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The Best Hard Drive Recovery Services of 2019

Bybusiness.com editorial staff,
business.com writer
| Updated
Jan 02, 2019
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Best Hard Drive Recovery Service Comparison for 2019

Data loss will plague any business. It’s common practice to backup information, but that doesn’t always mean you’re safe. As a small business, it’s important to be prepared for anything, and that means having a plan in place if your servers and backups meltdown. Data recovery software, which can be purchased online, can resolve many data loss issues. Data loss can occur in a number of scenarios, and recovery software can protect against accidental deletion, reformatting and deleted partitions.  

Regardless of what happens with your data, it’s important to consider using data recovery software before you go to a service. Software is usually much cheaper. However, if you’re facing a catastrophic situation, a hard drive recovery service can be important. Even if you are backing up your information, unforeseen circumstances can jeopardize the existence (and survival) of your company’s data, but that doesn’t mean your data is gone for good. 

Best Picks

 

What to Expect in 2019


Data loss can occur when you least expect it. 2018 saw some of the worst natural disasters in history, with major hurricanes and wildfires causing billions of dollars in damage to areas across the United States. What accompanies this destruction can be data loss, which is the cornerstone of any technology-based small business. There’s no telling what 2019 will bring in terms of disasters or problems for small business, but being prepared can give solid footing if you need to re-establish your business after a security breach, natural disaster or accidental deletion. 

Gillware Data Recovery, a hard drive recovery service we reviewed in this small business services category, published an article on common seasonal data loss situations. In summer storms, for example, power loss can affect proper hard drive storage. Common scenarios include improper shut downs due to power loss and electrical surges that can damage hard drives. While these problems may not be a new trend in the data recovery world, they’re still very real threats to small businesses and their data, even for businesses outside of typical natural disaster areas. 

Pricing and Negotiation

Hard drive recovery services are equipped to deal with more extensive hard drive problems, including mechanical failures, data corruption and physical damage from disasters. If your hard drive was damaged from a fire or flood, recovery services are the way to go. They physically dismantle the hard drive in a cleanroom environment to examine the actual platters where data is stored and salvage that data with various tools. Typically, you'll ship your hard drive to the service, or drop it off at one of the company's local offices or pickup locations. 

As with data recovery software, there's no guarantee that you'll be able to recover 100 percent of your data after a disaster by turning to a hard drive recovery service. Some drives can be too damaged for any data to be extracted. Therefore, it's crucial to have backups of your important data that you can restore from. Data recovery should never be the first line of defense against data loss. 

Hard drive recovery services rarely offer flat-rate pricing, and we recommend avoiding ones that do. With the many different types and models of data storage devices, different amounts and types of data stored, and the variety of issues that could be affecting them, no two data recovery cases are alike. This is why most services must perform an evaluation on your drive before quoting a price for the job. The evaluation not only determines how much work they'll need to do to recover the data, but also the probability of successfully recovering all data. It's at this point you can decide whether or not to go with the service to handle the case. 

While many services don't post or even estimate what your cost would be without evaluating your device, the most common pricing estimates we found when inquiring about a single hard drive with an unknown issue were between $200 and $700 for the standard services. Recovery costs on larger, more complicated devices such as a RAID server were likely to range in the thousands. 

It's risky to go with a service that offers a flat rate on recovery. Sometimes recovery jobs can be resolved with a simple fix. You're likely to overpay if this is the case. Services that quote you a price often give you a full breakdown of their evaluation, what the problem is, and what it will take to fix and recover. This transparency is critical when you're handing over your valuable data to another company. 

The best services we reviewed offer a "no data, no cost" guarantee, which assures clients that they will not pay if the service is unsuccessful at pulling data from the drive. Some services don't offer this guarantee but do offer a free evaluation of your drive. Other services still charge a flat evaluation fee for looking over the drive to see if data can be salvaged. In our reviews, we point out whether a company carries this guarantee, just has a free evaluation or charges an evaluation fee. 

Nearly every service on our list offers expedited service for when you need your data quickly and emergency service for when it's critical that you get your data back as soon as possible. These emergency services are typically available 24/7 and will immediately work to get your drive in their hands for recovery when time is critical. Depending on how many drives you're submitting and the extent of the damage, you can get your recovered data within just a few days. Just be aware that these services cost much more than the standard service. 

