Genius bar wiped my iMac by mistake, lost everything, ADVICE?

Discussion in 'iMac' started by eye4ni, Dec 29, 2015.

  1. eye4ni macrumors member

    Apr 18, 2011
    So my wife tried to log on to her 2014 iMac this morning, and computer would not boot, black screen every time. This computer is used for work, as well as storing her thousands of our family photos (our 4 kids, pre-school, Sports, Disney vacation, etc.). I realize that it is not wise to not have a backup of these photos on an external drive (I bought one for her 2 years ago, she has not kept up on backing up), so when the computer would not even boot, we feared the worst.

    After setting up an appointment at a nearby Apple Store, the Genius Bar tech that assisted her informed her that the hard drive had failed, and needed to be replaced. They informed her that a hard drive replacement would cost $186, but required that they keep the failed hard drive, we would lose everything. Another option was to pay $265 to have the hard drive replaced and KEEP the failed/original hard drive. Not willing to give up hope on recovering our priceless photos from the original hard drive, she opted for the latter option, and STRESSED to the employee many times how important it was that we did not lose the photos, and to do NOTHING to our failed hard drive, we would investigate the options for attempting to recover the photos and data from the drive. She signed paperwork so they could begin work and was informed that the replacement would take 3-5 days.

    She received an email at about 7:00 pm informing her that the repair was complete and mac was ready for pick up. Surprised at how quickly the work was done, she called to verify that it was, in fact ready before we drove 40 min to pick it up. They told her that they ended up NOT needing to replace the hard drive, and that they were able to get the computer to restore after wiping the hard drive. We have lost thousands of priceless photos, taken on both my wife's iphone and Nikon DSLR camera. Genius bar tech made a huge mistake.... I visited the store tonight after the phone call and was able to speak with the manager. I don't want to jump to conclusions just yet, because after I left the store, refusing to take back our Mac as-is, the manager called to inform me that they were going to replace the hard drive in the computer, as well as provide the original [wiped] hard drive to me, all free of charge. Further, they asked for me to get quotes from a data-recovery specialist that can attempt to recover data from a wiped drive, and that they may be willing to pay for the service (which is not even guaranteed to work.....).

    I have been quite impressed with the products and services I have received from Apple thus far (2 imacs, 1 macbook pro, 8 ipads, 4 iphones, 3 ipod touches, 2 apple tv's and an apple watch, not to mention $60-70/month in the app store purchases/subscriptions). I have visited the Genius Bar on several occasions for repairs to my various electronics and have always been quite impressed with the quality of service that I had received.

    How should I expect this to play out and what is a fair solution? They messed up big time and tried feeding me the BS that the agreement says that Apple is not liable for lost data in any event, but I would assume that this only applies to them so long as they do as requested/signed for??? They had no business nor permission to wipe the hard drive. What should I do?

    Thanks in advance for any input!
  2. squidward macrumors newbie

    Dec 9, 2015
    Best corse of action is taking this to a data recovery specialist. It would probably cost anywhere from 500-2000. DriveSavers is the best but they cost $$$. If you want recommendations feel free to message me. I work in data recovery and have worked with other data recovery companies in the past.

    In my experience I've seen this run around 500-800 pending on amount of data+difficulty.
  3. merkinmuffley macrumors 6502a

    Dec 3, 2010
    Go ahead and take what they'll give you, some or all of the data might come back.
  4. Larry-K macrumors 68000

    Jun 28, 2011
    Doesn't even sound like a hard drive problem in the first place. Put a blank drive in a Mac and you'll still get a lit screen.

    There's no reason to wipe a drive you're replacing.

    Next time your Mac dies, take it to In-N-Out Burgers. They can't fix it either, but they won't try to charge you hundreds of dollars for a year-old item the manufacturer warrantied for 3 years, or wipe your hard drive without permission, and you can get a tasty burger at a reasonable price from friendly, skilled people being paid about the same, but without the pretentious title.
  5. elsonarah macrumors newbie

    Dec 29, 2015
  6. zhaoxin macrumors regular

    Jan 28, 2015
    I sorry to here this. But Apple does warns everyone before you ask for any repairing, you should backup your data first, as Apple may wipe you data or replace your hard drive.

