The truth about data recovery

The truth about data recovery


As a commercially available service, Data Recovery still sits in the shadows of the IT industry. Far from the shiny sales focused end of the market, it is a relatively unknown emergency service for the IT world that most people never get to hear about. Many consumers still don’t realise that such a service exists, so improving visibility, building trust and understanding, and demystifying the industry is key to helping people get their lost data back.

Getting the word out there

Data recovery still has a tendency of getting mixed in with the general repair and servicing market and for most people when they suffer a data loss situation they look towards a repairer rather than a dedicated data recovery service. If the repairer is not an experienced data recovery provider this could potentially end up causing greater data loss or even leaving the device unrecoverable. It’s bad for the customer and it knocks people’s confidence in the service.

Raising awareness of data recovery services is paramount and can easily be promoted and highlighted by IT Shops, repair companies and service providers. Even if these customer facing companies do not have the technical capacity or knowhow, many Data Recovery companies offer partnership programs to support them and enable them to confidently offer this valuable and value adding service. But word has to get out that data recovery is available and affordable at a consumer level. Bringing this knowledge to the masses could help many people get their irreplaceable data back.

The data recovery industry

Data recovery companies vary greatly in the level of experience and service they provide and the prices they charge. There is no governing body, standards authority or codes of practice that must be adhered to. Just like any other industry it is a competitive marketplace and there are good and bad companies, so it is well worth doing your research before using or partnering with a data recovery service provider.

Established data recovery companies have invested time and financial resources into equipment, R&D and engineering skills and practices. There are no training programs for data recovery engineers so most of the skills are taught in house by senior engineers who have worked in the field for many years, accruing invaluable knowledge. This knowledge is applied throughout the data recovery process, to evaluate faults and determine the right course of action to achieve the best possible outcome. This is not a skillset that can be taught in a fifteen minute online video.

Research and development is also constantly being undertaken by a number of non-consumer facing specialist companies, who supply software and hardware support to the data recovery industry. Their work is uniquely focused on providing the tools and technical support for the very latest devices and emerging technologies.

The truth about data recovery

What is data recovery? Put simply, it is great engineering skills applied using sound technical knowledge and experience to recover lost data. It is about making a good evaluation of faults and analysing the given device to take the most appropriate course of action.

Each job needs to be evaluated on a case by case basis and it is almost impossible to give an assessment on a device without actually having it in a data recovery lab. A reported fault or error may only be part of the problem and this can’t be assessed correctly without physically examining the device. Quite often further faults can also surface during the recovery process.

Data recovery cannot be rushed. Even premium expedited services can only bump the job to the front of the cue. Data can only be recovered at a rate which the faulty device allows. Some recovery processes have to run much more slowly to limit the chance of the device failing completely during the recovery process. This is especially the case with hard drive data recoveries. Add to this that modern devices have the potential to hold huge amounts of data, the process can often prove time consuming.

Data recovery is not a guaranteed service. It is impossible to know if the process will be successful beforehand and there are never any guarantees. Data recovery companies will do their best to get the data back, it’s good for business and reputation, and every engineer will attest to feeling good after a successful recovery. Full recoveries are common, however depending on the severity of the fault or damage, partial or no recovery can occur. In other situations data can be recovered but file names and folder structures are lost.

Things to watch out for

As we mentioned earlier data recovery companies vary in the level of service they offer and there are definitely some less than agreeable activities going on in the industry. It’s always wise to do your research before sending your device off to be recovered. We are going to outline a few things to be aware of that may be of additional help.

Pushy sales practices

It’s worth speaking to your chosen data recovery specialist before submitting your device for recovery. It helps you get a feel for if they are the right company for the job. Some companies have a more aggressive sales approach and are more interested in getting hold of your device than they are providing you with the information you need. Pushy sales staff and repeated sales calls are not unheard of and not a great indicator of the service.

Hidden costs

Some companies charge an extra fee for evaluation or to provide you with a list of recovered files. There are numerous accounts of the price of recovery escalating and additional cost being added throughout the process, after an initial lower quote has been given. Fixed prices are becoming more common place in the industry and bring transparency back to the consumer.

Guarantee of recovery

No one can guarantee the successful outcome of data recovery, so be very wary of paying costs upfront, especially if you have been promised that data can be recovered.

Fixed turnaround times

Be wary of fixed turnaround times. Whilst a good estimation can be given based on an initial assessment of the device, the type of device, fault and volume of data are all significant factors in timescales, which can vary widely.

You are in control of the service

Ensure that you pick a service provider that it up front and you feel you can trust. You need to be in control of the costs involved and have the option to discontinue with the recovery if it is going to be too expensive. Ask questions prior to sending you device and make sure you are satisfied with the answers prior to committing.

Some common misconceptions about data recovery

There are a few other misconception and assumptions about data recovery services that should also be highlighted. The customer service process and the customer experience is much better when these aspects are visible upfront.

FALSE: Your data will always be recoverable

There is simply no way to know how much data can be recovered until the device has been evaluated and the recovery completed. There is the possibility that damage can be so extreme that recovery is not possible, recovered data might be recovered but corrupted or the device might fail during the recovery process and only some of the data retrieved.

It’s best to manage customer expectations from the outset and avoid any awkward conversations further into the process.

FALSE: All of you data will be recoverable

As mentioned above, some recoveries are partial, include corrupted data or are recovered at a low level where file names and folder structures are lost. This is totally depended on the type of device, the fault and the level of damage that has occurred.

FALSE: You can use your device afterwards

The data recovery process might fix the device as a side effect of the recovery process, but this is only to enable recovery of the lost data. Going forward it would be unadvisable to rely on that device as it is likely to fail again. The only situation that it would be okay is in the case of deleted files.

FALSE: Programs and operating systems are recovered

The data recovery process only recovers data and not any programs or operating systems. This is mainly down to licencing issues.

FALSE: Fixed time scales can be given

As we mentioned earlier, data recovery is on a case by case basis. Whilst a reasonable recovery time estimate might be made during evaluation, there is no guaranteed way to predict how long each individual recovery will take

FALSE: Data Recovery is expensive

Data recovery does not have to be expensive. Shop around for the best price, find a fixed priced service and research any potential providers before committing.

Hopes for the future

The data recovery industry continues to evolve and is becoming more established in the mainstream and commercial market place. High street retailers, small IT shops and service companies are all seeing value and rewards from having it as part of their customer facing portfolio.

Improving the visibility of data recovery as a service would expose consumers to its potential. Many people are unaware that data recovery even exists and might view their data loss situation as a repair issue. Recognising that a specialist service is available and how it works would greatly increase the chances of people getting their lost data back.