Data Recovery FAQ’s.

General Data Recovery Service Frequently Asked Questions.

Datlabs data recovery operational support team prides itself in providing a professional, efficient and friendly service experience to our many business and home user customers. Our Data Recovery Technicians and Customer Services staff  answer many thousands of telephone enquiries each year and although the need for a data recovery service is new to most of them the data loss incidents generally  involve common device types and recurring themed questions. To assist  with an understanding of what we do and how we do it we have created a reference to a number of the more common questions we get asked. If you need further assistance then do not hesitate to request a call back using the form on this page or contact our central service desk directly.

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Data Recovery Answers.

1.0. How much do you charge for Data Recovery ?

Our Data Recovery service charges generally relate to the:-

•hard drive or storage device fault type.
•number of system hard drives or devices.
•urgency  and time involved in attempting to retrieve your data.

We offer an evaluation and diagnosis service which is free for our Standard Service offerings, for priority and emergency situations you can expect a fee that represents dedicated technician time. A comprehensive report concerning your storage device fault , condition and time to recover your data will generally follow.

Typically the fees presented will be of the order:

Low End HDD Fees :

  • Evaluation
  • Logical Failure
  • Mechanical Failure
  • Spare Parts
  • £0
  • £195 ex VAT
  • £395 ex VAT
  • £ At Cost
  • No Obligation
  • Payable on success
  • Payable on success
  • Payable when needed

High End HDD Fees :

  • Evaluation
  • Failure All Types
  • Spare Parts
  • £495 ex VAT
  • £1200 ex Vat
  • £125-£200
  • Immediate Diag
  • Payable on success
  • Conditional Payment

* charges may vary

(Datlabs adheres to a fair pricing policy, some devices benefit from specific work and application technology and others need specialist attention. Our quotations may vary accordingly. Datlabs customer services department may therefore present additional specific costs or a lesser cost if a job is easy to resolve. It is important to retain a formal record of our cost estimate when this is sent via email in order to avoid disappointment.)

Datlabs technicians will firstly diagnose your hard drive fault condition using specialist tools and test gear and typically advise you of one of three possible unit charges, “Logical”, “Electrical/Firmware” or “Mechanical”, Failures :-

Logical Failure’s are situations where the hard drive is functional but the stored data is inaccessible or has been deleted.

Electrical/Firmware faults include situations where the hard drive mechanics are functioning correctly but the data is inaccessible.

Mechanical Failure’s are situations where mechanical moving parts are damaged and require component replacement. It is absolutely imperative that such work is carried out in a clean air and ESD compliant environment.

2.0. What does Evaluation involve?

All media received goes through an extensive analysis to determine the condition of the drive and its recording media..

Step 1

We will determine whether the problems are logical (software structures), Electrical/Firmware or Mechanical. or all three.

Step 2

If we diagnose an Electrical or Mechanical fault. Upfront charges will apply for non re-usable non stock spare component parts.

Step 3

Once we have implemented a temporary fix and have viable read functionality restored. we make a working image of your hard disk. You may be advised during this stage if we have encountered corrupt data that impacts on recovery times.

Step 4

The next step is to evaluate the condition of the data structures & by using your file type names as comparison what is ultimately salvageable.

3.0. How long will Evaluation take ?

We strive to have the evaluations completed with-in 24-48 hrs of our receipt of your drive. The time required for the evaluation is dependent upon the problems encountered. Though we maintain an extensive inventory of drives & parts, obtaining parts for uncommon drives may add to the length of time required for the evaluation. If other technicians have attempted to recover the data using disk utilities and have damaged logical structures, the process may be lengthened. If the evaluation is to take longer than the standard 48 hours, a representative will call to explain the nature and extent of the problem and will keep you apprised of the progress of the evaluation.

4.0. Is data recoverable from a clicking hard drive ?

A. In the majority of instances, YES. Like other mechanical components, hard drives are subject to mechanical failure over time. Common signs of mechanical failure are strange noises such as:

• Clicking • Ticking • Grinding • Humming • Buzzing

If your hard drive is making any strange noises, do not continue to power-on the drive or attempt an software recovery tools as this can result in further damage and quickly lead to permanent data loss!

If a hard drive has experienced mechanical failure you WILL need the expertise and facilities of a professional data recovery service provider and Laboratory to retrieve your data. Datlabs has one of the highest success rates in the industry which is largely due to our extensive background in hard drive repair. We also carry a large spare parts inventory of replacement manufacturer components.

