Apple Lies to Customers about Data Recovery from Damaged iPhones

In this fascinating video, the CBC follows a couple who needed to recover thousands of pictures from an iPhone after it was dropped in water. The video shows how Jessa Jones, who specializes in iPhone repair, is able to get the dead phone working again so that the couple can get their priceless photos back.

The kicker, though, is that Apple’s official forums ban Jessa and others who point out this option to iPhone users. In fact, users are frequently told that recovering data from dead or damaged iPhones is impossible, and that those who claim they can do so are scammers. Jones herself regularly has her posts deleted and account banned for simply stating the truth–that there is a good chance that a third party repair service will be able to assist in recovering the data.

As Jones points out in a subsequent video on Louis Rossman’s YouTube channel, Apple is actively harming its users with this absurd tone deaf approach. Someone who seeks to recover their memories from a device deserves more from Apple than boilerplate “if it wasn’t backed up to iCloud it can’t be recovered” nonsense.

Shame on Apple.

Backblaze on Data Reliability/Durability with Its Cloud Storage Service

Backblaze recently published an in-depth look at how durable/reliable data that is stored with its service is–i.e., what are the odds that you’ll want to retrieve a specific set of data from the service and find out that won’t be able to?

At the end of the day, the technical answer is “11 nines.” That’s 99.999999999%. Conceptually, if you store 1 million objects in B2 for 10 million years, you would expect to lose 1 file. There’s a higher likelihood of an asteroid destroying Earth within a million years, but that is something we’ll get to at the end of the post.

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When you send us a file or object, it is actually broken up into 20 pieces (“shards”). The shards overlap so that the original file can be reconstructed from any combination of any 17 of the original 20 pieces. We then store those pieces on different drives that sit in different physical places (we call those 20 drives a “tome”) to minimize the possibility of data loss. When one drive fails, we have processes in place to “rebuild” the data for that drive. So, to lose a file, we have to have four drives fail before we had a chance to rebuild the first one.



The analysis then goes on to present a lot of math related to the time it takes for Backblaze to rebuild any data lost and its overall drive failure rate, but the general thrust is that it is extremely unlikely that Backblaze would ever suffer data loss from normal technical failures.

But at some point, we all start sounding like the guitar player for Spinal Tap. Yes, our nines go to 11. Where is that point? That’s open for debate. But somewhere around the 8th nine we start moving from practical to purely academic. Why? Because at these probability levels, it’s far more likely that:

  • An armed conflict takes out data center(s).
  • Earthquakes / floods / pests / or other events known as “Acts of God” destroy multiple data centers.
  • There’s a prolonged billing problem and your account data is deleted.

There is one thing of interest in the odd way Backblaze concludes its analysis, however,

Eleven years in and counting, with over 600 petabytes of data stored from customers across 160 countries, and well over 30 billion files restored, we confidently state that our system has scaled successfully and is reliable. The numbers bear it out and the experiences of our customers prove it.

Note that this doesn’t say that they’ve never come across a file they were unable to restore due to technical, backend reasons (rather than issues related to customer credit cards, etc.)

Recuva – Excellent Deleted File Recovery Tool for Windows

So I’m a dumbass and in the process of attempting to make a 1:1 copy of every file on a full 2 TB hard drive, actually managed to delete them all before I realized what I was doing (did I mention I’m a dumbass sometime). Fortunately once I realized there were no longer any files on my drive, I did stop everything immediately so no data would overwrite the actual file data. Then I started looking for recovery options.

I finally settled on Piriform’s Recuva recovery software which had a number of things going for it.

First, it’s free. And not free as in “it’s free for the first 50 gb of files and after that you’ll need to pay us” but free as in I was able to recover every single deleted file on my hard drive without paying free. Even the Professional version is dirt cheap at just $24.95. That compares well to the $80 its nearest competitor wanted.

Second, it worked very well. When I realized my files had been deleted I did a few Google searches on reviews of data recovery software and quite a few roundups of such software rated Recuva as the best for recovering deleted files. A quick test showed why that was the case. Recuva quickly analyzed my hard drive and gave me an exhaustive list of all the deleted files on the drive, whether they were recoverable, etc.

It took me just a few minutes using some advanced filters to tell Recuva exactly what I wanted recovered, where I wanted the files to be written to, and I was on my way. Many hours later I had recovered all of the deleted files in their original directory structure, after which I made a Success Kid fist and cheered.

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