DATA COMPASS FOR IMAGING HARD DRIVES
By Ann LeFlore
Easy Access Communication
French Polynesia, Tahiti
Disk imaging is the second stage of data recovery. It is the most critical part of the recovery
process. Data needs to be imaged off a failing drive with degradation, bad sectors, data loss,
corrupted data, media damages such as scratches to the disk surface, and physically damaged
Many programs are available in the market today to image a hard drive but have limitations
when it comes to imaging the complete drive. Industrial software is not designed to read
drives with sever media damage and will skip these area when imaging. It is important to
image the drive with read instability and these software packages do not allow for this feature.
They are designed to image a non-damaged HDD and not one with physical degradation.
Data Compass is more than an imager. The built in feature of the data compass allows you to
use this device in multiple imaging phases of data recovery. The Data Compass allows for full
imaging features in the second stage of data recovery. It is critical to image an unstable hard
drive to prevent further data loss to the drive.
Important features used in the data recovery process:
● Image hard drives with bad sectors
● Partition recovery
● HDD attached to DC can interface with other Data Recovery & Forensic
● Allows two recovery modes; drive imaging by sector (clone), and select only
necessary files and folders to recover.
● Checks partition signatures
● Recovery of encrypted files and folders (programs features decrypt the files
and folders encrypted by other software programs)
● Allows copy of corrupted data
● RAID recovery and reconstruction
● Single and multi pass imaging of bad sectors
● Image data forwards or backwards
● Performs four passes to image the maximum data possible
● Map of sector views during imaging process
● Error report of time-outs, restarts, and backward read attempts during imaging
● Reads sectors with bad ECC
● Designed with special algorithm for imaging to prevent further damage the
● Cloning or imaging by selective heads, allows to “depop” bad heads for
● Allows cloning by hot swap method
● The Shadow disk Feature
● Emulate SA on Hitachi HDD to directly access the data area
IMAGING DRIVES WITH BAD SECTORS:
The Data Compass allows viewing of
the drives sectors before imaging and
cloning the drive. This can determine
the method used in the imaging
process. Drives with severe bad
sectors can cause weakness to the
heads of the drive during the cloning
process. During this process the DC
takes into consideration the severely
defected data area. Before cloning
the drive consider to check the data
area to determine the process that
you will follow during the cloning
After the drive has been correctly
attached to the DC enter into
Sectorservo. Here we will be able to
test sectors individually or by groups
on the drive’s surface. This will help
to determine the cloning process to
use during recovery. If the drive has
many bad sectors it will be beneficial
during the imaging process to take
this into consideration.
The DCEXP program opens the drive
attached to the DC. If the drive is
experiencing partition problems and they are
not visible when the drive is opened. The
program has a feature to scan the partition of
the drive and try to recover the lost
If recovery is not successful; the DC will
allow you to work with other software
recovery programs such as Partition Table
Doctor. The DC interface allows working
with damaged drives; when attached directly
to the computer can cause the system to
hang or have problems accessing the drive. Thus trying to repair the damaged drive that is
connected directly to an IDE cable is impossible. Through the DC interface it is possible to
restore the lost partition of the drive. After the restoration of the lost partition it is possible to
continue the recovery process through the DC.
HDD ATTACHED TO THE DC CAN INTERFACE WITH OTHER DATA
RECOVERY AND FORENSIC APPLICATION PROGRAMS:
Logical recovery on a failing drive can cause problems when attached directly to the IDE or
SATA port on the computer. During this stage other recovery programs are necessary to use
for lost data, deleted files, and over written documents. Working directly with a failing drive
is not recommended. Clone the drive with the DC before attempting any recovery actions.
Once cloned the drive can be attached directly to the DC and used as an interface with other
Data Recovery and Forensic programs. The DC interface is less stressful on the drives’
surface and can make recovery of the lost data quicker.
ALLOWS TWO RECOVERY MODES:
When it is important to retrieve all data on a
failing drive a complete image of the drive
can be made. Here the program will use a
special algorithm to read sever bad sectors.
The program has four separate imaging stages
it perform on the failing drive. First pass;
Quick Forward imaging, second pass;
Intensive forward imaging, third pass; Quick
reverse imaging, and fourth pass; Intensive
reverse imaging. This will ensure the
maximum data retrieval possible from the
When all data on the drive is not needed and
only certain files need to be recovered. It is
possible to only retrieve the files necessary.
The file recovery process allows you to search
the Root directory and choose only the files
necessary for recovery purposes.
CHECKS PARTITION SIGNATURE:
In Sector View it is possible to check the drives’
partition signature before recovery. We can view
individuals sectors of the drive to assure data can
be recovered from the drive before starting the
RECOVERY OF ENCRYPTED FILES AND FOLDER:
Password encrypted files and folders can be
recovered by Commercial Data Recovery
programs. This does not always allow access
to these documents once saved to your target
disk. If files are accessible but the documents
inside are not readable it is possible to use the
DC to gain back access to these documents.
