There are a seemingly endless number of data recovery companies available online who promise to help you recover lost data due to hard drive failure or other difficulties. Some of them are excellent, well-managed service providers who offer great value for your money, while some, unfortunately, are not.
If you’re looking for someone to help you retrieve lost files or other data, the information is likely quite valuable to you and you want to choose a provider who gives you the best chance to get your files back. So how do you choose the best service provider from all the available choices? Here are the top 10 things you should look for when choosing a data recovery company:
1. Check to see if they are recommended by computer manufacturers.
Computer manufacturers sometimes recommend specific data recovery companies that they know well and that they are confident they can handle the task of recovering your information. While some very good companies may not be well known enough to the manufacturers to make the list, you can be sure that any companies on the list have been in business for a while and have a good track record in their field.
2. Make sure they have access to a cleanroom environment.
Access to a Class 100 cleanroom is necessary for most physical data recovery operations. A Class 100 cleanroom means that the atmosphere in the room has 100 or fewer particles of a given size per cubic meter. (For comparison, the average urban environment has approximately 35,000,000 particles per cubic meter)
A cleanroom environment is necessary to work on a damaged hard drive because the internal components of the drive are so small and finely tuned that dust particles can get into the drive and interfere with its operation. This is also the reason you should never try to disassemble your drive on your own, chances are, you will make recovery more difficult, or even impossible.
3. Check out the company’s history with the Better Business Bureau.
The Better Business Bureau keeps track of complaints against a company and can tell you how long they have been in business at their current location. In most cases, a company that has been in business for several years and has few if any complaints against it is a reputable service provider.
4. Make sure the company has a physical address, not just a P.O box.
Unfortunately, there are scams out there on the web, so as a minimum requirement, make sure the business has a physical address and that you can verify the fact that they are an actual company that conducts business on a regular basis.
5. Make sure that the company actually does their own repairs on site.
Some data recovery companies send their customers hard drives out to have someone else do the repairs. In other words, they are middlemen, charging you for the repair and then sub-contracting the actual work. A company that does business this way is likely more expensive than a company who does its own work on site.
6. No hidden fees.
Most data recovery providers offer a free evaluation to find out the extent of the damage and determine if your data is recoverable. After the evaluation, you should receive a quote for the cost of recovery that doesn’t include any hidden or “extra” fees. Make sure you know exactly how much it will cost before you sign any agreements.
7. A proven success rate.
Good data recovery companies keep track of their success rate and can retrieve your files in 80 to 90% of cases. Of course, there’s always a possibility that your data may be one of the 10-20% of cases that are unsuccessful, but in general, a company with a high success rate gives you a better chance to get your files back. If the company doesn’t know or want to discuss its success rate, you’re probably better off to go with someone else. On the other hand, companies that promote a 100% success rate are likely not telling you the whole story.
Many good companies have client representatives who are available 24/7 to answer your questions and concerns. This availability can be a real benefit if you’re in the midst of a data loss emergency.
9. Word of mouth.
As with all businesses, word of mouth feedback from previous customers is often the best measure of a company’s effectiveness. Check with your friends or employer to find out which companies they have used and whether they were satisfied with the results.
10. Don’t accept a quote based on the volume of data to be recovered.
Some companies will charge you based on the volume of data to be recovered, rather than the actual work required. The work involved in a specific data recovery job depends on the type of repair and the extent of damage to the drive. It doesn’t cost the provider more to recover greater volumes of data.
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