A few more things to keep in mind when preparing to go with a recovery service is you'll often need to provide a working storage device to transfer the recovered data onto. If not that, you'll have to purchase a storage device from the service, which will ship it back to you with your data. Depending on the amount of data recovered, some services can do an FTP transfer of your data over the internet, but this is either for special cases or small amounts of data. 

When discussing your case, another thing to ask the recovery company is if it's authorized by the manufacturer of your device to perform a recovery without violating a warranty. The best services are approved by most major brands to invasively work on their hardware without voiding your warranty. After all, depending on the problem, you may be entitled to a replacement from the manufacturer.

Reviews

Below are all our reviews for hard drive recovery services. Our coverage includes reviews of the best recovery for RAID, SSDs and external hard drives.

Confirming Practices and Procedures

Part of transparency for a hard drive recovery service is proving that it's certified as safe and secure data recovery. We look favorably on services that received these certifications from credible, third-party organizations, such as the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants. The two certifications we looked for are an ISO-certified cleanroom and service organization control (SOC) reports issued from an SSAE 16 audit that verify the service has controls and processes in place to protect customers and their data. 

ISO cleanroom certification governs the maximum number of particulates allowed in a cleanroom. The most common certification is ISO 5 Class 100, which allows 100,000 particulates per cubic meter. The better certification is ISO 4 Class 10, which allows only 10,000 particulates per cubic meter. It's important to keep the number as low as possible, as exposed hard drive platters are sensitive and contamination can result in irreparable damage. Many companies claim they meet these standards, but only a few provide the certification by a third party along with the date it was issued. 

The second certification, SSAE 16, has to do with security and privacy auditing. There are different types of this credential (including SOC 1, SOC 2 and SOC 3 reports) with no consensus on which is best, so we credited a company for possessing any version. This type of certification is important for clients who have financial and other private, sensitive information on their hard drives. It ensures that the company follows the best security practices and continually audits its operations to make sure private data stays that way.

Customer Service

Finding a company with excellent customer representatives is essential. We appreciated that our best picks have fast and easily accessible customer service, most of which are reachable 24/7 in case of emergencies. The better services can connect you with a dedicated representative quickly after you submit a case. These representatives are your main point of contact with the company from now on and will update you on the different stages of the case. These reps will be the first ones to hear the details of your case and recommend your next actions.

Evaluation and Recovery Process

We prefer services that operate under a "no data, no cost" policy. You shouldn't expect to pay for an expensive service that turns out no results. These services will also adjust your final charge if it only recovers a portion of the data. Services normally provide an average turnaround time for their evaluation process; you'll want one as fast as possible so you can quickly decide what you want to do. Most services offer their evaluations for free and include free shipping of your device in the form of a prepaid shipping label you can print and attach to the package. After the evaluation, if you decide not to give the service your case, some charge a return shipping fee for your device. 

Turnaround on a data recovery case can be paramount to your company. If sensitive data that's essential to your business's operations is lost, immediate action needs to be taken. Although it's much more expensive, if the importance of the data outweighs the cost, you need to turn to a service that offers 24/7 emergency data recovery service. This can come in the form of express, overnight shipping of your device or courier pickup. The company makes your case a priority and immediately works on it, even during off hours. Most of these services aim to do the recovery job within 24 hours, but they'll work for as long as it takes to get the data back in a short timeframe. 

If for any reason you can't ship the device to one of the company's locations, such as if it's too big to move or it contains data too sensitive to leave the premises, some services offer onsite recovery that involves one or more technicians coming to your location to work on the device. This is another service that costs extra. 

After the evaluation, then the recovery process begins. While the turnaround of your case may depend on what exactly the issue is, standard recovery for a typical case shouldn't take longer than a week. The exception is when a drive is highly damaged from a fire or other disaster and needs delicate work if there's to be any chance of a successful recovery.

Common Hard Drive Recovery Service Questions & Answers

Have a hard drive recovery service question of your own?
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How can I create a digital library to capture old documents in hard copy?

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List of the The Best Hard Drive Recovery Services of 2019