    There is surely a mistake on Apple that leads to your data loss. Especially you wife had signed a paper for that. If the paper has instructions on Apple should replace the hard drive and also keeps the old one for you, then Apple should give you what you want, you can even open a lawsuit to Apple. However, Apple may also argue it does the wipe for you good as it will save you the money for replacing the hard drive. That depends on if the paper contains the instructions that you has clarified that you need you original drive untouched as there are important files in it.

    If you do not want to bring a lawsuit against Apple, you may should accept what it offers now and try to restore some data from you old hard drive. However, you may also consider to find some more professional data restore company to do the restore. As the first time of restore is very important. If you can't get some thing in the first restore, you probably can't get anything more next time.

    Now your old hard drive has been wiped and installed the latest OS X. That is the procedure that Apple does. It is very unlikely that Apple just wipes out the disk but not install the latest OS X. So some of the disk spaces are already overwritten by the OS X. What you need to do if you care most is the data, is to bring you old hard drive to a experienced data recovery provider as soon as possible.
  7. Apple fanboy macrumors Penryn

    Apple fanboy

    Feb 21, 2012
    Behind the Lens, UK
    All good advice above. Most important thing is to plug in your external drive and enable Timemachine back ups going forward. Then if this ever happens again, you are covered.
    Might also be worth looking at other offsite options as well.
  8. Porco macrumors 68030


    Mar 28, 2005
    First of all I am sorry this happened to you, it must be incredibly horrible and stressful, but remember and be thankful for the fact that at the end of the day it is just 'stuff' - even if it's precious, personal and irreplaceable stuff.

    I think it is standard practice for them to wipe drives in many circumstances, but given that you stressed to them to specifically not do that with your property (and agreed to pay extra money because of those instructions!) I agree they have messed up big time and it sounds like they know it.

    As others have said, I would take their offer of listening for a quote for data recovery and keep in touch with the manager. Always remain as calm and polite as possible while making sure they know you don't consider what they did acceptable, if they don't already know that (which it sounds like they probably do). I would very much *not* mention lawsuits at anything like this stage, as this might just alienate them and reduce your chances of any help (plus honestly I don't think you'd win, as galling and unfair as that might seem). Telling them, if you haven't already, that you are a repeat customer with lots of their products and services can never hurt either.

    Basically, if you're dealing with normal compassionate people they should want to help you out unless you give them a reason not to.

    It sounds like you know this already, but of course if and when the computer is returned to your possession with the old hard drive, make sure you don't do anything more with the old hard drive at all, leave it for the data recovery experts.

    I wish you all the best of luck in recovering as much data as possible.
  9. AppleMatt, Dec 30, 2015
    Last edited: Dec 30, 2015

    AppleMatt macrumors 68000


    Mar 17, 2003
    The data recovery people will likely be able to get back a lot of your pictures, however, some important points for you:
    1. Do not use, turn on, do anything with the drive. When a drive is erased what it actually does is leaves your files there, but allows them to be overwritten in future. It doesn't overwrite them there and then; that would take too long. But if you start putting the drive into computers, installing, trying to boot etc you'll be overwriting those files (because they have been marked as permissible to be over-written).
    2. What will be lost are any files which were overwritten by the install of OS X by the Genius Bar. Expect to take a hit here, albeit fingers crossed not much.
    3. When the data is restored you may find the metadata on your files is gone, partially recovered, or incorrect (eg all the dates become 1 June 1990).
    4. edit: I forgot to say, use a data recovery company that specialise in Macs. Reason being you'll be more likely to preserve your metadata / photos library etc. PC ones will skip over that.
    In UK law, your discussions prior to signing the agreement would usually be drawn into / vary it. But I wouldn't go down the law route or you'll get their back up: That they're offering to pay for data recovery says to me they know they are exposed here, so forcing that down their neck adds nothing. I'd go for the 'I get it, mistakes happen, let's work together to fix it' route.

