Before providing a quote, the majority of reputable data recovery companies like Hard Drive Recovery Group will first have to evaluate the storage media to find the secure data recovery cost.

But, what exactly happens during a data recovery media evaluation may not be entirely clear to you, the customer. The short answer is that engineers investigate the cause of your device or hard drive failure, determine whether data is recoverable, and determine what steps must be taken in order to restore the data to a functional state.

Our engineers look for key factors that will indicate the difficulty of the recovery in order to make those determinations. Here’s a high-level overview of the procedure:

Hard Drive Data Recovery Cost Estimate Procedures

Hard Drive Recovery Group data recovery engineers examine your media to determine if there is any evidence of permanent data loss.

If the data is present on the device, we will find a way to recover it, either through software means, or physical means in our lab. However, severe hard disk failures may not be as easy to access data from.

Regular mechanical hard drives tend to feature platters, which are spinning disks that have been coated with a thin layer of magnetic material. The data is read and written from the platters by a set of actuator heads. The actuator heads never come into direct contact with the platters under normal circumstances. If the hard drive fails, however, the heads may physically “crash,” scraping off magnetic material and erasing some or all of the data on the platters.

As part of the evaluation process, we open each drive and visually inspect the platters for evidence of damage. This is always done in a cleanroom that has been certified. Storage media devices (particularly hard drives) can be damaged if they are exposed to dust and other airborne contaminants; cleanrooms are extremely well filtered to eliminate these contaminants from the environment.

By performing a visual inspection, we are typically able to provide an immediate assessment of the device’s recovery potential. When it comes to severe platter damage, our technicians understand how to extract what data is available.

Modern hard drives have a plethora of safeguards in place to prevent catastrophic failures, and data recovery techniques have made significant strides forward in the last decade. In some cases, engineers can read the data from the areas around the damaged platter to provide a partial copy of the data (we don’t charge our clients if we are unable to recover their requested data in usable condition); however, this is not always possible.

Simply put, we rarely declare cases unrecoverable during the course of the evaluation process. However, if there is significant platter damage, we will inform our clients that their case has a low chance of full recovery success.

Solid-state drives and flash drives are less susceptible to physical media damage than other types of storage devices. In these instances, we visually inspect the components for electrical damage before moving on to the next step in the process.

It is necessary for our engineers to thoroughly inspect actuator heads, spindles, printed circuit boards, and other components to ensure that they are in proper working order prior to developing a recovery strategy.

So, as an example, if the platters of a hard drive are unable to spin freely, we will know that the drive may have spindle damage — we will need to inspect the spindle to determine why this occurred, but we can compare the case to similar cases from our historical knowledge base to develop a working hypothesis.

During this phase of the evaluation, our engineers will make use of the information provided by the client. If you are considering data recovery, we strongly advise that you keep a list of failure symptoms to assist engineers in properly analyzing the device. If your case documentation simply states that “it no longer works,” this is not particularly helpful. In contrast, if you tell us that the drive makes an audible hard drive clicking sound and fails to boot, we’ll be able to figure out which components need the most work.

If your media requires physical repair, the specifications of the media are critical; engineers will need to replace damaged components with functional components from a donor if the media does not meet specifications.

Hard Drive Recovery Group maintains a large library of donor drives in order to avoid delays in the processing of individual cases. In addition, we collect thousands of drives from every manufacturer, and we provide our customers with transparent information about the status of their cases as they progress — for example, if we must order parts from one of our suppliers, we explain why this is necessary.

Having said that, we are able to recover the vast majority of cases without having to wait long periods of time. Standard hard drive recovery services typically take 3-7 business days to complete, depending on the complexity of the case. We are able to maintain industry-leading turnaround times while keeping costs down by sourcing donors for hard drives, solid state drives, and other devices on a regular basis.

Logical Failure Procedures

Engineers will examine the drive to determine whether it can be booted and whether the data is accessible. If the drive is still operationally safe, we will use proprietary utilities to determine the extent of logical (non-physical) damage on the drive.

The goal of the media evaluation is to create a roadmap for data recovery, rather than to actually recover the data itself. Following an analysis of your media, we provide a risk-free quote that includes the following items:

  • An estimate of the cost of recovery that is not to be exceeded
  • An estimate of how long it will take to complete the project
  • This section contains a description of the data loss scenario.

Hard Drive Recovery Group does not charge for standard hard drive media evaluations, which are performed at no cost to the customer. Aside from that, we back up our services with a “no data, no charge” guarantee — if your case is unrecoverable, you won’t have to pay anything at all (not even return shipping). Every location has certified clean rooms and real laboratories, allowing us to achieve industry-leading success rates while maintaining competitive pricing.