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Is That Apple Hard Drive Really Yours?

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• In News Media,

“My only option for the wrecked drive, the specialist told me over the phone, was to send it to a company called Data Savers. For between $750 and $2,500, a man in a moon suit would sit in a sealed room and use lasers to lift whatever information he could directly from the disk. Even then, recovery wasn’t guaranteed. I couldn’t afford it, I told her, but I may have a friend who can help me privately, so I would take the drive to him instead. Impossible, the specialist responded. “Apple requires that we return all replaced drives directly to the manufacturer,” she said. Once there, my precious disk would be destroyed. I could keep it only if I paid $300 — a full $100 more than it would cost simply to buy a new drive.”


If you are an Apple user, you may already have had this experience. If you are a lawyer, physician, journalist or therapist, it is imperative to know that your Apple hard drive is a time bomb should it fail. Your data is, in effect, no longer your own. The excerpt above is from a March 2013 article, printed below, which appeared on Counterpunch. It is the work of Alexander Reed Kelly, a graduate of Western Washington University’s Liberal Studies program. Alex is also an assitant editor at Truthdig. His account should be a wake-up call for those who store sensitive and private information on their computers, especially an Apple product. Whether or not you back up your work, the information may find its way into the hands of Apple.

“The Adventure of My Defunct Hard Drive


In the everyday game between man and corporation, it is taken for granted that the house always prevails. Apple’s winning streak hit a snag last week however, when I won an exception to the company’s policy governing the replacement of warrantied hard drives.
My laptop stopped working late at night Friday. When I sat down at my desk, an icon of a folder with a question mark in the middle blinked in and out of the screen’s white glow, while a soft clicking came from beneath the keyboard. I bought the machine six months ago and had pages of notes, unfinished work and recorded interviews on it, none of which I’d backed up. After a night spent weeping softly into my pillow, I took it the next morning to a local specialist. The man behind the counter said the data was almost certainly lost, but that the drive could be swapped for a new one for no charge.


On Tuesday it was confirmed that the data was gone. My only option for the wrecked drive, the specialist told me over the phone, was to send it to a company called Data Savers. For between $750 and $2,500, a man in a moon suit would sit in a sealed room and use lasers to lift whatever information he could directly from the disk. Even then, recovery wasn’t guaranteed. I couldn’t afford it, I told her, but I may have a friend who can help me privately, so I would take the drive to him instead. Impossible, the specialist responded. “Apple requires that we return all replaced drives directly to the manufacturer,” she said. Once there, my precious disk would be destroyed. I could keep it only if I paid $300 — a full $100 more than it would cost simply to buy a new drive.


This was problematic for two reasons. First, if the original item — which I already paid for — was worthless to the company, why couldn’t I keep it? Second, defunct as it was, the drive contained information that was my property, not the manufacturer’s, and some of the data pertained to sources I’d spoken to in the course of reporting and whom I’d guaranteed confidentiality. How could I keep my promise if their information was in the hands of a corporation and still theoretically retrievable? I had to reclaim it…”


The article continues here.

About Dick Conoboy

Citizen Journalist and Editor • Member since Jan 26, 2008

Dick Conoboy is a recovering civilian federal worker and military officer who was offered and accepted an all-expense paid, one year trip to Vietnam in 1968. He is a former Army [...]

Comments by Readers

Clayton Petree

Apr 08, 2013

I would feel a lot more worried if you couldn’t simply buy a new drive and install it, bypassing Apple altogether.  Apple is not out of line asking for it back if they are giving you a working one, IMO.

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Dick Conoboy

Apr 13, 2013

You are missing the point. The drive failed on Apple’s account. And they were poised to steal his personal property - information that could have put his and other people’s jobs and lives at risk.

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