Data Recovery Process

Data Recovery Process:

We recover your data as safely and efficiently as possible. Our data recovery process follows the same steps used by the biggest and most expensive data recovery companies in the world.

But we also take extra steps to maximize your satisfaction, like providing timely e-mail updates throughout the data recovery process, double checking our logical scan results, and “triple-checking” transfer drives.

Here are the full details of our data recovery process:

1) Receive hard drive.

You will drop off or mail-in your bad hard drive and a transfer hard drive (unless purchasing a transfer hard drive from us).

2) Inventory hard drive.
For “dropped off” hard drives, we’ll first note and verify the hard drive’s serial number. We’ll add contact information and hard drive details/symptoms into our ticketing system and data recovery database. Finally, we’ll label all accessories (power adapters, cables, etc.) with name, ticket number, and contact information.

For “mailed” hard drives, we’ll match the name on the box (and on the hard drive) to the previously submitted Mail In Form. We’ll confirm any conditional fees and note and label all parts and accessories. We’ll send an e-mail to go over our rate and policies (we don’t start working on the drive until our policies have been confirmed).

After inventory is complete, an email will be sent to our client letting them know we’ll start the recovery soon.

3) Diagnostic analysis.
In general, diagnostic analysis involves determining the underlying problem with the hard drive. This first requires removing the hard drive from its enclosure or computer (unless it’s a bare drive). We visually inspect the hard drive and PCB (the circuit board on the bottom of all hard drives). If all looks good, we’ll connect and test the hard drive using one or more of our hardware data recovery tools.

Diagnosis will likely also involve testing various components of the hard drive and PCB, testing the hard drive’s heads, and reading/saving/checking the hard drive’s firmware.

4) Revive hard drive.
Depending on the exact problem with the hard drive, various steps may be required to revive the drive so it’s accessible on a sector-level by our hardware cloning tools. This may include locating donor parts, repairing firmware modules, and replacing bad components on the PCB.

We may use donor parts to revive the hard drive and recover the data, but the bad drive will be returned in the same condition as it arrived. We cover all costs of donor parts, if they are necessary.

If the hard drive cannot be successfully revived, we’ll stop our recovery efforts and send our client an email offering to send the drive back, send the drive to a clean room we recommend, or safely destroy the drive so the data can never be recovered by anyone.

5) Pre-configuration.
Various steps are taken to minimize risk to the data and ensure a successful recovery. Often this includes mapping the heads of the hard drive, disabling advanced (and often problematic) features of the hard drive’s firmware, and controlling the environment of the hard drive.

After this stage, another email will be sent our client letting them know their recovery is “In Progress.”

6) Clone hard drive.
The most important step is cloning as much data as possible from the bad hard drive to one of our good hard drives. This process may take several hours, days, or even weeks (worst case scenario). It all depends on the problem with the hard drive, size of the hard drive, number of bad sectors, and amount of data needing to be recovered.

To complete this process as thoroughly and quickly as possible, we use specialized hard drive cloning hardware-software tools. If the drive is in especially bad condition, we will target/clone the most important files first (assuming the partition is still intact).

Once the most important files have been cloned, we’ll go after the less important remaining files. This prioritizing of files helps increase the odds that we’ll be able to recover the most crucial files (in case the hard drive is on the verge of complete failure).

7) Logically inspect hard drive.
At this point, our clone of the hard drive will be inspected using our software data recovery tools. Once connected, the clone will not mount on our PC or Mac system because we have intentionally disabled the part of the drive that instructs the operating system to recognize it. This avoids the problem of the OS attempting to repair a partition corruption in the background (potentially damaging the data further).

The partition and file structure of the hard drive will be inspected to determine the damage (if any). We perform no less than two software scans of the clone to ensure all the data has been found. If damage is present, we may do several more data recovery scans using various software recovery tools to get back as much data as possible.

In rare cases, we may need to manually reconstruct the damaged partition in order to access and recover the files.

After the data has been found, we’ll send an email to give our client the good news. We may also send a file listing at this stage, if less than 100% of the data has been recovered, to confirm our client would like to pay for the files we recovered.

8) Extract data.
At this point, all the data which can be recovered has been located. We’ll start moving the files to the transfer drive provided (unless the client opted to buy from us).

We always reformat the transfer drive in either NTFS (if the bad drive was PC formatted) or HFS (if the bad drive was Mac formatted). If the bad drive was Linux formatted, we’ll ask our client which format they prefer (Mac or PC).

Although it’s not always the best use of resources or time, we only move PC formatted drives on PCs and Mac formatted drives on Macs. This is due to rare cases of PC formatted transfer drives being corrupted on by a Mac or vice versa. Our client would receive the transfer drive but not be able to see the data.

9) Verify priority files integrity and back-up.
The most important files (listed on the mail-in form, or noted when dropped off) are verified to ensure they are working properly. Other files across the hard drive may be tested and structure of the file system is verified.

We already have our “clone” of the bad drive which we can use as a “backup.” But in addition to this backup, we also keep a backup of all the recovered “files” on an encrypted drive. We’ll keep this backup for at least 7 days, but will save it for longer upon request.

To ensure there are no problems with reading the transfer drive once returned to our client, we also perform a “triple check.” We’ll eject the transfer drive from the computer, mount/check on another computer, and re-check on the first computer. Although rare, this step helps further avoid an issue of our client not being able to read the data on the transfer drive.

The external hard drive is also virus scanned and any found viruses are repaired or removed.

10) Recovery completed!
All recovered data is now on the transfer drive and the data recovery process is complete. The final step is to confirm all mailed in or dropped off accessories are present.

If the client dropped off their drive, they are notified via e-mail that the data recovery is finished and the hard drives are available for pickup.

If the drive was mailed to us, we’ll safely box up the drives, calculate actual shipping cost, and contact our client for payment (via Paypal or over the phone).

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