There’s an old saying, “you get what you pay for.” In most cases this is true. However, just because a company with a fancy website quotes you $3,500 for data recovery, does not mean that they are any better than a company that quotes you $1,500. Also, try to stay away from companies that want to charge $50-$300 for evaluating your drive. There has been a movement in the data recovery industry over the last couple of years to offer a number of free services. Most reputable data recovery companies will evaluate standard IDE drives free of charge; so don’t let the word “free” this or “free” that stop you. The data recovery market is quickly becoming saturated, and a company does not necessarily cheapen itself or lack expertise by offering free evaluations.
You will find as you shop around for data recovery that prices vary greatly. You will get quotes that range from $300 to $5,000 for standard hard drive recoveries. It’s not uncommon to literally get quotes that have at least a $1,500 high/low spread. We shopped one prominent data recovery company where we gave them specific indicators of a physical hard drive failure. We were eventually quoted a price range of $600 to $2,900 for the recovery. Many times this is a bait and switch type tactic. They get you to send in the drive with the low-end $600 price, then they let you know it’s going to cost $2,100 for the recovery. You end up being well under the $2,900 high-end price, but well over what other reputable companies would charge. Since most customers won’t go through the pain of having the drive sent back, only to have to send it out to another company, these bait and switch companies end up making huge profits off of unsuspecting customers.
Try to find a company that will give you an up front cost for either a logical or physical recovery. Most companies will be able to tell you within a couple hundred dollars the cost of a recovery. However, don’t misunderstand a company that gives you a price for two different procedures. For example, some companies will give you a price if the failure is logical and a price if the problem ends up being physical. We called one firm and were told that if the drive had a logical failure the price would be $400 and if it ended up being a physical issue the price would be $1,600. This is not a high/low spread as mentioned in the earlier example, this is simply quoting a price for two different types of recoveries.
On average you can expect to pay anywhere from $400 to $600 for logical recoveries, and $1,200 to $2,000 for physical recoveries on standard IDE hard drives. If you have RAID drives, SCSI, etc. depending on the configuration prices can be as high as $15,000. Remember, backup backup backup backup backup!!
Can My Data Be Recovered?
In most cases the answer to this question is yes. On average, the success rate for data recovery professionals is about 75-85%. However, there are times when the data is just lost, either due to extensive damage to the platter or unavailability of replacement parts.
How Do I Get Started?
If you have a hard drive that has crashed, the most important thing you can do is contact a data recovery professional immediately. Make sure you aren’t being charged an evaluation fee if you have a standard IDE hard drive. Most companies only charge evaluation fees for complex RAID and network server drives.
It is important to do your homework, call and talk with the companies. When you find one that you feel comfortable with, give them a chance. Your hardest job, may be finding data recovery firms that actually have someone available to answer the phones. Ask questions and be sure to have the following information available:
Size of the drive
Operating system (i.e. Windows 98, Windows XP, etc.)
Situation of failure (what happened just before the drive stopped working)
Is the drive recognized by the computer or not
Good luck in getting your data recovered, and make sure you always backup your important information on a daily basis.