Greg's laptop is caught in a reboot loop. What can he do? Leo suspects that Greg's hard drive is failing, causing the laptop to stall during boot up. Leo says he can use SpinRite by GRC to move the data off bad sectors and mark them to avoid in the future. But the software is expensive and hard drives are cheap. If he needs to get his data, though, it's worth trying. Leo recommends that Greg buy a new drive, and he should get an SSD while he's at it.
Gary can't boot up his computer, not even in Safe Mode. What can he do to fix it? Leo says it's probably the hard drive that's preventing the bootup, and that's why Gary is getting the blue screen of death. It can be one tiny bit or sector that can cause it. Gary could use his Windows Install Disk, and during the install process, it will give him the option of repairing the OS. It's worth a try.
Denise's external hard drive can't be read by her Mac. How can she recover it? Leo says that there are disc recovery tools that could help Denise. One is called SpinRite, but it's a bit expensive and is difficult to use on a Mac. AlSoft's Disc Warrior is another good option, but it may not be the best option because it can only fix soft failures.
Peter is having problems connecting his Echo to the internet, but his computer is still having problems and he thinks it has died out. Leo says it's probably coincidental that the computer went down, but it may be related since Peter said the connection interrupted and a power surge may have occurred. If Windows was indexing the hard drive, it could have spewed a word salad of 1s and 0s, making the hard drive unreadable.
Dennis' computer has a Western Digital Passport external hard drive that mounts, but it can't be read it or ejected. Then it crashes the computer. Leo says that it's a USB device that isn't fully mounting. It's probably an issue with either the USB controller on his computer, or the cable itself. Dennis should try using a different USB cable first. Then he should try plugging it into another USB port and see if he can replicate the issue. The USB driver may also be corrupted.
Frank has been using the same password for years and now suddenly the password won't work on his Windows Surface. Could the hard drive be going out? Leo says that it's more likely a keyboard issue. He should check the CAPS lock, SCROLL lock and NUM lock to make sure they aren't enabled. Another thing to do is enable the feature that will allow him to see his password as he types it.
Adam's laptop hard drive became unreadable when a battery failure happened and he needs to get the pictures off it. Leo says that since the hard drive can still be accessed, he may be able to get them back with a recovery software utility. Piriform Recuva is the one that Leo recommends. The key thing, though, is to never write to the drive again until he manages to get the data he needs off of it.
Mark is having trouble getting SpinRite to run on his Windows 8.1 machine. Leo says that SpinRite is a great utility for evaluating the hard drive. But it can't be run from Windows, he'll have to run it from a USB key. If that's not going to work due to the format of the drive (Windows 8 uses GPT) then call Gibson Research tech support. They know a ton about how to get SpinRite working.
Abel has a friend who's 2007 Thinkpad has started acting up. The fan needed replacing, so he fixed it and now after rebooting, none of the passwords work. So he used some utilities from the Ultimate Boot CD to get into the administrator account. Leo says an administrator can take control of all the files and then back them up. He could also move the data to a new account that he creates. It looks like the desktop has changed its appearance and some files have disappeared.
David has an external 2TB Seagate Baracuda hard drive and he hasn't been able to transfer the data from it, because it's damaged. Can he roll his own data recovery or does he have to pay for it to be recovered? Leo says that there are several levels of data recovery. Level 1 is a soft error -- a data error caused by a bad block. It's easily fixable with a good utility. Level 2, on the other hand, is a physical issue. This could be a scratched drive, a bent lever, etc. If he has a level 2 error, he's going to pay ten times the amount to repair it -- often in the thousands.