Unfortunately not all hard drives that have suffered these types of mechanical failure are recoverable and should go through an evaluation process to determine the extent of the recovery.

5.0. What is Data Recovery?

Our Data recovery processes are applied to faulty or inaccessible data storage media. We attempt to recover lost data from a variety of data storage devices including Hard Disk Drives, External Hard Drives, USB memory sticks, Network Attached Storage units, RAIDS and many others. Our processes are performed by experienced and qualified technicians using state of the art proprietary technology. Our success rates are extremely good however we are unable to guarantee any result until files have been viewed and secured on alternative storage media or resources. Our data recovery services are generally the last resort when all other methods, including the application of commercially available software, fail.

6.0. What Causes Hard Drive Data Loss?

Data can be lost due to a number of circumstances. The largest contributing factor to data loss is hardware or system malfunction, accounting for almost 75% of all incidences. Other causes include software corruption, computer viruses and natural disasters such as fire and water damage.

7.0. Can Data Loss be Prevented?

Security REALLY matters, All businesses these days entrust critical data to computer hard drives. When this data becomes vulnerable so too do the businesses themselves. The fact is that your data is only as secure as you make it. You need to back-up or mirror your data and you need to do this regularly. You also need to implement a regime that prevents theft and misuse.

Hard disk drives with extended use or under poor care will fail – it is just a question of WHEN ?

Broken or discarded hard disks contents are vulnerable to theft by determined individuals who have access to appropriate tools and knowledge. The recovery of the content of failed drives – and the subsequent exposure of sensitive data – is of particular concern to law enforcement and government agencies.

To regularly back-up sensitive, critical or private data needs to be a strict policy decision that ensures you experience little or no downtime/ loss in the event of hard disk drive failure.

It’s necessary, however, to think beyond mere backup. Encryption offers a heightened level of security, ensuring that significant data is locked away to everyone except those who have the right to access it. Encryption tools are commonly available and reliable, depending on the complexity of your needs. Encryption is a necessary part of hard drive security, because even data on a crashed hard drive can be recovered by a determined professional.

Life is full of surprises. Hard drives crash, sometimes with serious consequences. However, if the data on a failed hard drive has been encrypted, the likelihood of recovering meaningful data by any means can be rendered significantly improbable. With a suitable level of care, and some thought to appropriate back-up and encryption, even surprises can be taken in stride.

8.0. How is Data Recovered?

There are many methods and procedures by which data is retrieved. Each project is analyzed on an individual basis and procedures used will depend on the device or hard disk type. Every stage of our recovery process is designed to produce the best results in terms of data quality and integrity.

9.0. Can Data Always Be Recovered?

No. There are occasions when damage to the data is permanent. However, it is a rare case when absolutely no data is retrievable. In most cases Datlabs can recover some of the data even in extreme conditions. On average, the company boasts a staggering 80% data recovery success rate.

10.0 When is Data Recovery Not Possible?

There are instances where the damage to the recording surface of the storage media is so severe that data recovery is not possible. This usually occurs when the read/write heads actually “crash” and gouge the magnetic storage media to the point where the data is destroyed. However, in a number of cases data recovery has been possible at the time the damage first occurred, but became non-recoverable through the use of commercial recovery software. This software is designed to recover data from working drives. If your drive has experienced a mechanical or electrical failure, the use of recovery software can cause permanent loss of your data.

11.0. What Format Will Recovered Data be in?

Datlab’s will, where possible return your data in the same folder structure as prior to the failure. Your data will be recovered to return media “in most cases a brand new external hard disk” and returned to you. If specific files are required prior to the main bulk of the data, these may be made available to you via an online storage method.

12.0. Can I use utilities to recover my data?

Whilst most disk utilities provide excellent preventative maintenance by fixing minor problems, they can render data unrecoverable in the event of mechanical or extreme corruption.

DO NOT use a utility program if it does not allow you to save an “undo” file of the repairs it makes. If your drive makes any unusual noises, DO NOT attempt to use any type of utility software. Damaging sounds include clicking, buzzing or scraping. Unusual sounds are indicative of a damaged head mechanism or a head crash. Shut down the computer to avoid further damage to the drive and its data. Send your drive to us for professional recovery in our Clean room environment.

