What you need to know about hard drive data recovery services

In the early days of computing, data was stored on hard drives in desktops (and later in laptops). These days, most of it is stored on hard drives in servers. While the way we access data has changed over the years, the possibility of hard drive failure has not. That’s why all data should always be backed up all the time. In the real world, however, that doesn’t always happen. That why there are hard drive data recovery services. Here’s what you need to know about them.

Using a local service is usually the safest choice

As the old saying goes, just because you can, it doesn’t mean that you should. In principle, you can use a hard drive data recovery service from anywhere in the world. In practice, the safest and smartest move is generally to use a local service. First of all, that cuts down the distance your hard disk has to travel. This reduces the likelihood of it sustaining more damage or being stolen.

Secondly, it ensures that the entire transaction is covered by a single legal system. This point is already important and is likely to become even more important in the future. Hard drives themselves are essentially worth nothing. It’s the data that matters and in some cases the data on them may already be covered by local laws and/or industry-compliance programs (e.g. HIPAA, GDPR, PCI/DSS).

Reputable Hard Drive Data Recovery Service

Sticking with a local service makes it relatively easy to enforce the terms of any contract and/or to sue for compensation if the hard drive data recovery service is negligent in protecting your data either on the disk or after it has been recovered.

The key point to note here is that you want a service which is located in your local area both in a practical and in a legal sense. In other words, the work be done near you and the company will be subject to your local laws. Checking this can involve a bit of research, but it’s well worth making the effort.

Speaking of research, be very suspicious of any company which implies that it has multiple data recovery labs across a locality. Proper data recovery labs are hugely expensive to set up and run (not to mention difficult to staff). This means that even the biggest companies are only going to have a few of them. They may, however, have multiple drop-off points which may be able to undertake some basic checks with the help of relevant software and advertise these as “service centers” or something of that sort.

Some types of hard drive can only be handled by very specialist companies

Most hard drive data recovery services will be able to handle Windows-based mechanical hard drives and a lot of them will also handle Linux-based mechanical hard drives. Solid-state drives (SSDs) however are very different from mechanical hard drives and are currently a very niche market, so if you have one it’s highly advisable to check specifically that a company can handle it.

Mac hard drives are also a specialist market and to make matters even more complicated Macs can have either traditional, mechanical hard drives or SSD drives. This means that you will need to be very clear about what you have before you approach a hard drive data recovery service so that you can give them the correct information and check that they can actually handle your particular hard drive.

Buying an anti-static bag can save you a lot of money

Once you’ve established that your hard drive has failed, your job is to protect it from any further damage before you hand it over to the hard drive data recovery service. Electrostatic discharge is horrendously bad for most IT equipment, including hard drives (both mechanical and SSD) so you want to do what you can to protect against it. Anti-static bags are widely available and very affordable, especially when you compare them to the cost of losing your data (or making it more difficult to recover).

In addition to your antistatic bag, it’s a good idea to put bubble wrap above and below your hard drive (use the paper version if you want to avoid plastic). Then use as much packaging as you need to keep the hard drive secure in the packaging box (which needs to be sturdy), again, paper is fine.

Only sign up to a no-fix-no-fee agreement

A reputable hard drive data recovery service will be happy to give you a free, no-obligation quote and only charge you if they succeed in recovering your data (at least to the extent they advise). Never work with any hard drive data recovery service which expects you to pay for their service regardless of results.

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