Performance and Final Thoughts
The RapidSpar is FAST! For good sectors, you are only limited by the slowest of the source or target drive speed. Thanks to hardware-specific reset capability and optimized settings via RapidNebula, bad sectors can be plowed through in ~1-2 seconds each (I’ve seen <1 seconds for some). This varies by drive manufacturer, as some drives are slower to respond to each reset, but a couple of seconds is way faster than the typical 20-30 seconds it takes for some consumer drives to give up on their own. Sometimes failing drives can hang completely during a recovery, but the RapidSpar can detect those situations and power cycle the drive all on its own! Several of the failed drives in my collection were not recognized by the BIOS of any PC that I attempted to connect them to, meaning no software tools could be used.
Of four such cases, three were successfully initialized by the RapidSpar (the fourth had major issues and was in obvious need of a mechanical repair). Out of nearly 20 total flaky drives tested, the RapidSpar was remarkably successful, even on a 6TB unit with a failing main bearing. That drive was constantly reporting bad sectors for every other tool I used (even a Tableau Forensic Bridge – another hardware imager), but the RapidSpar successfully imaged the entire 6TB in less than a day, and with only a couple of unreadable sectors to boot. By a couple, I mean literally TWO sectors (1,024 bytes total out of 6,000,000,000,000)! That same drive mechanically failed a few hours later, meaning it would not have lasted through any software-based recovery effort.
Yes, I know, it's pricey, but the RapidSpar is less than half the cost of more advanced hardware-based recovery gear. Services using similar tools charge ~$300+ per recovery, so owning a RapidSpar makes more sense for IT shops and mom-and-pop computer repair places who will see a bit of volume. Considering the unit pays for itself after half a dozen recoveries should ease the price tag just a bit. Just remember that while it dramatically increases your chances of a recovery compared with software tools alone, it doesn't work miracles. There will still be mechanical failures that require a clean-room repair, but hopefully you can get those drives plugged into a RapidSpar before that happens.
The RapidSpar is a truly impressive data recovery device. The DeepSpar team have distilled a subset of their vast recovery experience into a product that can initialize drives not even recognized by most systems. Their RapidNebula service provides cloud-based drive-specific optimal recovery settings to the unit, enabling bad sector handling at speeds rivaling any software tool. The included RapidSpar Assistant software is file-system aware, and allows Targeted Recovery of data, allowing surgical imaging and extraction of only the files you are after, saving time and maximizing the chances of success for failing drives. I’ve been throwing faulty drives at this demo unit for almost a year now, and I have come away extremely impressed with just how many high-end recovery features have managed to trickle down into this powerful little unit.
What’s more impressive is how aggressively the DeepSpar team have developed the RapidSpar during its ‘beta’ cycle. I’ve seen bugs squashed and patched within days or even hours of reporting them. It is now clear to me that these folks have a lot of pride in the devices they make, and their enthusiasm about the technical aspects of data recovery is just refreshing to say the least.
I highly recommend the RapidSpar for any IT department, computer repair shop, or even data forensics operation. It's worth its weight in gold even as a standalone disk imager.
I kind of wonder how this is
I kind of wonder how this is different from a software solution if it’s just interfacing with the drive through ATA commands. For all I know, it could just be running a standard PC OS with some software on top of it.
I could see the benefit of something like this out in the field where you might not have a proper PC with you, but since it’s just ATA, I doubt there’s anything this can do that software couldn’t. If anything it’s more of a hardware dongle to make it so you can’t pirate their software. The one thing that one could maybe argue is that its SATA controller and drivers may be more consistent so you can maybe rule out any poor behavior there. If you’re that worried, though, you’re going to be using a service.
So overall, a useful tool to have if you’re out a lot and you need something in your toolbox to allow you to recover hard drives, but I wouldn’t treat it as something magically better.
I’m not familiar with hard
I’m not familiar with hard drive interfacing, but this part of the article suggests that a software solution won’t do what a hardware solution can do.
“Since mechanical devices tend to degrade further after the first few signs of trouble, realize that with many data recovery efforts, you may be operating on borrowed time (one such case here). Software-based imaging tools are unable to perform a critical function for speeding up the dealing with those bad or slow sectors, as they cannot issue the hardware-based Reset command. Only dedicated recovery hardware can do this, which means all software tools must rely on the drives’ own timeout to occur for every single read attempt, a process that can take longer than 20 seconds *per sector*. Multiply that out and some drives would take weeks or months to image. One of my previous software image attempts took a week to reach 1%, and that was only a 400GB drive! That same drive later failed completely. If I had access to a better tool at that time, I would have recovered far more of that drive before it failed, easing my recovery efforts.”
(The anon OP here apparently
(The anon OP here apparently didn't read the article).
That said, I have yet to see any software recovery app that can instruct the SATA controller to issue a hardware reset to the drive. In fact, SATA controllers will typically hang until they get a response from the drive, meaning that even if a piece of software was able to direct a reset if the drive was taking too long to respond, that command would be ignored until the controller hit an internal timeout or received a timeout-related (read error) reply from the failing drive.
