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My wife's Sony Vaio computer crashed. It's not even 2 years old yet, and was up to date with all virus protection. It has about a year's worth of photos on it of our children that have not been saved to our external harddrive. I did all the trouble shooting I know how to do (I'm usually pretty good at fixing this sort of stuff), using the internet as my helper, googling the error code, going on Sony Vaio and Microsoft troubleshooting forums, and watching youtube tutorials on possible fixes. Nothing worked. I called Sony, and they tried to help me over the phone and couldn't figure it out. They said take the computer to a store, so we went to Best Buy.

Best Buy charged us $100 for their Level 1 data retrieval/download, and we had to pay for a $27 thumb drive to store the photos. After assuring us that this should be an easy retrieval based on how easily the harddrive connected to their devices and booted right up, they called tonight saying that the harddrive was fried and they were unable to retrieve anything. They said that they could send it to "Level 2" for another $500, but I'm starting to feel like I'm being ripped off. They told us that the computer automatically tried to push the Windows 10 upgrade, and this caused the computer to crash (based on the error code), which has supposedly been a pretty common thing.

So now we are losing our minds and our money trying to save a year's worth of photos of our children. Thousands of very special photos; an entire portion of our kids' childhood possibly erased forever! Saving the pictures is all we care about, and now we know to backup our files weekly or monthly at least. This was a fairly new computer, and I've never had a computer crash this bad, not even from a virus.

Is Geek Squad ripping us off? Are they usually pretty good at finding and retrieving files like this? We can't afford $500. I wonder if a local computer tech store would be able to do the same thing only cheaper?

Has anyone ever heard of someone contacting Microsoft or Sony about this automatic Windows 10 push that caused this computer to crash, and is causing us to spend a lot of money we don't really have? If so, did they succeed at getting Microsoft or the computer manufacturer to pay for the data transfer and/or a new computer?

Please help if you can! We don't want to lose these pictures or have to spend all of this money if there is a better solution.
 

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Kevin, the only experience I have had in that area was a hard drive that crashed and fried back while I was still working. It was part of a server where we stored customer files (I worked at a printing company). It did cost about $500 to get the data from that drive, but I believe the company had insurance that paid for it. Is there any chance your homeowner's insurance would cover it? Was there maybe a power surge that could have caused it, something that would come under your insurance?

Having lost half a lifetime of photos in the flood we went through 2 years ago, I sympathize with you totally. Our photos were not digital, however, so there's no retrieving them. Perhaps you will have a tax refund you could use? Also, for that price, I would definitely require a guarantee that they could retrieve the data--no data, no money. I also remember that it took a while to get it done, not sure why, maybe today there's better technology.

Susan

Afterthought... My old PC keeps popping up with a notice to download and upgrade to Windows 10, but I have been able to ward it off, it hasn't been automatic. Is there any possibility you can wade through the whole Microsoft tech support and find out if there's anything they can suggest?
 

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Some consolation... You do have quite a few good photos on the forum here, I would think that you could download them back when you get a good PC up and running again. Then burn DVDs! And I should take my own advice on that...

Susan
 

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....After assuring us that this should be an easy retrieval based on how easily the harddrive connected to their devices and booted right up, they called tonight saying that the harddrive was fried and they were unable to retrieve anything. They said that they could send it to "Level 2" for another $500, but I'm starting to feel like I'm being ripped off.....
Are there any techie guys you may know from work that may attempt it for you? In fact, if you are okay with it, can I contact a guy I used to work with, he's an IT wizard. He now works down in South Carolina, but he owes me some favors, at least he could point you in the right direction, let you know whether they are trying to put a fast one over on you. Let me know.

Susan
 

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Is Geek Squad ripping us off? Are they usually pretty good at finding and retrieving files like this? We can't afford $500. I wonder if a local computer tech store would be able to do the same thing only cheaper?

Has anyone ever heard of someone contacting Microsoft or Sony about this automatic Windows 10 push that caused this computer to crash, and is causing us to spend a lot of money we don't really have? If so, did they succeed at getting Microsoft or the computer manufacturer to pay for the data transfer and/or a new computer?

Please help if you can! We don't want to lose these pictures or have to spend all of this money if there is a better solution.
Is your warranty done? I'm not sure how long the manufacturer's warranty was. I went through something similar with an Acer and Staples this year. The firey, hot place would freeze over before I gave them money to fix a 6 month old computer. After getting the machine back from "Staples Repair Center" I still had problems. I ended up taking it to the computer shop on campus. It took him less than a day to figure out the HD was shot. As luck would have it he is a certified Acer repair center so it didn't have to be sent away to be repaired and it was repaired on warranty so cost me nothing.

Lesson learned, never trust big box marts for computer hardware or trouble shooting. And $500 seems like A LOT for troubleshooting and data retrieval. Heck, that's more than a replacement hard drive.

I haven't heard of issues with Windows 10. I didn't download it for either computer. I hate Windows 8 despite using it everyday. Windows 10 I've heard is worse. I imagine Microsoft/Sony would say it's your problem because they won't want to admit it's a problem. The automatic push for the Windows 10 download excuse sounds fishy too. I have two computers and I've been annoyed with the constant reminders that I can get a free upgrade but it hasn't tried to download to either computer without my okay (not given).
 