    Realistically, manual backup is a chore. Also it won't protect you if your house burns down / is burgled etc. I use I've suffered a drive crash and they FedEx'd me the entirety of my files overnight. Highly recommended.

  10. lowendlinux Contributor


    Sep 24, 2014
    North Country (way upstate NY)
    There's not much more they can do. Now both you and Apple have leaned a lesson which I'm sure will be retained for a long time.
  11. JeffyTheQuik macrumors 68020


    Aug 27, 2014
    Charleston, SC and Everett, WA
    For the stuff that's on the drive, AppleMatt's advice is spot on.

    Going forward, I'd invest in offsite backup for pictures. I use iCloud for mine, and I am very judicious in what gets deleted. The kids use our old iPhones as iPods, and use my account for these types of things, and my photography library does get full. For $4/month, it's good insurance. I haven't looked at other services, but iCloud is a place to start.

    When I had my Windows Server business, this is how I'd stress backups to my small business customers:
    "This server and services is worth $10,000. Your insurance will take care of that if I were to take a sledge hammer to it. The data on it is worth hundreds of thousands to millions of dollars. Let's look at backup options."
  12. 556fmjoe macrumors 65816


    Apr 19, 2014
    I'm willing to bet that almost all of that can be recovered. Pull the drive and don't use it.

    The booting problem is probably still there though because none of the symptoms you describe indicate a failing hard drive.
  13. T'hain Esh Kelch macrumors 601

    T'hain Esh Kelch

    Aug 5, 2001
  14. torquer macrumors regular

    Oct 16, 2014


    I'm sorry for your problems, honestly. That being said, you and your wife do bear some responsibility. People need to back up their data. No system, drive, etc is infallible and multiple offsite backups are a requirement for anything you deem to be priceless data. For myself and my wife, we have iCloud backing up all photos, a Time Machine for local machine backups, and OneDrive as a secondary backup source. It would be nigh impossible for us to lose anything, so the physical machines we have are pretty unimportant.

    Its sad that so many people have to lose data before they understand the importance of backing up. Plus, Apple makes it so darned easy with iCloud, theres really no excuse.

    The person who said that Apple warns you in their legal language is right. If they give you any kind of good will credit, you should take it and learn this painful lesson for the future. You have no legal recourse.

    I don't mean to be harsh, but this has happened to way too many people way too often.
  15. desmond2046 macrumors regular


    Jun 2, 2015
    Columbus, OH, United States
    Sorry to hear your story. If it is HDD instead of SSD, you still have a big chance to recover most of your data. Softwares are a bit pricey (~$100) but at least you can locate your lost files before paying for it.

    However, big companies like apple have powerful legal teams that protect themselves using complicated agreements / fine prints... They are likely not responsible for data loss since they have clearly stated in their service agreement and by sending your computer to them you have agreed to it.
  16. Fishrrman macrumors G5


    Feb 20, 2009

    First thing to do is to take the old drive and put it somewhere safe.
    DON'T try to connect or use it at the moment.
    Just store it while you consider your options.

    As someone pointed out above, professional data recovery is VERY expensive. Are you willing to pay $1,000-2,000 to get the data back?

    There is another option available:
    Data recovery software and you do the recovery yourself.

    You will need:
    1. Data recovery software
    2. A USB/SATA docking station or a USB enclosure or a USB/SATA "dongle" adapter with which to connect the problem drive to the Mac.
    3. A second "scratch drive" to receive the recovered data.

    For data recovery software, I'd suggest trying DataRescue (may be called DataRescue4 now), from ProSoft. There are several other data recovery apps available, as well.

