The FDR Story

Some have asked about the history of FDR and how this service evolved. So here’s my story.

After working many years as a Linux and Windows Systems Administrator I started a side business providing computer repair services to mainly residential clients in my local area, the Dorchester section of Boston, USA. I worked from a small shop front on a busy secondary road. I operate by appointment only and basically just use the shop to meet clients when they drop off their computers for repair. It’s convenient in that my house is located just a minute away behind the shop.

Now historically as part of my day job as a Systems Administrator I was performing logical data recovery on the systems that I supported so when I started seeing computers in the shop with failing hard drives I naturally put my data recovery experience to work.

Data recovery can often be a slow tedious process and it involves a lot of just waiting around so rather than hang out waiting in the shop I started performing data recovery jobs over the network from my house. I would boot the client’s computer in the shop with a standard Linux boot CD. Then set everything up so I could connect to the client’s computer from the house. This arrangement worked well and was preferable to me as it’s much more comfortable to be working from my office inside the house.

So I performed data recovery jobs this way for quite some time until one day in the Spring of 2010 I was working another job and the idea popped into my head. What if the remote computer instead of being a stones throw away in my shop was actually much much further away in say another city like New York or even London. The data recovery methods I use should work anywhere in the world as long as there is a network connection. Sure I would need the person on the remote end to do some setup work but in theory it should be possible to perform remote data recovery this way.

Excited at the possibilities I talked the idea over with others and was surprised at the level of negativity I heard back. Won’t the setup be way too complicated for a typical user? How would you get past firewalls? What happens when the network connection blinks and you lose connectivity? If your idea is so good then why aren’t the big data recovery shops doing it?  You’re going to do it for free and work off donations? It sounds too good to be true people are going to think it’s a scam. Good luck with getting donations no one is going to pay you.

Undaunted I proceeded to develop my data recovery CD. Sure there would be issues to work out but in my mind the basic concept was sound. And the appeal and value of delivering data recovery services to clients anywhere in the world seemed worth pursuing. To make a long  story short after several months of development and testing my recovery CD was ready to launch into the wild and I started my service in January 2011.

Since that time I’ve been able to recover data for many satisfied clients. And I’ve made additional enhancements to the mix of recovery software on my CD and improved my process to add new recovery capabilities.

All of the the technical issues initially raised by my critics have been resolved. It’s true though that some do not donate but most do and donations commonly range from $100 to $500. The major challenge I’ve had is winning over the skeptics. That and spreading the word about my service.

Clients often contact me in distress. And I find it personally very satisfying to be able to reunite them with their lost data. Not always is there a happy ending but it’s a beautiful thing when there is.

Some clients have called me amazing, a genius. And it’s nice to hear that but really I’m not any of those things just someone that had a vision of what was possible and the perseverance to see it through. Most of the credit actually belongs to the Linux and Open Source Software community as only a fraction of the software on my recovery CD is self written.

So that’s the story of FDR to date but the saga continues. It will be interesting to see what the future holds. I’ll leave you with my favorite quote authored by Calvin Coolidge.

“Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.”

-Stephen Haran

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