The DCEXP program has a special built in
feature that will decrypt these files and allow
read access again to the documents. After the
drive has been cloned attach to the DC and
enter the File Recovery Mode. In the Explorer
window locate the encrypted documents, right
click on these documents and save to a new target disk. You may now use the Windows
explorer to check the documents readability.
ALLOWS COPY OF CORRUPTED DATA:
Hard drive with sever corrupted data can
cause problems during the cloning
process. The DC uses a forward and
backward read function in these areas to
retrieve data from the drive. During the
imaging process the drive will encounter
corrupted data area. When this happens
the program will use a backward read
function to retrieve data from these
areas. Special attention is given to sever
damaged sectors and corrupted data loss
areas on the HDD.
RAID RECOVERY AND RECONSTRUCTION:
The DC is the only imager on the market today that will support full RAID recovery and
reconstruction of RAID arrays. The program has two modes of RAID recovery; first
automatic mode, and second manual mode. It is now possible to perform recovery on failing
RAID disks and image and retrieve data from RAID arrays.
SEPCIAL FEATURES IN DRIVE IMAGING PROCESS:
Single and multi pass imaging of bad sectors: Depending on the cloning technique you
have chosen the program can either make a single attempt or multiple attempts to read and
recover the bad sectors on the HDD. If the drive is severally damaged you can limit the
number of attempts to read this area of the HDD.
Imaging data forwards or backwards; at times it is not possible to do a forward image of
the HDD. It is necessary to image the drive backwards to retrieve the maximum data off the
drive as possible.
Performs four passes to image the maximum data possible; the imaging process is
preformed on the first pass. The program will note all areas in the drive that contain bad
sectors or potential data loss. On the next three pass the program will work in these areas only
to retrieve the maximum data possible from the failing drive.
Map of sector views during imaging process; During the imaging process the program will
display each sector being imaged. Thus you can see the condition of the sectors being imaged
during the process.
Error report of time-outs, restarts, and backward read attempts during imaging; During
the imaging process a bad sector is encountered the program will report this condition and the
steps it has taken to correct and image this sector.
Read sectors with bad ECC; The program has the ability to read all sectors with bad ECC
and recover data from these sectors.
Designed with special algorithm for imaging to prevent further damage the HDD;
Special care and consideration is taken into account when imaging drives with bad sectors or
potential data loss.
Cloning or imaging by selective heads, allows to “depop” bad heads for cloning; drives
with failing heads need to be cloned before the swap out of the MHA to ensure the maximum
level of recovery possible. It is possible to clone the HDD with eliminating the damaged head
during the cloning process. During the imaging process the most reliable data will be added to
the data copy only. During the imaging process the program will build a head map of the
drive depending on the type of drive. You may choose the head which will not be used during
the imaging process. Thus eliminating the potential bad head; from being used during the
reading and cloning process. The program uses a special algorithm program converting LBA
to CHS to clone this drive.
Allows cloning by hot swap method; After the coding list has been written from the donor
drive; to the patient drive; we are able to use the DC to recover data from the HDD. Attach
the donor drive to the DC and power on the unit to read the drive. Once the drive has been
read; power off the DC; and moves the PCB to the patient drive. Power back on the DC and
enter to Sector View. Here we will view the sectors in our data area of the patient drive. To
ensure cloning of the drive using the hot swap method it is recommended to clone using the
shadow disk technology.
The Shadow disk Feature; When the imaging of a damaged disk is not possible but data is
needed from the disk a shadow disk can be created. The shadow disk is divided into three
sections; reserved, index area, and shadow disk data area. The Data Compass console will
establish which LBA is being read for example LBA 1. Thus the data located in this LBA has
formed a shadow in the Shadow disk data area and backup. When reading this data it is only
necessary to read the data from the corresponding area inside the Shadow disk data area.
There is no need to read again the data from the source drive thus reducing the read time to
the source disk and protecting the data stored on this drive. If the LBA is 0 it indicates that the
LBA has not found the corresponding LBA in the Shadow disk data area and data from this
LBA will need to be read again from the source drive.
Emulate SA on Hitachi HDD to directly access the data area; Seriously bad sectors in the
SA can hinder the drive from being cloned. The DC has a special Hitachi SA analog
technology which can access the SA by uploading built in resources files. With the SA
Analog technology it is possible to have access to the SA and retrieve data from the drive.
Together with the Shadow disk technology and the SA Analog technology we are able to
retrieve data from a drive with sever bad sectors in the SA.
The features of the DC are unique and allow for recovery of a failing drive. Special programs
and features designed inside the DC allow for easy imaging and recovery using one device. I
find that the DC is a very unique tool in the recovery process and has benefited me in
recovery of hard drives. The features of the DC are very beneficial in the second stage of the
recovery process. This device has saved time, recovered more failing drives, and has more
features than other imagers on the market today.