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#5833 - 11/15/09 11:29 AM What does Apple do with customer's replaced drives
Pendragon Offline

Registered: 08/04/09
Loc: Georgetown, Texas, USA
After a hard crash, I recently had a HD replaced by Apple via Apple Care. When I took the machine to the Apple store, I was 20 days beyond my Apple Care agreement. Still, they offered, without my prompting, to replace the HD at no cost.

At that point I did not rock the boat and ask to have my old data resurrected, but merely extended profuse thanks for their approach to Customer Service.

And now to the issue:
I presumed that after the new drive was replaced, Apple would return the old drive to me. When I picked up my machine and inquired re the old drive I was told the old drives are not returned. The tech advised that all HDs erased and sent for disposal (or sometimes for repair).

While the old HD did not have the password to my Cayman Island Credit Suisse account, my SSAN and other bits of personal data were (are?) there. Were I to dispose of the drive, I would know the old data could not be recovered. But now I must trust Apple.

So, might anyone know what procedures Apple takes to ensure bad things don’t happen to customer’s replaced drives?
27" i7 iMac (10.13.6), iPhone Xs Max (12.1)

Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities. ~Voltaire

#5843 - 11/15/09 03:58 PM Re: What does Apple do with customer's replaced dr [Re: Pendragon]
Virtual1 Offline

Registered: 08/04/09
Loc: Iowa
The tech advised that all HDs erased and sent for disposal (or sometimes for repair).

He was speaking of Apple btw, not of his store or him personally. On most warranty repairs, Apple requires the old part ("module") be returned to Apple. Only a small number of the parts returned are actually refurbished. (logic boards for example) and most are simply thrown away. Purely cosmetic or mechanical parts or parts that are more hassle than they are worth are NRET.

The reason they want them back is to prevent insurance (warranty) fraud. Some parts start out NRET (non return) but change to return required if they are abused. This happened more than once with mice and keyboards, AASPs were filing warranty claims to obtain new in box mice and keyboards to sell. Now that they have to return the old ones, they can't do that trick anymore. Apple is as of very recently requiring logging of serial numbers for bad and replacement parts also, possibly to further tighten down on this issue. (tho claimed for quality tracking purposes, which is probably also the case, but who's to tell which of the two is the primary reason?)

As to your hard drive, it will be shipped back to Apple without being erased. What Apple does with it, I have no idea and I doubt that tech can tell you with any authority. Your best bet is to call Apple and ask them.

The drive will NOT be going back to Seagate/WD/Hitachi. Apple is an OEM and gets the drives on steep discount because they don't come with a manufacturer's warranty so they can't send them back to the manufacturer for replacement. Most electronics nowadays are such a conglomeration of different impossible to separate materials that recycling them is impractical. A lot of such things get packed on a boat and dumped off on someone overseas that "disposes of" them, by means that no one wants to hear about. I don't know how much of that Apple does. A FEW things are big on recycling, batteries being the big one I can think of. Heavy metals in batteries are very much in demand in the recycling sector and they've gotten good at reclaiming them cost-effectively.

It would not entirely surprise me if the only things that Apple actually doesn't throw away or sell to someone else or pay to take away are logic boards, LCD panels, and batteries.

Unless someone vouches otherwise, I would not expect the hard drive to be erased or rendered completely unrecoverable before it leaves their hands.
I work for the Department of Redundancy Department

#5861 - 11/16/09 01:47 AM Re: What does Apple do with customer's replaced dr [Re: Pendragon]
ryck Offline

Registered: 08/04/09
Loc: Okanagan Valley
I guess this all underlines the need to have as trustworthy a place as possible for any repairs - although I'm not sure how you figure that one out - or have a failsafe way of storing critical data.

For example, suppose your power supply failed but you didn't know it was the power supply. You just have a machine that's not working. You must take it in for repair but you haven't had any opportunity to remove critical data.

I assume that, in spite of any passwords, a reasonably good technician could view whatever they want.

I wonder if there is such a thing as failsafe data storage.


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#5865 - 11/16/09 07:36 AM Re: What does Apple do with customer's replaced dr [Re: ryck]
joemikeb Online

Registered: 08/04/09
Loc: Fort Worth, Texas
Originally Posted By: ryck
I wonder if there is such a thing as failsafe data storage.

Absolute failsafe? Technically that is impossible but that also depends on what you mean by failsafe. If it means you have data that you wish to protect from harvesting by technicians at the repair shop I can make some suggestions...
  1. Turn on FileVault and keep all your personal information in your home folder. Even a skilled technician is unlikely to be able to access your data unless you give him/her your password. Of course if you forget the password or the FileVault gets damaged you are out of luck. With FileVault it would probably take someone with the resources of a tier one forensic computer lab such as the FBI, CIA, or NSA to get at your data.
  2. Keep your user account and all your data on an external RAID 1 or RAID 5 array with hot swappable drives. Then when you take your computer in for work leave the RAID at home and your computer does not have any of your data on it. If the failure is the RAID itself RAID 5 can rebuild the data on one of the damaged drives or you can swap the drives into another enclosure if that fails.
  3. Before taking your computer in for repair, back up the entire system to an external drive then erase the internal hard drive and install a pristine copy of your OS -- this might even fix the problem you are taking the computer in for. Of course this won't work if the computer has died before taking it in.
  4. If you have any reason to question the integrity of the shop, find another repair shop you trust or if you are under Applecare mail the computer to Apple for repair. They are bonded.

Edited by joemikeb (11/16/09 07:38 AM)
Edit Reason: clarification
joemikeb • moderator

#5872 - 11/16/09 04:01 PM Re: What does Apple do with customer's replaced dr [Re: ryck]
Virtual1 Offline

Registered: 08/04/09
Loc: Iowa
I wonder if there is such a thing as failsafe data storage.

There are basically three FAIL:

1) hardware FAIL
2) user FAIL
3) environment FAIL

if your solution covers all three, you're good.

hardware FAIL

Things like hard drive head crash, raid controller flipout, logic board flipout. Backups (and in most cases, RAIDs) are good against this.

user FAIL

Things like deleting something you shouldn't have, overwriting a file, things the user does that they shouldn't. Incremental backups are good against this.

environment FAIL

Things like hurricanes, floods, tornadoes, theft, terrorists in airplanes. Offsite backups are good against this.

The other aspect is downtime. You often have a choice of data protection that is a balance between cost, speed of recovery, and safety. (you can't have all three, pick TWO) For example, offsite backups are very good for safety but are very poor for speed of recovery. (stole that from "good, fast, cheap, pick TWO")
I work for the Department of Redundancy Department


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