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The customer needed the recorded video files from their CCTV surveillance system for use as evidence to pursue a prosecution for crimes that had been committed.

Unfortunately, the Digital Video Recorder was malfunctioning and unable to provide the required video files, so they came to us to see if we could recover the video files for them.

CCTV systems typically use the WFSO.4 filing system to store their data files onto, and we have specialised equipment that can handle recovering and processing that type of data. Safe to say, they came to the right place.

Upon opening the DVR box, we noticed that it contained two identical drives; this is a tell-tale sign that we are looking at a RAID setup in this case. Things can become much more complicated once RAID enters into the equation. Doing some further investigation led us to find out that the unit had the facility to have a redundant drive alongside its main operating drive (RAID 1). Not all CCTV systems have this facility, but it’s a handy feature to have, as long as it’s working!

Once we had the bare metal drives out of the DVR, diagnosis of each drive could commence.

WDC-WD10EZRX-00D8PB0 – Drive #1 was dead.
There was no power getting to the motor to spin it up.

WDC-WD10EZRX-00D8PB0 – Drive #2 spins up.
Testing of drive #2 can commence, and we find there are some firmware issues that we can work around, and a weak head #1 that we might be able to draw some life from before it gives up forever.

Once we had remedied the PCB problem that was causing drive #1 problems in powering up, we were able to get on with looking at the mechanical side of the drive’s functionality. The drive performed well on the PC-3000, but we noticed that there appeared to be a lack of data present on it.

Drive #1 imaged with no problems, but once we inspected the contents of the image, the WFSO.4 file system only revealed one camera folder, camera 1, and its contents were empty. Indicating that this hard disk drive had suffered a failure well before it was even able to perform any redundant tasks; it’s even possible it wasn’t installed correctly from the start. This example demonstrates the need to check your drives are working correctly regularly.

Drive #2 was a little more problematic, but we did manage to squeeze the last bit of life out of the weak head #1 and get a full image of the drive. All eight cameras were present, and all of their data was accessible but, and it’s a big BUT, the data was five months out of date! Meaning the CCTV DVR hard disk drives had failed long before the crimes had taken place; therefore, the evidence required was never recorded to the DVR. As a result, we could never recover that data for the customer, as it never existed in the first place.

So, in one sense this was an unsuccessful recovery, but on the other hand, it was a successful recovery, it was just out of date.

There is a lesson to be learned here; if you rely on multiple drive systems – for whatever reason – then you must implement a maintenance schedule to be sure those drives are functioning correctly.

If your hard drive is malfunctioning and you need the data from it, we highly recommend only seeking professional help in order to recover your data.


Heswall Computers and Data Recovery
3 Milner Road
CH60 5RT
United Kingdom

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