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A Windows upgrade will not do physical damage to your drive. If the disk is now bad its just coincidence with the timing of the upgrade. It could very well be corruption to bootloader or file allocation table or several other things that are not physical damage. You said they were able to boot up your drive? Well that's a good sign. Them saying its fried....not so good but I'd be skeptical for sure.

I'd get the computer back from them and remove the hard drive. Buy a compatible disk caddy for a SATA drive and put the drive in it. You then just plug the drive caddy into a running windows PC via USB and see if your drive appears. If it does and you can browse the contents you then simply find the location of your photos and copy them out. This would cost you about $30. If the disk doesn't come up then you may indeed have physical damage....but make sure you try it on more than one PC. Your recourse then is to find a hard drive data retrieval service. You ship them the disk and they can work miracles with damaged disk to get your data off...but you'll pay a premium. These services are likely beyond geek squad capability. However, based on what you wrote I'd certainly give the first approach a try.
 

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It's been a long while since I worked as tech in a computer store and I haven't kept up to date with the latest OS troubleshooting. That said: there is a big difference between a crash (error code or blue screen) and a hard drive being fried (meaning it has physically failed). If the drive is still working then there may or may not be hope of retrieving your pictures. If the drive has physically failed then the only way to retrieve and files would be to take it or send it to a facility that has a clean room. They then remove the platters that store the data and place them in a new drive system to pull the data without booting through the OS provided it isn't a solid state drive. Yes...it is expensive and there is no guarantee that the files were not damaged during the failure. Either way there usually isn't a cheap to get what you are looking for. $500 would be about right for a charge for this type of service.
Now, have you tried to do a REPAIR (NOT a new installation) of the previous OS using the original CD or the recovery partition on the drive? Do you have the means to get and run a hard drive diagnostic tool to see if in fact the hard drive is physically failing or failed?

I don't know what type of places you have available to you for local troubleshooting/repair but I have never been a fan of Geek Squad. For a good number of years I spent my days fixing things our local Geek Squad messed up or said there was no fix for. They actually used to call the shop I worked in to ask our advise... that speaks for itself.

I feel for you. It is the curse of the digital age. Our memories can be lost in an instant to no fault of our own.
I wish you success in you file recovery..
 

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A Windows upgrade will not do physical damage to your drive. If the disk is now bad its just coincidence with the timing of the upgrade. It could very well be corruption to bootloader or file allocation table or several other things that are not physical damage. You said they were able to boot up your drive? Well that's a good sign. Them saying its fried....not so good but I'd be skeptical for sure.

I'd get the computer back from them and remove the hard drive. Buy a compatible disk caddy for a SATA drive and put the drive in it. You then just plug the drive caddy into a running windows PC via USB and see if your drive appears. If it does and you can browse the contents you then simply find the location of your photos and copy them out. This would cost you about $30. If the disk doesn't come up then you may indeed have physical damage....but make sure you try it on more than one PC. Your recourse then is to find a hard drive data retrieval service. You ship them the disk and they can work miracles with damaged disk to get your data off...but you'll pay a premium. These services are likely beyond geek squad capability. However, based on what you wrote I'd certainly give the first approach a try.
^^^THIS^^^ is good advise
 

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A Windows upgrade will not do physical damage to your drive. If the disk is now bad its just coincidence with the timing of the upgrade. It could very well be corruption to bootloader or file allocation table or several other things that are not physical damage. You said they were able to boot up your drive? Well that's a good sign. Them saying its fried....not so good but I'd be skeptical for sure.

I'd get the computer back from them and remove the hard drive. Buy a compatible disk caddy for a SATA drive and put the drive in it. You then just plug the drive caddy into a running windows PC via USB and see if your drive appears. If it does and you can browse the contents you then simply find the location of your photos and copy them out. This would cost you about $30. If the disk doesn't come up then you may indeed have physical damage....but make sure you try it on more than one PC. Your recourse then is to find a hard drive data retrieval service. You ship them the disk and they can work miracles with damaged disk to get your data off...but you'll pay a premium. These services are likely beyond geek squad capability. However, based on what you wrote I'd certainly give the first approach a try.
This is correct.

First, the ~$500 price is more or less accurate, but for an actual professional data recovery service working on an extensively damaged hard drive. I wouldn't trust anyone at BestBuy to change a light bulb.

The above approach is what I would do, and have done, with my own drives. It's a simple process and usually fairly successful.

OP, I'll send you a PM in a sec.
 

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What you could have done/can do is download a version of linux/ubuntu onto a thumb drive, and then boot the computer with that.

It is a much simpler operating system.

Obviously if the hard drive is damaged then it's another story. Maybe it is.

Problem with giving it to a company you don't know/trust is they could have damaged the hd since you gave it to them.

Best imo to find someone who fixes laptops in spare time or a small shop. Then the guy who picks up the thing is gonna fix it with out it going through numerous hands.
 

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As others have said go with the hard drive caddy. You install the drive in the caddy and plug in a usb cable, to another pc, the computer will see the caddy as another Hard Drive if the drive isn't damaged?? It won't matter that it won't boot.
 
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