Spinrite on par with Craig Venter’s brilliance?

20 02 2009

some feedback i just sent to Steve Gibson, the creator of Spinrite (v6) at www.grc.com :

Hi Steve,

I’m a long time Security Now! listener & Spinrite user, and today was one of those blue moon days where Spinrite saved our bacon.  No dramatic ‘Special Ops’ story here :), but satisfaction & gratitude abound none the less, and perhaps a new point of view on why Spinrite is so awesome.

Our Foxpro developer’s old Dell laptop which had been trucking along fine for years, suddenly wouldn’t boot this morning, BSODing during every boot attempt, and as usual Safe Mode was no help.  He’s usually a stickler for doing frequent backups, but when I asked how long since the last backup, I got back only an embarrassed sheepish smile.  Oh boy…

Recognising immediately that this was probably Spinrite’s cue to enter from stage left, I put it to work, and in about an hour it had completed.  Although there was no record of any bad sectors found or corrected, I did notice it churn away for several minutes on a few spots and suspected I was on the right track (no puns intended!)

Sure enough it booted right up, and so far all looks to be intact.  A backup has now been performed, and the impetus to replace the laptop very soon has been renewed!  Just another day at the office for Spinrite, but a significant potential loss averted for us.

Thankyou so much for such a legendary product.  I promise to buy another couple of licenses to reach  my ‘consultants license’ status ASAP.

BTW, while doing a bit of research into SMART a while back, I stumbled across a hard-drive data recovery expert’s site, which had a page recommending data recovery & utility software.  At first I was surprised not to see Spinrite at all (let alone at the top of the list where it should be!), until I saw a note where he explains that he (paraphrasing) “disqualifies Spinrite because it doesn’t take a copy of all the readily-accessible data before attempting restorative measures, and thus puts more data at further risk”.

I understand the logic behind this argument, and I agree that in rare circumstances a drive may degrade to such an extent (or have physical damage to the heads, for example) and not be diagnosed until it’s hanging by the proverbial thread, and thence Spinrite’s thrashing may snap that last thread.

But you know what?  Having used Spinrite myself since the early 90s, and hearing all your testimonials on Security Now! every week for 3 years & hear you explain how it & hard-drives work, I’ve come to realise that most hard-drive’s magnetic media failures don’t fall into that severe category, and that Spinrite’s approach offers FAR more ‘bang for my buck’ than data recovery specialist services.

Whilst he’s probably just taking a very conservative approach (understandable in that industry), someone more cynical than myself might suggest this guy’s wowser attitude is not in his customer’s best financial interests!  Even more cynical people might wonder if some of these data recovery specialists secretly use Spinrite to recover data from customer’s drives and charge traditional (read: exorbitant) data recovery prices for it…

I’m reminded of the race to decode the human genome in the 90s, with the ‘purists’ using a stubborn narrow-minded linear sequencing technique that was threatening to take forever, and Craig Venter’s maverick scatter-gun recombination approach – which won the race.  I see your unique and novel approach to tackling magnetic media failure in exactly the same light.  Simply brilliant!

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