Physical data recovery is ane extremely expensive business, with some data recovery companies charging in excess of $3000 to recover data from a single drive. This has led many at-home computer repair people to dream of setting up their own data recovery outfit, and it has inspired countless data loss victims to attempt to recover their own hard drives. Unfortunately, there’s a reason for that expense–there’s a lot of equipment involved in data recovery. Here are three things that every good data recovery company should have before attempting physical data recovery.
1. A class 100 clean room. Because hard drive read/write heads operate at an incredibly close proximity to the platters that store data, the slightest contaminant, even a speck of dust, can permanently ruin a hard drive by coming into contact with these heads, sending them crashing into the platters and scraping off the magnetic data that the drive had contained. Class 100 clean rooms prevent this from happening while a hard drive is open and being worked on. The Class 100 means that for every square foot of space, there’s less than 100 particles; it’s a designation that’s also used for medical technology. Clean flow benches may also be used for data recovery, but either option costs a minimum of $6,000 to set up and maintain.
2. Firmware repair equipment. The physical components of a hard drive aren’t the only thing that can fail. When the electronics of a hard drive fail, it’s often necessary to work with the firmware of the drive in order to get a clean recovery. Modern hard drives simply can’t have their electronics boards replaced with a similar or even exact model–specific adaptives put onto the hard drive during its manufacture won’t be on those other drives, so delicate firmware work and very careful chip replacement must be used in some circumstances for a recovery to be successful. These firmware repair tools can cost upwards of $10,000.
3. Experience. Unfortunately, there’s nothing quite like experience when it comes to data recovery; each hard drive is like a patient in a hospital, and each problem can be unique, dependent on the manufacturer, model, and more. Good engineers can use their equipment to read around platter damage, can look at hex code to determine whether data is recoverable, and can destripe large amounts of RAID data when necessary. Most data recovery companies have extensive training programs that require new employees to work under a more experienced supervisor for several years for this reason.
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