Get Data Back Safely

Here we talk about some considerations when you need to get data back safely.  This only applies to important data. If your data is not important and you are willing to risk losing it forever, professional data recovery may not be right for you.

The quick answer is that the only way to get data back safely, with the highest probability of success, is to bring your failed device to an honest and professional data recovery company and to avoid DIY and other non-professional recovery work. The reason for this is spelled out below.

The most important factor in safely getting your data back is a correct diagnosis, before any recovery attempt is made. Attempting to recover data, without knowing what is wrong, is like administering penicillin to every patient that arrives in an emergency room, without any triage, without knowing anything about the patient’s allergies, and without knowing what the ailment is. If you give penicillin to the wrong patient, you might make things worse. Data recovery works the same way. If you run software on a hard drive, without knowing what is wrong, you can make the situation worse, possibly even unrecoverable. 

First lets define a couple terms, as they apply to non-professional attempts to get data back:

  1. Recovery attempt:  A recovery attempt is anything done with a drive, while the drive is under power, to see what happens, or to attempt to get data back via data recovery software.
  2. Repair attempt: Any attempt to run “repair” software like spinrite, update firmware, freeze a drive, heat a drive, open a drive, bang a drive on the desk, replace circuit boards, or to allow automatic processes like a disk check on reboot to run.

Now let’s look at an unsafe way of getting your data back. Because professional data recovery is more costly than unprofessional recovery and repair attempts, many clients try to “do everything they know of” before bringing the drive to us. This includes attempts like freezing a drive, repeatedly restarting a computer that won’t boot, allowing the computer to format a drive, and letting recovery software run (sometimes for days). Once the client has tried everything, they may take the drive to a computer repair company. This company may run more software, power the drive on more, and we have even received drives where the company had opened a drive outside of a cleanroom. After this company fails to recover any data, the client may bring the drive to a professional data recovery shop, and find that the drive has been completely destroyed by all the repair and recovery attempts, or it may just be more expensive than it would have been. At Data Recovery San Antonio, a typical situation would be that a drive that may have been recoverable at $395, will end up costing $950 because of the many previous attempts that have been made.

Why do clients, IT companies, electronics retailers, and computer repair companies follow this process? The answer is that, in some cases, a client or company will get their data back using one of these low level solutions. Let’s say an electronics retailer gets 100 drives in for recovery, and gets data back on 10 of them. They may charge for looking at the other 90 drives, and make a nice profit on the 10 successful cases. What they don’t know, or don’t care about is that the other 90 cases may have been permanently damaged by their recovery attempts. Any drive that can be recovered by a non-professional is very likely to receive the lowest price at any honest and professional data recovery company.  You can see our data recovery pricing page for more information.

So what should you do to get your data back? That depends on how important your data is. First, you will need to assess the value of your data. Ask yourself how much you would pay to have the data back, and go from there. If your data is not worth at least the minimum price at a professional data recovery company, then you may want to consider other options. Unfortunately, there is no way to correctly diagnose a drive outside of professional data recovery techniques and equipment, so you will have to decide how much risk of permanent data loss you want to take on, and how much you want to pay for your data.