Data Recovery Prices – Hard Drive Data Recovery Cost Analysis
When you start looking for data recovery prices it is very likely that a computer related accident has happened. Your hard drive has failed, you can not download images form your digital camera or some other problem accessing digital media. You need files that were there until the hardware failed. Computer hardware failure is nothing special, it can happen at any time. It is easy to replace any component—except the data on storage devices. Because hard drives can fail we create backups—a copy of the data stored in a safe place. And when backups are not available and we have lost important data we can count on data recovery service to save out files.
Failed hard drive, important data and no backups. This is a typical case for some companies that are happy when hard drives fail. There are many such data recovery companies offering various data recovery services. They can recover digital data from almost any media: hard drive, CD, DVD, compact flash memory card, iPod, LTO tape, floppy disk, RAID system, etc. Data recovery is possible in most disaster cases but it costs money. Depending on the severity of the problem, recovery procedure may need dedicated hardware and software tools in addition to skilled data recovery experts. Therefore it makes sense to estimate the value of lost files before you start looking for data recovery companies and the cost of their services.
Hard Drive Data Recovery Cost
It is very hard to say anything exact regarding the cost of hard drive data recovery. The first thing that needs to be determined is if the hard drive itself works. There might be electrical and/or mechanical problems. If the drive shows no signs of life then it is still possible to proceed with data recovery but the drive needs to be repaired first. If the drive electronics has failed then the solution is simple but only for bigger recovery companies. They would simply find a drive in their stock with equal model number (and equal firmware version) and replace the failed electronics board with a working one. If the problem is in the mechanics they can open the drive in a clean room and fix the problem. External hard drive has usually additional interface electronics which can also fail, but if this happens you can usually remove the hard drive from the enclosure and connect it directly to the computer or motherboard.
When the drive is operational the next step is checking the consistency of the data. It is very likely that the problem is because the file system is corrupted. This now involves real data recovery operation. The drive content needs to be analyzed and data recovered. Special software tools are needed to diagnose and repair partitions and file systems. But to recover data the software is not enough. You also need some knowledge about disks, partitions and file systems.
Because of very different causes of drive failure it is not possible to determine the cost of data recovery before the drive is analyzed by some expert at the company. So the first step is usually sending the damaged drive to the recovery company for preliminary analysis. Some companies offer this service free of charge. After the cause of the problem is determined and it is known what can be recovered, it is possible to estimate the total costs of data recovery. At this stage you will be given an offer which you can accept or reject. Some companies will send you a written quote with the final price. If the problem is because of minor errors in file system then the price would probably be acceptable. But if the problem was a physically damaged drive then the cost may go over $1000. Professional data recovery service especially for severely damaged hard drives is rarely cheap. Paying thousands of dollars for the data from the failed hard drive is nothing special.
As a rough estimation you can expect the following hard drive recovery prices:
- Evaluation - Some offer free disk drive evaluation, others charge up to $300 for single hard disk drive analysis.
- Quotation – Some bigger companies with years of experience can prepare a quote without seeing the drive. You only supply the basic parameters like the type of computer (laptop, desktop or server), interface type (IDE/ATA, SATA, SCSI, FireWire) and information whether the hard drive is seen by the computer and they will prepare a quote for data recovery.
- Flat rate pricing - Some companies offer flat rate price for single damaged hard disk starting at $250
- Price per disk size - Some companies charge the recovery according to the disk size, e.g. $400 for 40 GB disk and over $1000 for 320 GB disks.
- Price depending on the type of the hard drive problem:
- $200 for minor problems, simple drive recovery
- $300 to $800 for problems with drive electronics
- $600 to $1000 for clean room hard disk repair (disk clicking, buzzing, humming, head does not move)
- Cost of the data transport media - If the recovered data needs to be returned on a new disk you can either supply one or you will have to pay for a new one.
- Partial or total data recovery - If you only need some files the cost will be lower.
- Shipping – You will have to pay for shipping to and from the data recovery company. Expect to pay up to $100 for express delivery.
- Emergency – If you need the data as soon as possible you can request emergency service for additional cost.
- Warranty – Some companies are authorized by disk drive manufacturers and offer extended warranty for additional cost.
- No data No pay – Many offer the possibility of not paying anything if no data is recovered.
- On-site data recovery service – Expect to pay around $5000 per day for this service.
Other Data Recovery Prices
Most data recovery request are related to problems with hard drives. Recovery of data from other media is usually cheaper. For example, memory cards from the user’s perspective behave like disks. Therefore, if the card works and the problem is only a corrupted file system, you can expect the cost of recovery as low as $100 but much more if the problem is in the electronics. On the other hand, tape data recovery requires special hardware and software and the price can only be determined after evaluation of the tapes. Expect prices around $400 per cartridge. Data recovery from CD/DVD or floppy disks is cheaper, prices start from $100. Database recovery starts around $400, while email data recovery prices start around $200.
The Cost of Data Recovery Software
In some cases where the hardware is operational but you have lost files because of program error or computer reset during hard disk operations, you will be able to recover lost or deleted files at home. All you need is a special data recovery software that will scan the disk and with a little help it will recover the files. Here you have the option to try to solve the problem with simple free undelete software or free data recovery tools. Being free doesn’t mean that the software has lower chances of recovering files. It really depends on each case, but some free tools are really good and you are encouraged to try them. The next group is commercial data recovery software. Basic dedicated recovery tools can be found in the price range from $50 to $100. For this price you can find dedicated software like FAT data recovery software, NTFS data recovery software, Digital camera data recovery software, Sim card data recovery software, iPod data recovery software, etc.
Slightly more expensive are universal data recovery tools that can deal with different file systems and can recover different file types. Expect prices starting from $200.