Hard drives are still widely used for storage and they’re still a common point of failure on devices. These days, swapping out a hard drive is easy enough (and probably fairly affordable), the big problem comes when the hard drive holds data you need, which hasn’t been backed up elsewhere (which, let’s be honest, shouldn’t happen but does).
When this happens, it can be easy to get into a panic and start trying some of the “hacks” suggested on the internet. Frankly, if these work it’s usually pure luck and they can do a whole lot more harm than good. At worst, they may make your data genuinely unrecoverable, at best (and more likely) they can vastly increase the time and cost of recovering it.
Instead, what you do is hand over the hard drive to a hard drive data recovery service. Ideally, you pick your partner in advance, so you know where to go as soon as you identify that you have a problem. With that in mind, here are some tips on how to choose the right hard drive data recovery service.
Check out their background on data recovery service
At an absolute minimum, you want to know who they are and where they are. As a rule of thumb, the more local they are to you the better. Not only will that speed up the process of getting the hard drive from A to B, but it can also give you the confidence of knowing that the transaction will be governed by the laws of your state. This means that any disputes will end up with the courts in your state or, in other words, that you don’t have to worry about trying to progress a legal dispute with courts on the other side of the country, let alone courts overseas.
Ideally, you’d also like to know how long they’ve been in business and if they’re a relatively young company, check out their background thoroughly and see what other people are saying about them. Also see if you can find out anything about their hiring policies and practices, in particular the way they vet their staff.
Check out their billing policy on data recovery service
As a minimum, you want to know that you are only going to be charged if the company can fix the problem and you also want to know what the maximum fee would be. Basically, you want to be sure that the hard drive data recovery service is only going to attempt the recovery if it has a reasonable chance of success and if so you will then want to be able to make an informed decision on whether the potential costs of the exercise is justified by the potential return.
Ideally, you’d also like a free, no-obligation, diagnosis. For the sake of completeness, “free” means that the company itself will not charge you anything. Obviously, you’ll have to think about the costs of getting the hard drive to and from the premises of the hard drive data recovery service. Also, by the term “diagnosis”, we mean that the hard drive data recovery service will give you a general idea of what they think causes the failure and what that means in practical terms, not that they will tell you how to fix it yourselves (even though you’re unlikely to have the knowledge or equipment to do so).
Check out their actual working facilities
Be very wary of services that claim to have facilities in multiple locations. Some companies genuinely do, but it’s far more likely that they have multiple drop-off points, which then forward the hard drives onto the actual lab. This has all kinds of implications in terms of time, the potential for further damage to your hard drive, the possibility of data theft, and your options if you have issues with the company since the “local” service you thought you were using might turn out to be legally based somewhere completely different.
Basically, you want to make sure that the environment in which your hard drive is kept is both sterile and secure. Any company opening up hard drives should only do so in an area which meets ISO 5 Cleanroom standards. What’s more the area should be physically safe, both in terms of deterring human threats (e.g. the theft of hard drives) and protecting against environmental ones. It should be housed in a building with an appropriate level of security, including network security. Remember, if a legitimate hard drive data recovery service can recover your data then potentially someone else could too, if they got their hands on your hard drive.
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