Customer Service Consistency
We evaluated each company's customer service, taking into account how consistent answers to our questions were from one representative to another, the service's turnaround time and pricing. We put a lot of stock into this rating, because you will entrust this company not only with your equipment but your company's vital data.
We reached out to all of the companies on our list through their available support channels (phone, email, live chat [if that option was available]) anonymously posing the same questions to see if we received consistent, straightforward answers.
Representatives that provided clear, direct answers to our questions (and didn't try to sell us on the service) were rated higher, whereas services that sidestepped questions, gave contradictory answers or were generally unhelpful received lower scores.
Multiple customer service reps gave us contradictory answers. Many avoided answering our questions and, instead, boasted about the service's other features. When confronted with this, they rarely admitted they didn't know the answer and then transferred us to someone who did know. In addition, many of our emails went unanswered.
Confirming Practices & Procedures
Part of transparency for a hard drive recovery service involves proving that it indeed possesses the necessary certifications to demonstrate it's capable of safely and securely performing data recovery for clients.
We awarded additional points to companies 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, one, an ISO-certified cleanroom, and; two, service organization control (SOC) reports issued from an SSAE 16 audit (Statements on Standards for Attestation Agreements) that verify the service – in this case, the hard drive recovery service – has controls and processes in place that protect the safety and confidentiality of customers and their data.
ISO cleanroom certification governs the maximum amount of particulates allowed in a cleanroom. The most common certification is ISO 5, which allows 100,000 particulates per cubic meter, and the better certification is an ISO Class 4 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 provided the certification by a third party along with the date when 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, SOC3 reports) with no common consensus on which is better, so we credited a company for possessing any version. This type of certification is important to clients that have financial and other private, sensitive information on their hard drives.