Technology exists that can recover data from any device, no matter how damaged.
Chris Bross, DriveSavers Chief Technology Officer (CTO): Anything that stores digital data we can recover.
CNN Reporter: The recovery of cellphone video from a crash site begins in a place like this
Jim Alcott, DriveSavers Data Recovery/Forensic Engineer: I’m going to pop off this ribbon cable, peel it back.
CNN Reporter: We’re at a company called DriveSavers just north of San Francisco—one of the leading data recovery centers in the world whose clients include Apple and the federal government. Here, lab workers say they can extract data from practically any device, no matter how badly damaged.
Will DeLisi, DriveSavers NAND Flash Recovery Specialist: On this one, we got text messages, contacts…
CNN Reporter: Like this phone that got run over twice by a car. Or this camera sitting on the bottom of an ocean for at least a year.
Chris Bross, DriveSavers CTO: Well, what most customers don’t understand is that everything that’s important to them as far, as the data, lives on primarily one chip or a couple of chips inside of the device—and that’s NAND flash. That’s the type of technology that stores data in these mobile devices.
CNN Reporter: And NAND flash, he says, is extremely durable.
CNN Reporter: In most cases, does that ship survive a major crash?
Chris Bross, DriveSavers CTO: It does, in fact. Even if a device is burnt or smashed or crushed or wet, if we can extract that one chip or set of chips, we’re going to be able to get the user data out of it.
CNN Reporter: Earlier in the day, I took some video of the Golden Gate Bridge and, while my phone wasn’t destroyed, the principles of extracting data remain the same—getting to the chip very deep in the phone and putting it in a special machine to extract those images. It can be a little more complex but this is what investigators in France are likely doing with any chips they recover from the phones.
Chris Bross, DriveSavers CTO: Every one of those devices has got some user’s data on it and those phones and tablets, as we’ve already heard in the media, were probably recording the unfortunate last minutes of those people’s lives and I would guess that most of that data is recoverable.