If you've tried working with unreadable sectors you've likely seen this in action. All other drive activity halts and the system hardware drive access light remains lit solid. With some controllers, even activity to *other* drives on other SATA channels halts until the outstanding IO has been serviced in some way (successful read or read error reply received). This is mainly because PC hardware is simply not purpose built for data recovery. It just gives the drive as long as it needs to provide an answer to the request, since it assumes that it needs *all* data to be successfully read. In that respect, data recovery is the art of quickly working around the bad parts within a reasonable amount of time.
The Rapidspar has a highly
The Rapidspar has a highly specialized and advanced ATA controller that has many features and abilities a standard ATA controller does not have. It can rewrite firmware on the drive, selectively turn off and on heads, reset the drive on the fly, and a host of other critical commands that are far beyond the ATA controller in a PC.
Fantastic article and review
Fantastic article and review Allyn. Data recovery is a complex operation, and having the proper tools is critical. This tool you reviewed is amazing. I am partners with an data recovery firm for my consulting business, but this is an intriguing option for shops and medium to large IT departments within companies. I often wonder what drive recovery percentages involve actually needing a clean room environment, compared to this level you talk about here.
Thanks. I don’t know the
Thanks. I don't know the percentages, but this sort of device certainly helps pull files or images from drives that wouldn't cooperate even with a standard write-blocking hardware imager. That has to increase your odds, perhaps by more than the larger data recovery places would be happy about, as it might steal away some of their easier work.
It's certainly not going to make the big operations disappear. Clean rooms aside, there are a lot of logical-only recoveries out there that need the 'big guns' brainpower and experience of the large recovery firms. There are plenty of ways to corrupt the contents of a mechanically sound drive in a way that makes recovering the files extremely tedious and time-consuming, and not all logical recovery software can handle all situations. As an example, I recently recovered an SD card with a corrupted partition table. It imaged just fine, but it could not be mounted and no logical recovery apps were able to lock onto the correct partition offset. The answer ended up being to quick format (!!!) the SD card and re-running a logical recovery on *that* image. All files were recovered, but it was knowledge of that particular trick that made the magic happen. Knowledge and experience typically trump the tools when things get squirrely.
I won't even get into RAID recoveries (saving that for the next article), but that takes an even higher level of experience and know-how. I've done such recoveries myself, and it was an extremely complex operation that required the coding of my own tools to automate some of the work.
I couldn’t agree more. There
I couldn’t agree more. There is no substitute for experience. Also there is the business side, and many small IT service firms just won’t have the capacity that a larger outfit does that does nothing but data recovery.
Formatting is data destructive. There is NEVER any reason to do this on a drive that you need to recover data from. In any case recovering a “corrupt” partition table is trivial. I do it almost every week in one or more storage forums. I recommend DMDE for this purpose.
how does this differ from an
how does this differ from an $80 copy of spinrite? I don’t see how this would work any different except for being more expensive and coming with adapters.
SpinRite can’t issue hardware
may possibly be writing back incorrect data to modern drives that do not correctly handle read-ignoring-ECC commands. I have a query in with Steve Gibson on this one. *EDIT* I've confirmed with Steve that SpinRite does some pre-run checks to only use DynaStat when it is safe to do so.
All points brought up in this article. It may be helpful to read it prior to commenting.
Further, if an $80 item was the solution to all problems, data recovery would not be such a large business. I realize that it works for a lot of folks, but people should be aware that there are risks involved, especially if the drive is about to fail completely. A drive that I was repeatedly imaging (at high speed, with the RapidSpar), completely failed after about 20 hours of work. That very drive would not have made it through a single SpinRite level 4 pass and would have died long before any data could be recovered. With the RapidSpar, I had a complete copy of that 6TB drive (minus 1024 bytes) overnight.
I whould be happy if we could
I whould be happy if we could target a drive in SR! 🙂
For what it is, is a good tool.
SpinRite is NOT a data
SpinRite is NOT a data recovery program. At no point does the program prompt to copy a single sector from the failing hard drive to a healthy drive. It doesn’t even take the time, that I have ever been able to see, to test and confirm that each read/write head is actually properly reading and writing. I’ve seen thousands of drives that are falsely showing bad sectors because of weak PCBs, weak heads and even firmware issues which, when corrected, read 100%. If you don’t fix those issues first and then try to remap the sectors, you are just going to make things worse, without a way to undo the changes.
If you insist running SpinRite on a drive, at least follow the advice given in the manual and make sure that all the data on the drive is first backed up.
Spinrite is potentially data destructive. You must NOT use it on a failing drive.
In any case most of the claims made in respect of Spinrite haven’t been relevant for the past 30 years.
Starting the article I was
Starting the article I was expecting “it’s just a little Linux PC in a box running dd with a write-blocker on one end”, but pleasantly surprised to see this is a remarkably well thought-out device with actual advantages over a roll-your-own software solution.
Dat price tho.
Dat price tho.
We purchased one of these in
We purchased one of these in March of 2016. We’ve been able to recover many hard drives that no other process would touch. Yes, the price is steep, but we were able to recoup our investment in less than 60 days!
We purchased Rapid spar tool
We purchased Rapid spar tool in 2 months back. Presently I am using. I am in this field since 10 years. This tool is not worth to purchase for the price.My suggestion is not to purchase this tool. Reviews available in the site also fake.
It’s very hard to find
It’s very hard to find reliable reviews in the DR industry.
Thx for sharing