FAQ

Here are some answers to our most common questions. Feel free to ask more questions in the comments and we will add the answers here.

How much does data recovery cost

The cost of data recovery depends on the problem with the drive. Most drives are recovered without needing to take them apart, and we call these first stage recoveries. Find more info on our Cost Page.

Do you still charge if you can’t get the data

We don’t charge a recovery fee unless we get the data you need. In some cases there may be a diagnosis fee, for example to carry out cleanroom work, and these are not refunded. The diagnosis fees are optional, so we always give you the choice to cancel instead of moving forward.

What hard drive is best

We never favour a particular hard drive, as it encourages us to be less worried about backups. Instead we buy whatever drive we can get hold of, and make sure we have at least one or two backups of important data. It sounds over-the top, but it’s the only way to be safe. We are increasingly seeing hard drives for recovery that are only a few months old.

What is a cleanroom and why should I care

A cleanroom is a room that has filters to keep air particles below a certain level. This is only important if we take a hard drive apart, but it is crucial to prevent contamination. The heads in a hard drive float very close to the surface of the discs, so even a small speck of dust could cause the heads to crash into the discs and scrape off the magnetic coating that holds your data.

Can’t you just remove the platters

In most cases, NO WAY! Platter extractions are one of the most severe types of recovery that exists. When drives are manufactured the platters are clamped onto the spindle motor. If you undo this alignment without specialist tools, there is virtually no chance of getting that alignment back and therefore no chance of recovery. We have developed our own specialist tools to carry out this delicate task. Also, if the problem was with the data (firmware) stored on the disks then removing them is not going to help in any way.

Can’t you just swap the PCB

Most of the work of data recovery is fault finding so unless we find a fault with the PCB, it would be pointless to replace it. Most modern hard drives have unique PCBs, which are not even compatible with drives of the same model number. We often have to reprogram the replacement PCBs to work with a particular drive.

When people talk about firmware, it is very different to firmware on other devices. Not only is part of the firmware on the PCB, but the vast majority of hard drive firmware is stored on a hidden part of the disk. If the problem is with on-disk firmware then changing the PCB won’t make a blind bit of difference.

Can you repair my hard drive and return it

No. When dealing with a failed or failing hard drive, we only repair it enough to start accessing the data. Our number one aim is to get as much data recovered as possible, so we use specialist tools that stress the drive as little as possible. In most cases, we read every sector and save it onto another hard drive. If you attempted to repair a drive and then attached it straight to a PC to copy the files off, the hard drive would probably fail pretty fast and may get damaged beyond repair. Sometimes with data recovery, you only get one shot, so you have to make the most of it.

Can I just use Diskwarrior, Spinrite, etc…

No. If used on a failing hard drive, this type of software can cause so much damage that recovery can be impossible. It is important to use read-only methods to access the data. Even if the disk is not failing mechanically, when you overwrite the disk structure using Diskwarrior you could lose access to some of the data. Data that would have otherwise been recoverable.

We only suggest using Diskwarrior if a drive has already been recovered safely, then you can see if it will get it running again. That way you have nothing to lose if it all goes wrong.