Floods drown 138 Morphy Richards PCs

Data retrieved by Seagate Recovery Services

Domestic appliance manufacturer Morphy Richards had 138 PCs drowned in flash flooding in June, 2007. Within two hours its 21-acre site was under six feet of water. The company needed to get the data back from the PCs. Most of it had been backed up but some had not. (There’s a lesson here but we won’t go into it.)

Morphy Richards staff couldn’t just use one of the company’s own hair dryers. Such drying leaves a sticky residue on platters which causes head crashes. So it asked its local reseller, Q-tron, for help. It put Morphy Richards in touch with Seagate Recovery Services (SRS). As soon as the flood waters receded Morphy Richards staff recovered the affected hard drives and handed them over to SRS.

Jacob Ekker, EMEA marketing manager for SRS, said: “Our first job was to get the hard drives sent by secure transport from the Morphy Richards office in Mexborough to our facility in Amsterdam.” It used a courier company with its own dedicated driver, handling service and access to an airport.

Once at the lab in Amsterdam, Seagate’s data recovery experts made an assessment of the damage. The biggest issue was to clean the hard drives. Given the time spent submerged in water, each machine required cleaning with an ultrasonic solution, taking each piece out one by one. This was a mission-critical task and six technicians worked 24 hours a day for the first three days to complete the initial part of the process.

Next each drive was individually evaluated. Ekker said: “From header problems to surface damage, corrosion on the platters and system area damage – we saw it all, and knew it would have to be dealt with to a very tight schedule to maximise our opportunity of retrieving as much information as possible.”

Having ordered all the replacement parts needed, the lab team were divided into three groups with one preparing the hard drives and two others recovering the information. Everything was then stored on an external hard-drive, which could connect to any other machine.

In this way all but one of the hard-drives had had its data restored. Morphy Richards agreed to let SRS try a new proprietary technology called Signal Trace. This method of reading data without a drive involved taking the platters out of the clamshell cases and reconstructing the data using specialist algorithms. The drive was sent to Seagate’s specialist Recovery Services lab in Toronto, where the data was able to be recovered within a month.

Ekker said: “No other data recovery facility has the level of technology required to do this.”

Trevor Burrows at Morphy Richards said: “When the worst happens, you expect to experience a fairly significant level of disruption to your business and of course it took us a while to get systems back to normal. We had the systems in place to back-up and restore our mission critical data but thanks to Seagate we were able to retrieve those important bits and pieces stored locally that scheduled back-ups had not yet reached. I would recommend Seagate’s efforts to any other business that finds itself in a similar situation.”

The moral of the story is to backup drives offsite. Even then, unless continuous data protection technology is used you can lose data if disaster strikes. In that case the data is probably recoverable, obviously at a price. SRS can do this at its lab in Amsterdam.

The more critical the information is and the harder it is to replicate then it could even be worth sending an affected drive inter-continental distances and having it worked on for up to a month at a probable cost of thousands of pounds.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>