13.0. What is meant by a logical issue?

In our standard Quotation and Evaluation reports our customer services personnel and technicians will refer to a “logical issue.”  A logical issue is when the file system that defines where data is stored on a Hard Drive is corrupt and files cannot be viewed.

14.0. What is meant by a physical issue?

In our standard Quotation and Evaluation reports our customer services personnel and technicians will refer to a “physical issue. ” A physical issue is when electronic or mechanical components are faulty or the manufacturer specific service area firmware is corrupt. In all cases the use of  speacialist procedures, tools and test gear will be needed in order to attempt to read your data.

Forensic + Emergency Recovery Answers.

13.0 I Need Forensic Data Recovery ?

If you require this service, you need to be aware that ALL work is conducted under specific terms and conditions and that our standard terms and conditions do not apply. Under these terms and conditions a dedicated technician will be assigned to your case and will work on your project until the case is closed. Forensic cases will be handled by our separate division ; Computer Science Labs Ltd. who specialise in Computer Forensics work.

14.0. Do I need Emergency Data Recovery?

We understand the imperatives that apply to personal or business critical situations. Under our emergency SLA we will attempt to reschedule technician time in order to meet your needs and to assist in any other practical and reasonable manner. Our goal is to return your data to you within two to five working days. However, because of the complexity of data recovery there will be times when it will take longer. n.b. There are no short cuts in providing a quality service. After performing our initial evaluation, we will provide you with an estimated time to complete the work in hand. The decision to continue under this obligation is then your responsibility.

15.0. Is  My Data Confidential?

Datlab’s offers clients a secure offline environment so that they can rest easy knowing their information is kept private. Every member of the Datlab’s team is also under non-disclosure and is selected for their integrity. Our terms and conditions cover confidentiality however we also offer specific agreements to clients.

RAID and NAS Systems

Can data be recovered from a re-formatted RAID 5 volume?

A. In a lot of cases, depending on how the drives were re-formatted. Re-formatting a volume using Windows, for example, will create what will appear to be a new “clean” volume – but the original data will still be on the disk in the “free and available” space. However, a low-level format (usually performed through an on-board RAID controller utility) will “wipe” or overwrite every single block on a drive. Unlike an O/S (or “high-level”) format, a low-level format normally is slower, takes a considerable amount of time and destroys the original data.

Can I run recovery software utilities to recover my RAID.

A. The safest approach to data recovery with a RAID volume (or with any media) is to capture every storage block on each device individually. The resulting drive “images” are then used to help rebuild the original array structure and recover the necessary files and folders. This approach limits continued interaction with the media and helps to preserve the integrity of the original device. One of the dangers in using data recovery software is that it forces the read / write heads to travel repeatedly over areas of the original media which, if physically damaged, could become further damaged and possibly unrecoverable

If a RAID 5 will not mount, should I allow a “rebuild” to run?

A. If one drive fails in a RAID 5 configuration, the volume still operates – but in a degraded state (it no longer writes parity information). The important data should be backed up immediately and verified to be usable before any rebuild operation is started. When it comes to critical data, anything that is used to read or write to the original volume represents a risk. Is the hardware operating properly? Are all other drives in the volume functioning correctly? If you are the least bit unsure, a rebuild should not be performed.

If multiple drives in a RAID volume fail at once, is the data still recoverable?

A. In many cases, the answer is yes. It usually requires that data be recovered from each failed hard drive individually before attempting to address the rest of the volume. The quality and integrity of the data recovered will depend on the extent of the damage incurred to each failed storage device.

Hard Drive Shipping and Packing Information

It is extremely important your hard drive or equipment is packaged carefully to avoid any additional damage during shipment. In most cases we only need your disk drives for data recovery. If we are required to remove a hard drive from the computer an additional charge will apply, additional insurance and shipping charges will apply.

Wrap your hard drive/s in anti-static material. If an anti-static bag is not available to you, a freezer bag will suffice. We recommend shipping in the original manufacturer’s packaging. If this is not possible, pack the hard drive in a sturdy corrugated cardboard box twice the size of the drive, with heavy foam padding, bubble wrap or other anti-vibration materials.

Do not use Styrofoam peanuts as they attract static electricity. Be sure the padding material is at least two inches thick around the drive.

If your drive has suffered water damage, please do not dry it. Enclose the drive along with a damp sponge in a sealed plastic bag to prevent it from drying out. Recovery is more likely if our engineers receive the drive before it has dried.