Q. Why does data recovery cost so much?
A. Data recovery doesn’t always cost thousands of dollars. In most cases, the media (hard drive) has merely lost its ability to understand and interpret its own file system (FAT, NTFS, etc.). The causes of these sorts of problems can vary widely, but some of the more common sources are viruses, bad sectors, or read/write heads that are starting to fail. There are a variety of tools (both hardware and software based) that can solve these problems for a reasonable charge.
Q. I see some data recovery companies offering services for $79-$99, why are yours so much higher?
A. The companies that market their services for less than $100 are almost always referring to LOGICAL file recovery. A logical recovery refers to instances when the file system of a hard drive is corrupt and requires a special program to correct the file system errors. There are many software applications on the market that will perform logical recoveries and these types of recoveries are relatively straightforward (usually within most computer users comfort level).
A PHYSICAL data recovery is a much different case. In these instances, either the mechanics, electronics, or firmware of the drive has quit working and an off the shelf recovery program will not work. SMART Data Recovery specializes in these type of physical data recovery scenarios.
Q. How would I know if I have a logical data recovery case and not a physical one?
A. In general, if you connect the hard drive directly to the computer with a SATA/PATA cable and the BIOS identifies the drive with the correct manufacturer and capacity then you have a logical recovery scenario. However, there are many exceptions and if you are in doubt it is best to get a free evaluation from a data recovery company.
Q. Which drives are the most difficult to work with?
A. In general, the larger the capacity and the more modern the disk is, the more difficult the recovery will be. This is especially true if your drive needs an internal part replaced. As the manufacturers continue to increase the capacity and speed of these drives, the drives become more complicated.
Q. I dropped my laptop and the hard drive is now making funny noises. Can my data still be recovered?
A. Drives that have sustained physical trauma such as getting dropped off a desk are likely to have physical damage to the platters. While we are sometimes successful in getting some data off of the drive, a 100% recovery is usually not possible.
Q. Can putting a clicking hard drive in my freezer fix my problem.
A. The ‘freezer method’ has been shown to successfully get a hard drive with certain problems to start working again. As with many electronic devices, heat is the enemy. By lowering the temperature of the hard drive, some of the internal components (especially the spindle) can begin to function again. However, there is a definite risk of condensation forming on the hard drives platters once the drive starts to thaw out. SMART Data Recovery DOES NOT use the ‘freezer method’ to repair hard drives.
Q. I thought that hard drives were air tight and should not be opened under any circumstance, is this true?
A. Absolutely not. In fact, the physics behind how the hard drive works relies on what is called an ‘air bearing’ that allows the sliders on the head assembly to float across the platters to read the data. If you look closely at a hard drive you will find the breather hole (often says ‘Do Not Cover’) that allows air to pass in and out of the drive. Special filters inside the drive cleans the air as it passes into the drive.
Q. My hard drive is clicking. What does that mean?
A. A clicking noise essentially means that the hard drive cannot read its own firmware that tells it how to operate. In most hard drives, the firmware is located on special tracks of the platters and is read by the drive as it tries to become ready. The clicking you are hearing is the head stack moving back and forth in an attempt to find, read and execute this code. Possible causes of the ‘click of death’ as it is known are weak heads, platter damage (scratches), or corruption of the firmware files. The good news is that your files are usually retrievable. The bad news is that the equipment needed to fix these issues is expensive ($5000-$10000) and clean work environments (class 100 clean room, laminar flow benches, laboratory glove boxes) are often necessary to replace internal components.
Q. What is the average turnaround time on a standard service hard drive recovery case?
A. The average turnaround on a Level 1 case 2-3 business days. This is the time between when we receive the drive and when the data is shipped out or picked up. For Level 2 and Level 3 cases, the turnaround time usually increases, especially if donor parts need to be ordered.