So the worst has happened; your computer has crashed, the hard drive has failed. All those years of data now inaccessible, lost in the ether. You have tried everything, “Googled” your tail off to find a solution, asked every techno-nerd you know for help and have now finally come to the realization that you may need a data recovery company. How do you pick a decent one? Here are five questions you should ask before deciding.
1. Do they have a cleanroom?
This is probably the most important question to ask. A cleanroom is a dust-free environment necessary for opening hard drives. The smallest particle of dust could cause damage to a hard drive, so this is extremely important. Cleanrooms are classified by the amount of particles per volume of air allowed. I recommend at least a class 100 cleanroom. Make sure they have a cleanroom located onsite where your hard drive will be sent. Don’t be afraid to ask them to furnish proof. Be wary of companies that serve as a “middleman” and ship your hard drive to another company that does possess a cleanroom.
2. Do they charge an upfront fee or a diagnostic charge?
Be careful here, there are many reputable hard drive recovery companies that do not charge any upfront fees. I have seen cases where someone sent their hard drive, paid a diagnostic fee and had their drive returned to them without even being opened let alone any data recovered!
3. Do they charge without recovery?
Again, with so many data recovery companies to choose from, I would recommend sticking with the ones that do not charge unless they recover your data. This is another situation I have seen over and over again: a hard drive is sent to be recovered; the customer is charged and receives their drive back labeled “not recoverable”. I have personally seen these “not recoverable” drives recovered fully.
4. What is their standard turn-around time?
If the turn-around time seems extremely long (i.e. a week or two), there may be the chance that this company is only a “middleman” and will ship your drive somewhere else.
5. Can you talk with a technician?
Don’t get me wrong sales people can be great to talk to, but if I’m paying a company to recover my data, I want to be able to speak to the person actually doing the recovery.
Be very picky with whom you send your data to. Don’t hesitate to look up their BBB rating, ask for references, or do an internet search for their company name. This is your important data, after all.