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Saving Showbiz Computers

Data recovery is a booming business in increasingly high-tech Hollywood

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Former waterbed salesman Scott Gaidano makes a living off other people’s failures. And they love him for it. Gaidano, 51, is the president of DriveSavers Data Recovery, a Novato, Calif., outfit that’s getting a reputation in Hollywood for remedying computer failures.

In a situation typical of the cases that Gaidano, his partner, Jay Hagan, and their 15 employees face, a power outage at Fox Studios crashed the computer containing the only copy of The Simpsons‘ ”Who Shot Mr. Burns?” script, cowritten by the series’ executive producer, Bill Oakley. DriveSavers bailed Oakley out; now he’s more careful, right? ”No, that’s the pathetic thing,” he concedes. ”I still don’t back up [files] all that much.”

Those who have learned their lesson include Barbara Mandrell’s musical director, Chris Walters, who enlisted DriveSavers to rescue the score for the singer’s concert with the Atlanta Symphony off his crashed hard drive. ”It seriously saved my life,” says Walters. ”I don’t know how to put a price on what they do.”

Gaidano does — anywhere from $375 to $1,700, depending on the damage and the size of the hard drive. Still, the company can’t work miracles. ”If the platter [the spinning disc in a hard drive] is warped in a fire or so corroded that we can’t read the underlying magnetism,” says Gaidano, ”there’s nothing we can do.”

But for a banged-up computer like that of E Street Band saxophone player Clarence Clemons, who checked his laptop as flight luggage, only to find it ”dead” in baggage claim, DriveSavers delivered. ”I had a new album I had just finished writing, and all the lyrics were on [my laptop],” Clemons says. ”It was like I lost a friend.”

Paul Anka’s tour manager, Chuck Lutz, soothed his feelings of loss by bringing his Mac to the DriveSavers offices after a 50-page contract rider seemingly evaporated in a crash. ”I said: ‘Wow, all these people had screwed up too. I’m in good company.”’ And that’s an important thing to remember next time you experience failure.

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