    They ALL work the same way:
    a. You download the app for free
    b. You "aim it" at the problem drive
    c. The software scans the problem drive, and presents you with a report and a list of recoverable files
    d. The software will only let you recover -ONE- file as proof it may work for you
    e. At this point you pay the registration fee, obtain a code, and enter it into the software
    f. The software now "goes to work" on the drive, and recovers whatever it can scavenge up to the "scratch drive".

    There's no promise you'll get everything back. You may recover a few, or some, or nearly all of the files you're looking for.
    Be aware that when you use data recovery software you may lose all previous file names and folder hierarchies. This is "par for the course", and the consolation is that you get the data itself back.

    Finally, you (and your wife) have learned a hard and bitter lesson about the need for backing up.
    Many of us have learned the same way.
    If your wife won't do the job of backing up her data, perhaps you should step in on a regular basis and learn to do it for her.

    From this day go forth, a wiser man.
  17. tyche macrumors 6502

    Jul 30, 2010
    This is a sad tale that shouldn't be repeated these days. No excuse not to have multiple backups especially of critical and relatively small amounts of data. I have 2-3 backups locally of important files including time machine and an offsite copy. This drive could have failed in its own. You could have a fire or theft.

    Start using time machine and/or an automated online backup service. Their cost is small and the benefit is huge.
  18. robpow macrumors regular


    Feb 10, 2007
    And do a restore now and then!
  19. Cape Dave macrumors 68000

    Nov 16, 2012
    This may be the best example ever of why backups are not optional. A single point of failure is just that.

    Like he said above, your first try is the best try at getting things back. Whether it is $800 or $2000 they should be damn happy to pay it.
  20. old-wiz macrumors G3

    Mar 26, 2008
    West Suburban Boston Ma
    And backup to separate disks... I always have THREE bootable backups for all of my Macs - different dates, 1 is in fireproof box
  21. dwfaust, Dec 30, 2015
    Last edited: Jan 1, 2016

    dwfaust macrumors 601


    Jul 3, 2011
    THEY messed up big time? It would appear that YOU messed up big time, too. You had a "computer [that] is used for work, as well as storing her thousands of our family photos (our 4 kids, pre-school, Sports, Disney vacation, etc.)" with NO backup.

    Stuff happens. But there is ZERO excuse for having a computer AND NOT backing up your data.

    I get really annoyed when stuff like this gets posted - somehow it's Apple's fault that you lost all of your pictures and other files. Back your stuff up. Period. Now, back it up AGAIN.
  22. blut haus macrumors regular

    blut haus

    Dec 27, 2015
    I hate to sound judgmental but honestly, as others have said, there really isn't an excuse for not backing up. I'm sorry for the anguish you're dealing with, no doubt. Hopefully you can get your items recovered. I understand not everyone has a home server setup, but in my case I use a Mac Pro with a file share that gets backed up for most everything. On top of that it's running as a time machine backups server, so everything is backed up twice.
  23. squidward macrumors newbie

    Dec 9, 2015
    If you're going to try the recovery yourself, make a clone of your drive so you never further harm the integrity of the original. Recovery companies may use/try different softwares or a combination of software(s) to yield the best recovery. If you want the best results I would take it to a specialist.
  24. eye4ni thread starter macrumors member

    Apr 18, 2011
    Thank you everyone for your replies. I do realize that we were in a bad position to start with, by not having a backup of all of the data on the drive. I accepted that there would be consequences when they said that they had to replace the drive... We stressed to them NOT to do ANYTHING to the original hard drive, just remove it from the computer and give it to us. At this point, I was fully responsible for my losses at that point. No finger pointing. That is the point in which THEY messed up, by wiping the drive that they were very clearly told NOT to wipe. Needless to say, my wife will be keeping her computer backed up from this point forward....

    I am going to pick up the computer today, along with the original hard drive which has been removed from the computer. I have received a quote from DriveSavers to the tune of $700-2700. I have forwarded the quote to the store manager.... so the ball is in their court now, will see how this pans out. Thanks again for all of the input and advice, it is appreciated!

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