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1. My computer has crashed and I have lost important information. Can you find it for me?

If the information still exists on the hard drive, we can find it for you. If the crash was caused by a virus, a software malfunction, or hardware failure, much if not all of your data may still be on the hard drive. As long as the hard drive itself is still in good physical working condition, we can recover all existing data from the drive. DO NOT TRY TO FIND THE DATA YOURSELF, YOU MAY OVERWRITE LOST DATA AND IT WILL BE GONE FOREVER!

Computers store information by linking files to allocation numbers and to a directory name. This indexing system — of numbers and names — is usually what gets damaged in a computer crash. The file itself may still exist. We can find the data and restore it if it has not been overwritten. When the link is broken between the file and the indexing system, the space where the file is stored is "unallocated." The computer treats the space as if it is blank and ready for new information. Operating your computer after a crash may cause the computer to write new information to the disk, overwriting and destroying important files or data.

Windows operating systems work by using "swap files" that exchange large blocks of information back and forth between random access memory and temporary storage on the hard disk drive. If you turn your computer on after a crash and run your favorite programs, the swapping activity may easily overwrite the lost files on your hard drive. Call us first. Cyberlab is able to bypass Windows and access the hard disk safely so that no new information is written to the drive. Remember, you may lose the remaining data permanently by the simple act of turning on your computer. When in doubt, don’t!

2. I used the school’s computer lab to work on my term paper. My only copy was on a floppy disk that I did not back up. A virus (or software failure) has trashed the disk and my term paper is lost. Can you help?

Yes. You will need to overnight the floppy disk to Cyberlab and arrange to make a service fee deposit by credit card. We will need to know the program you were running to create the document, and talk with you by phone to get the details of what happened. If you took no other steps of the kind that might overwrite the data on the disk, there is a good likelihood that some or all of the document may be recovered. If the problem was caused by physical defects in the floppy disk itself, the data may be unrecoverable. Call the Cyberlab number and make arrangements for service before overnighting the disk.

3. I lost my password to my computer (or to my favorite program, my e-mails, my document, etc.). Can you recover lost passwords?

Yes. If done by e-mail, ordinary mail, or express courier, passwords are unlocked for $75 for the first password and $25 for each additional password. No fee is charged if we cannot unlock the password.

4. I use an encryption program on my computer and I have lost or forgotten my digital access code (my private key). Can you find my access code or bypass the encryption?

Most modern encryption programs are dual-key, 128 bit systems specifically designed to be impossible to break by ordinary means. It will be very difficult (even with older encryption techniques) and sometimes impossible (especially with newer encryption) to solve your problem. Call to discuss the problem. A solution might present itself during such a discussion. If so, then we can help.

5. I think my spouse is having an affair (or is involved in child pornography, drug dealing, racketeering, embezzlement, or other misconduct) and is using our home computer in the process. Can you tell me what, if anything, is on our computer about these things?

Yes. But we have to make sure that we comply with all federal and state laws about computers and privacy. Cyberlab will only examine a computer if we have valid authorization from the user to do so. Check with an attorney in your state to make sure that one spouse can give consent for an examiner to look at a computer used by the other spouse. Usually, if both spouses have access to the computer and can use the computer, either spouse can give permission for the examination. It is a crime to examine a computer without authority. Cyberlab will insist on having valid permission and authorization to examine any computer for its contents.

6. My business (or corporation) is having a problem with embezzlement (or theft of intellectual property or trade secrets, internal sabotage, sexual harassment, or other employee misconduct). It may be one of our own employees using our own computer system. Can you help?

Yes. If there is a particular computer or terminal which may be the source of the problem, we can examine the computer for its contents and report the results to you. First, your company should have a written privacy policy informing the employees that the company reserves the right to examine the contents of an employee’s computer used in connection with the business. Second, you need the employee’s signature on that written policy. Privacy rights of employees is a gray area of the law, and the law generally favors the employer. But the employee does have rights protected by federal and state law. Before Cyberlab will examine an employee hard drive, there must be consultation with corporate counsel to make sure that an examination can be done under the circumstances, and that proper steps are taken.


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Last Updated: Wed, Sep 5, 2001