Every day we receive hundreds of data storage devices to recover data. Most of them are similar, but few are always challenging, old, and require research. We love working with older devices, going back in time, and reading old datasheets and service manuals. This time we received an old and failed 2TB Apple Time Capsule with valuable photos stored in it.
Apple Time Capsule Data Recovery
This device is also called Airport Time Capsule. Apple made this device to combine multiple functions in a single device. It is a wireless router with four Ethernet LAN ports and 1 WAN port.
It also has an internal hard drive acting as a small NAS home server. Apple Mac users could backup their Mac computers to this device using the Time Machine backup disk wirelessly.
In addition, the hard drive installed in this device is a server-grade HDD with extended reliability. The device is well made. Despite this, everything has its life period. It was an Apple Time Capsule with a 2TB hard drive.
Our client wanted to restore all files, such as family photos and videos, stored on the device. He did not know what happened to this device, but he tried to get the data off of it. After that, our client took it to Geek Squad to get help, but they could not do it.
The customer found us from Google and brought the device to our certified lab for a free evaluation. The Apple Time Capsule was not even opened. The device was sealed, and all screw covers were intact.
Inspection of Apple Time Capsule
Initially, we removed the cover to get access to the hard drive. The most important part of this device was the hard disk drive because it held customer photos and video files. Working in the certified lab, we could easily remove the hard drive. The failed hard drive in this time capsule was one of Western Digital’s quality models.
Eventually, the hard drive failed despite it being a server-grade hard drive from the WD brand. The hard drive did not click when powered. It successfully initialized and gave readiness. We could backup all the Service Area modules and get access to the first and last sectors.
Once we did the reading writing head test, one of the heads failed the test. The failed head could not read and write data at all.
The Best Strategy In Time Capsule Recovery
We cloned the hard drive using good magnetic heads while the hard drive worked. It is the safest method before changing the heads in the certified cleanroom. So we cloned the device using all the working heads and then moved to the cleanroom file repair and recovery. We use a cleanroom environment to prevent any particles in the air from dropping on the magnetic surfaces to damage the data.
Opening the hard drive and changing interior parts of it should be done only in a cleanroom. Our company has a massive database of donors. In addition, there are ancient and very new hard drives. Our engineers searched the donor database and found a compatible spare part after successfully changing the head, and we continued copying the remaining data.
We got a full copy of the hard drive, which means we did not need this hard drive anymore. Thus, data recovery engineers will continue working on a binary image from now on.
A sparsebundle on Apple Time Capsule
It is a disk image format introduced by Apple in OSX 10.5. This disk image format uses the hard drive effectively to store files without using its total capacity. The concept was excellent, but it is not in use at the moment because much more effective file systems have developed.
If we talk about it from a data recovery perspective, the problem is that almost all the data recovery software available on the market does not support this format. For this purpose, we developed our internal software to translate this legacy disk image format to a readable filesystem to get the correct folder and file names.
We could successfully mount the sparsebunde disk image files using our proprietary data recovery software and recover all files, including lost photos and videos. The restored from the time machine was saved to the new external SanDisk SSD drive and shipped it to the customer’s mailing address.