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Meet the Engineer: Graham Symonds

Graham Symonds: data recovery engineer at Kroll OntrackWhat is your name?

Graham Symonds

What exactly do you do at Kroll Ontrack?

I am part of our laboratory team which focuses on the recovery of the logical structures. This demands a wide range of knowledge for different file systems including Raw solid state structures, NTFS, FAT VMWare.

Multiple techniques are required to complete a variety of jobs. We see issues with file system corruption, overwritten data and Raid damage. The role is very demanding and enjoyable.

How long have you been at Kroll Ontrack?

February 2002 – present, so 11 years.

What is your most unusual/challenging/interesting device to take apart to date?

Overwritten VMware recovery with Raid damage. We had a customer that had a Virtualised system but had suffered a loss of integrity to their Raid system. As a result they had attempted to recover the data without consulting a specialist. As a result they ended up overwriting the critical structures required to mount the system.

They were after an SQL database which was required to receive their backend web sales orders.

We managed to build the Raid removing all the damage caused by the overwrite. Once complete there was another Raid rebuild required before we could go onto recover the virtual file system the customer had lost. We did rebuild these structures and recover the data the customer needed.

What new skills & technology are you currently learning about?

I currently have two key areas of development.

  1. SSD is an expanding market. One of the main difficulties is that there is no standard between manufacturers. Because of this our tool development is ongoing.
  2. VMWare I am currently learning about advanced rebuilding of VMware file systems. This includes topics such as overwrites and reconstruction of damaged virtual machines.

What are you working on at the moment?

8 drive Raid 5 array where two drives have failed. Clean Room managed to recover these which were suffering from Electronics Failure.

We are now in the process of rebuilding the structures and present the findings to our customer.

What type of mobile phone do you have?


How do you relax after work/on weekends?

Golf, Fishing, spending time with my family teaching my son to swim.

If you weren’t a data recovery engineer, what would your ideal career be & why?

Would like to have been in the police force especially dog handing. As with my role in Kroll Ontrack I enjoy variety never knowing what you will be presented with.

What is your top tip for data recovery? 

Avoid destructive attempts to recover data yourself as this can further damage the data making recovery less likely.

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