist nowhere
else. They can represent years of work that might be lost forever. We
first attempt to recover ALL data in hopes of restoring a complete
startup volume, but if that's not possible and we're forced to limit
recovery to target data, the process becomes much more complicated. In either case, recovery requires a proper drive prepped to
receive data. This is best done immediately, as sometimes there is no
If an nCity shop volume is used for recovery purposes,
you'll be given the option of reimbursing the shop for this volume and
taking possession of it, or see your data erased
(overwritten) from our shop
drive after its use. If we cannot recover your
data we will know in short order and discuss other options for data
recovery with you.
failures may prevent startup or operation too, and some can mimic drive
Tracking down computer problems may be as simple as a reset or an
update, or it may require testing machine's
output, ports, power management, buses, connectors, cooling or other
Software tests may involve OS operation and errors, data structures, settings, drivers, etc. We'll discuss upgrades, System prefs and specs as necessary,
check account and security settings and
permissions, if indicated.
We will need your login
password (or your
presence) in most cases.
include copy, scan and/or repair processes that can
take a very long time to execute with precision (often run overnight).
Larger volumes = longer times. Time charges apply to supervision and
monitoring as necessary, but not to unsupervised run time.
A given system's size, age and
hardware/software configuration dictates selection of tools used in
troubleshooting. Initial diagnostics are virtually guaranteed to find
and fix a variety of minor errors, and any serious irregularities
should be quite apparent.
Regular maintenance is always a good idea, and an occasional checkup
entails a more focused look at errors unearthed and problems
encountered in testing. In the event of a failed drive, a
replacement should be configured and installed, and the process may
then move to data recovery. Other hardware faults typically point to
replacement of a subassembly.
Operational (software) errors and issues are a far more common
complaint than hardware failures and comprise the bulk of analysis and
of course, range from temporary to terminal; we try to be more than
reasonable in both extremes where a quick adjustment is all that's
needed, or in the case of catastrophic failure when all we can do is
dispense bad news. For the vast majority of cases in between, a
diagnosis is required and an estimate for corrective measures will be
presented. Various options may be suggested for client's
consideration before proceeding. Policies regarding data recovery and
privacy are posted, and we do ask that clients read and understand this
information as it pertains to the problem at hand.
Attempting to rescue information from a crashed or damaged
drive can be a long and complicated endeavor, and there are no
guarantees when trying to recover data. We will try every avenue at our
disposal, but attempting data recovery comes
with a price tag whether the attempt produces useful data or not. Prior
to recovery from a mounted drive, we have no idea if a block of data
files or corrupt gibberish - recovery process is the same in either
case. Success can only be evaluated after recovery.
On the other hand, if drive failure prevents data access or
recovery, we'll know in short order. In that case, clients will be
referred to the legendary heroes at DriveSavers.
Be prepared for some down time. Bring your computer to our
shop - leave all cables and peripherals at home - and we'll see if we
can get it up and running. This allows us to eliminate computer issues
that might mimic a drive failure.
- Mechanical failure is the first
determination. If the drive passes mechanical tests and mounts, data
usually proceed in-house.
- Bare drives require a compatible host
machine and/or bridgeboard to allow access. Shop minimum charge
even if you "just wanna see if it still works."
- A secondary storage volume (drive)
required if recovery is to take place, usually a hard disk or SSD
of similar or greater capacity. This volume might replace
(failed) internal drive, or it may become an external backup if
drive passes all tests.
- In extreme situations, we may be
forced to ignore OS and commercial app software and focus on retrieving
irreplaceable (unique) target files.
- A signed, written agreement is
required prior to attempting volume recovery. This agreement explains
the process in greater detail and absolves nCity of any knowledge of,
or responsibility for, whatever data may or may not be present or
recovered from client volume.
Despite having complete confidence in the quality of tools
at our disposal, there are so many variables that data recovery must be
dealt with on a case-by-case basis. Because we have no knowledge of the
subject drive or device (beyond the fact that it isn't working), our
only approach is to treat it accordingly and make no assumptions as to
its current or prior condition, with no assumptions made regarding
of its contents. It might have a damaged or overwritten directory. It
could be so severely fragmented that its remaining X% of free space has
no two contiguous blocks. Or, we may never be able to identify the
exact cause of failure. Drives with huge blocks of data (sometimes
identified as a partition) may turn out to contain only a massive
quantity of zeros; nothing to recover here, even though the drive
showed a large percentage of storage as "used." Because of these and
other factors, predicting the
_viability_ of whatever data may be recovered is not possible.
The goal is to move all data between volumes in one
operation (known as a batch copy). We're not concerned with individual
files or what they may contain, only that the volume's entire contents
gets to where it belongs and remains reasonably intact. The number of
files, file size or condition may cause difficulties, and the names of
some files may appear during scans, batch copies, file tests and
such, but even these are treated as containers without regard for
content. It is in the best interest of all parties involved that the
actual contents of a volume (and the individual files it may contain)
is neither viewed nor discussed beyond the most general of terms.
our Home page).
question mark on startup
This usually means the
Operating System cannot be found; causes range from simple to
severe. If you've ignored repeated warnings that your "startup disk is
almost full" (or turned off the warning) and you've run out of storage
space, it's too late now for any easy fix. If it happened suddenly,
out of the blue, it may indicate a hardware failure or it might've been
caused by OS damage/corruption. Either way, data recovery may be
You _do_ have a current and complete
Blank screen on
startup or wake from sleep
checking/changing System settings, manually selecting
sleep/wake cycles, testing sleep function on closing and opening
laptops, and (in rare cases), checking your screen resolution settings.
If this problem is persistent, there
may be a hardware issue involved.
These can be related to a
specific application or program, a corrupt Operating System, or they
may be symptomatic of a hardware issue. In other words, a
KP is vague enough that it could be caused by most anything. On older
System versions, a KP produced a black dialog box saying you need to
in four languages. Newer OS versions may restart automatically without
showing anything onscreen, in which case the machine will go into an
endless loop of startup/shutdown until stopped by pressing power button
for 6-10 seconds. If a restart doesn't solve the problem, we'll do our
best to track down the cause.
beachballs, slow ops
This cursor has a legitimate purpose,
indicating the OS is busy processing some command, but when you see it
too often or for too long it can mean trouble. It may be a sign of
insufficient RAM, a full or malfunctioning hard drive, a bus error,
illegal command, missing file or a variety of other things, really. If
it only happens in relation to a particular program, blame the program
and go from there.
If you hear a series of
beeps on startup, it usually means one or more RAM modules may be
failed or out of spec. This is a fairly easy problem to diagnose and
fix. Worst case scenario: The RAM is fine, but the socket it plugs into
damaged. Not good. A long, steady tone on startup can mean trouble of
various kinds, too. No sound on startup usually means audio out is
turned off or misdirected, but it can also mean a hardware or bus
failure, or it might be a damaged headphone jack.
to boot or OS installation fails
Brightness turned down to
zero, keyboard not connected/paired/working, damaged power button,
or bus error, drive failure, incompatible OS version, no power/dead
battery - the possibilities are nearly endless. You may be tempted to
blame the last operation machine completed, or the last program it ran
before failing, but this is usually a false assumption. Bring it in for
a diagnostic and we'll track down the problem.