Computer Services

Tel 650.548.1010
Burlingame, CA USA


Dell's Happiest Customer

Revised on

Originally posted on May 25th, 2003

Michael Dell brings out the best in his customers.

{ click on any photo to enlarge }


Dell takes a quantum leap backward for one of it's customers...

One day in March 2003 a gentleman arrived in my store asking me if I couldn't recover some data off a broken laptop. I told him I'd give it a try and then he hoisted up a bad of parts.

The entire bag of parts were that of a fairly new Dell Inspiron Laptop that started out a fine looking machine but somehow it got in between two stubborn personalities. One being a inept Dell Customer Service Rep and the other my new client who's name will remain private.

Apparently, my client called Dell up to help him get his laptop to boot up. My naive client innocently believed everything Dell computer said in those flashy ads in the magazines and TV about "the best computer tech support" and thought it would be just a few moments of phone time to get back to being a productive user again...

Well after 4 hours of phone time, my client soon discovered that after all those cryptic commands, dozens of reboots, and acting like a proxy inept technician not only did Dell reformat his hard drive and lose all his data, but it still wouldn't boot up...

This left my client so infuriated that he had no other option other than to take the laptop out in the backyard and murder his Dell Number 1 laptop! Using a common hammer, he proceeded to pound his laptop into the earth taking his frustration out on Dell and the number 1 customer service ranking (according to most magazines...)

That's were I come in.

After calming down and thinking about what he had done his needs soon shifted to data recovery. He found my website through and in desperation gave me a call. That's when I saw the bag-o-dell-parts. At first I was amazed, then my amazement shifted to my natural state of servitude.

I told him I would give it my best and call him in a few days. The hard drive had a severe dent right on the spindle. I looked like it took a major hammer blow of about 300 pounds force. When I saw that, I thought that any data recovery was going to be a billion to 1 chance.

My client had all his tax data, Microsoft Money file, and, all his clients data. Backups you say? Nope. He didn't have anything backed up.

After carefully removing the hard drive cover plate, I saw the internal condition of the drive. The drive heads were smashed, the hard drive case housing was cracked, and to make matters worse, the platters didn't look like any kind of data recovery was possible. Most technicians would most likely turn their heads away and say 'NEXT' but I love going the next mile and I had a funny feeling...

After spending a few hours carefully removing the platters, I needed to find another working hard drive exactly like this one a IBM 20GB IDE to try a recovery attempt. I found one on ebay and waited for the drive to arrive.

It took me about 2 hours to once again carefully remove the platters from the working used drive from ebay and then install my clients platters. I got them in and then installed the drive into my personal HP 5440 laptop.

I'll be damned. It didn't boot up. So I tried to boot from a floppy disk and see files on the drive and to my amazement, I did see a perfect directory structure. Now I remember my client saying that the dumb ass Dell tech got him to use the Dell Restore CD to get the laptop to bootup so I know I had to do a reverse engineered reverse format to see if I could get anything back. Using the Dell Recovery CD wrote right over any data that was most important to my client and the Dell tech (according to my client) said that it would lose any of his data.

Dell had formatted the drive using FAT32 so I know that I had a good chance of recovering the data using the old Norton Utilities v5.0, my favorite for recovering data from DOS/FAT32 hard drives. Before I started that, I used my copy of Norton Ghost to actually do the data recovery one. I never work on the actual drive that has the problems because I don't want to soil the ground so to speak.

I finished the Ghost of the drive and ran the Norton Utils 5 on it using the Unformat command...

After several hours of the drive making really funny clicking sounds of which I've never heard before, I was presented with a recovery screen. It said it recovered about 1,100 files... I then took that data and moved it over to a USB drive so I could see if I could open it on another computer running XP Professional.

I got back the Money file and all his tax data and most of his clients data to my utter amazement!!

There is all was. Right up to the very last day he used it (about 2 weeks ago).

I called up my client and told him I had most of what he was looking for. A few files were missing, but it seems that I recovered about 95% of the files he needed. I burned a CD for him and he brought in a new laptop, not surprisingly, not a Dell and I have a client for life.

My client now comes in once every couple of months for me to do a update and a Ghosting. He now knows how to backup his system to a CDRW drive built into his laptop and shouldn't experience any more downtime.





Links and Stuff

Want a Dell?

Click here to download a zip file of more smashed Dell pictures.

Here's some negative press for Dell. Hey. they're only human right?

Dell cuts users warranties.

Dell spokeman caught selling some mary jane in New York.

Dell profiles it's customers. Won't sell to a person who owns a gun store... maybe Mr. Dell would like to live in Nazi Germany. They didn't like guns too... | 1675 Rollins Road, Suite B2 | Burlingame | California | 94010 | 650.548.1010