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What is a data recovery center or lab?

A data recovery center is a dedicated facility that is used by data recovery professionals to practice their craft and help individual and business clients to get their lost data restored if and when their digital media gets damaged or corrupted. A recovery center is also often referred to as a data recovery lab. The designation of the establishment as a laboratory is justified by the highly-trained individuals who work there, the specialized skills they bring to the table, and the advanced technologies that are employed to perform data recovery.

Data recovery center

A data recovery center is comprised of business and technical departments. Administrative tasks such as accepting devices (drop-off and collection locations, shipping, deliveries, case management and handling), conducting initial consultations with customers, and billing for successful recoveries are carried out by the business unit of the recovery center. The technical side of the operation is responsible for determining what may be wrong with the device and recovering its data if possible.

One of the most essential components of a reputable data recovery lab is the inclusion of a cleanroom in which to perform delicate recovery procedures. A cleanroom needs to undergo an annual certification to verify that it is up to industry standards. In the data recovery business, a certification at ISO-14644-1 Class 5 or Class 10 indicates that you are dealing with a respectable company.

The characteristics of a cleanroom include:

The strict control of particles in the air that can contaminate an open drive. Extensive filtering is used for this purpose.

Controls that limit access to the cleanroom to authorized personnel who are trained to avoid accidentally contaminating the facility.

Infrastructure and furniture are designed to be lint-free to eliminate sources of contamination.

Rooms are often positively pressurized so that in the event of a puncture, air will flow out rather than in which can expose the room to particulate contamination.

Operators will usually be required to wear appropriate non-linting bodysuits, gloves, and masks to further eliminate the risk of inadvertently contaminating open drives.

How data recovery centers work and what processes they use?

The details may vary from center to center, but all of them share many common characteristics. Let’s look at how a typical data recovery lab handles a damaged storage device.

Step 1 – Initial consultation – During the first phase of data recovery, the scope of the problem needs to be clarified. The user will need to define the problem they are facing and specify what data should be recovered from the device. In some cases, only certain data may be important enough to warrant recovery. This phase is mostly handled online or as part of a phone call these days when the work order is generated and signed by the customer. In most cases, data recovery centers cannot start any procedures without verified customer consent.

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Step 2 – Technical evaluation – Every model of drive or storage device has a unique fingerprint that needs to be understood and kept in mind during recovery. If the problem is a fried circuit board, simply taking a board from a similar drive may not be sufficient to recover the data. The evaluation will check the power supply and sometimes the fix will be to simply replace a blown fuse. Once power is verified, the technician will listen for the tell-tale clicking sounds that indicate problems with the read/write heads. At this point, the recovery center should be able to provide a quote for the work needed to restore the data.

Step 3 – Verification – After a recovery strategy is determined, the next step will probably be to open the device in the center’s cleanroom. Various components of the device like parameter or firmware chips may be replaced and the technician will need to gain access to the servo track.

Final step – Drive cloning – If the damaged drive can be put into a semi-operational state, the next step will be to attempt to clone the drive and copy the data to a host drive. This is the critical step that will determine if your information can be saved from the device. If the cloning is successful, the data will be copied to the media that will be delivered to the customer.

When the data is returned to the customer on a new device, it’s time to settle the bill with the recovery company. You should not be charged for an unsuccessful recovery. If you are, you have selected the wrong company.

How much does a data recovery service cost?

When you purchase a software product, you are assured of the cost before you make your final choice. The price of a particular application may influence which one you select from among comparable solutions. After you pay for the product you get to see how it works. In some cases there may be a money-back guarantee if the product failed to meet your specifications.

This is not the way that a reputable data recovery service works. If you are presented with a quote that concentrates on a price per gigabyte of recovered data, you should look elsewhere. A good recovery company takes each instance as a special case that needs to be evaluated before determining the cost of fixing the problem.

After the evaluation is performed, the company should be prepared to give you a quote for a successful recovery. The keyword here is successful. A dependable data recovery service will return your original drive to you with no charge if they cannot successfully recover your data.

How is customer data treated by recovery service providers?

This is one of the most significant questions you should ask yourself when searching for a data recovery service. Knowing that your information is safe and treated in the right way is every bit as important as the track record of the service you choose to perform the recovery.

A quality data recovery service will be able to ensure 100% confidentiality regarding the information that they will recover. You should be able to obtain a written document that verifies this fact. Asking how a particular service will handle your data is an important question that should be answered during the process of selecting a vendor.

What’s the difference between a data recovery service and data recovery software?

There are a couple of important differences between a data recovery service and data recovery software. Among them are:

Data recovery software, like Disk Drill, allows the end-user to perform recovery on their own devices. A data recovery service requires that the device be delivered to the facility where technicians will handle the task of rescuing its information.

Data recovery services are usually employed to recover live data from damaged or corrupted devices. The information is there but inaccessible due to physical or logical problems with the device. Data recovery software is used to restore data that has been accidentally lost or deleted from a functioning storage device. In cases where data that has been deleted needs to be recovered from a damaged drive, a combination of the two processes may be required.

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What to look for in a data recovery center

Quality data recovery centers all share several common characteristics. When searching for the right one to handle your valuable data, you should ensure that the service you engage has you covered from a technical and business perspective. Here’s what you should expect in a data recovery service.

The existence of a certified cleanroom in which to conduct examinations and perform repairs and recovery procedures.

An estimate of charges after an initial evaluation is performed. Stay away from services that advertise a per MB or GB rate as that is not how reliable companies operate.

Successful companies that have a proven track record. They are preferable to less experienced players that may not have the technical expertise or access to specific spare parts needed to recover your data.

Certification from hardware manufacturers indicating that the recovery company had the requisite skill set to work on your devices.

High-level security to protect your data before, during and after recovery. This includes completely wiping the data from storage devices that were used in the recovery as well as from any media that will be destroyed after the process is complete.

Who are the top data recovery players in the United States market?

Here are some of the top data recovery companies operating in the U.S.

Ace Data Recovery – Three full-service labs located in Dallas, Chicago, and Houston are complemented by service centers located in most major U.S. cities.

SalvageData – This recovery service makes its home in Minneapolis, Minnesota and has locations throughout the U.S.

Secure Data Recovery – With locations throughout the U.S, Canada, and Mexico, you can deliver your device in person to this provider.

Gillware Data Recovery Service – This recovery company is located in Madison, Wisconsin. It partners with recovery centers throughout the country.

Any of these companies should be able to address your data recovery needs. For you and your data’s sake, we hope they are successful!

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