When my hard drive went down I did a Google search for data recovery and uncovered some real horror stories about certain companies purporting themselves data recovery specialists, so I decided to do some research before I sent my precious data away for recovery.
There are all sorts of rouge companies out there that will for example ask you to send them your drive for analysis and a free estimate, do not do this, as once they have your drive they can charge you what they like and you are still not guaranteed to get all or any of your data back after paying out huge sums of your hard earned cash for donor parts that you did not need, or would not have helped in the first place. You may also be charged elevated quotes for low cost recoveries in the pretence that they were forensic recoveries.
Even worse there are some companies out there that will send you a template report without even looking at or attempting to recover your data or you could just be told that your drive is unrecoverable, as the company in question cannot even be bothered to go through the hassle of recovering data when they find out that your drive is in a bad way (like mine was), and it will take them more time and attention than they can be asked to give, in other words they would just take your money and run. So if you have a drive in need of data recovery, do yourself a favour and read this review before you make a decision.
As already mentioned I did a lot of research before I eventually chose R3 Data Recovery, and have spoken to, and had quotes from at least six data recovery companies, so I thought it my duty to write a report of my findings to stop small businesses and individuals from being ripped off by rouge data recovery companies declaring drives unrecoverable, leading to unnecessary data loss. I am not saying in any way shape or form that the other companies listed here are rouge, read on, and you will see the reasons why R3 Data recovery were my data recovery company of choice.
And remember this, a reputable company will be able to give you an accurate quote from the error description you give them without ever having to see or examine your drive and R3 Data recovery were spot on with the fault diagnosis, the quote that they gave me and there were no hidden extras, even though as I was soon to find out, my drive was one of the most degraded they had seen out of all the drives they had recovered during that current month (August 2014).
Whether it was luck or fate the first company I contacted were R3 Data Recovery, who quoted me £249 + VAT, plus the cost of a drive to put the recovered data back on, ok that sounds good a fixed price quote, they are not asking me to send the drive in for assessment and they have already won me around by telling me they need a drive to put my recovered data onto, which is telling me they are confident they can recover my data, brilliant I thought, I like the sound of these guys, all boxes ticked, although I have a list of companies here so let’s see what the rest have to say.
Next I had a quote from Data Recovery Direct whose economy service was £240-265, which seemed fair enough, although I wanted a fixed price quote so I moved on.
MjM Data Recovery were next and they quoted me £599, which seemed a bit excessive.
The Data Hospital quoted me from £175 + Vat, and also told me that it would be difficult to diagnose and provide precise pricing without evaluating the media, so they were out of the equation straight away.
My next quote was from The Data Clinic who told me that recovery cost would be dependent on fault diagnosis, so in other words they were not prepared to give me a quote until I sent them my drive, they also charged £95 for diagnosis and gave me an estimate for a standard service that would cost between £350 – £650 plus any parts, they are now out of the running.
I then spoke to TRC Data Recovery who told me that those My Book drives are hardware encrypted, and my data may not be recoverable, thanks mate that’s just what I wanted to hear, and that the drive itself could have two faults, drive firmware, or failure of read write heads, and if the fault is the former the cost will be 275 + vat if the fault is the later therefore mechanical the cost will be 375 + vat. What unnerved me about TRC was that they told me the fault was more likely to be the later as, get this they had about 6 hard drives sitting around at the moment with the same issues. 6 hard drives just sitting around, to me that meant this guy does not care about my data and I feel sorry for the customers whose drives were just sitting around, so obviously these people were out of the running then I was told that either way we will send you a detailed report of what can be recovered and it will be a 5 day turn around and we will send a courier to collect the drive. So they also wanted my drive before they committed to a fixed quote, so, that would make seven drives sitting around, no thanks, next.
Data Track Labs were next on my list, they quoted me £175 plus VAT, again I hear the old subject to assessment and that the price could go up to £400 plus VAT, I then had several calls and email from them stating that the cost for recovery for a drive with the kind of fault my hard drive had was now on some kind of special deal and that the cost was now only £175 plus VAT, then in the same sentence, please note if the HDD is suffering from multiple faults additional charges will apply, oh really, I am sure you just told me that the fault could not be diagnosed without assessment. So with the hard sell, the mixed messages, and the special deal for my precious data, this lot were completely out of the running.
The next company I spoke to were Fields Data Recovery, same story, send us your drive and we will assess the fault, send you a report, and the cost for recovery could be anywhere between £2-400 depending on what they find, they also tried the hard sell and I was called at least three times by 3 different people, no thanks, I have a mind and I can make my own decisions, bye.
So after all this calling around and emailing for quotes I decided that R3 Data Recovery were the right choice and I am so glad, from start to finish R3 Data Recovery were trustworthy, professional, reliable and approachable.
I am an Apple developer and in my wisdom I decided one day to take all the data from 3 of my external USB drives, a 500 GB, a 300 GB and a 250 GB, which had been purchased as separate drives and caddies and combined together and which I have had for many years without issues, into one 2TB Western Digital My Book.
Result I thought I now have all my data in one place, the drive seemed reliable, although a bit noisy but this suited me better than swapping around three drives, which were now condemned to a different life, after a format I gave one to my daughter, one was securely erased and binned and the other, which is a NAS drive with all my training on, I thought I would keep as is, I also had a lot of the stuff backed up to DVD, so I thought I was relatively safe.
Wrong! 3 weeks before the warranty expired the WD died in style, no warning, no data, the WD had died on me completely, it was dead, the light just kept flashing, when I plugged it into my laptop the drive was not recognised, and did not even show up, when I plugged it into my Mac the Mac didn’t acknowledge the drive either, Oh dear I’m in trouble now.
As even though I had some of my data backed up on DVD, the thought of copying all that data from DVD back to hard drive made me shudder, the data on my drive, which was currently running at 1.6 Terabytes, had been saved over a period of 14 years or more and I have thousands of backup discs all stored in zip cases, the data on the drive was sorted and the data on the discs is mixed and spans many different discs, some have not even been written on, and just say disc 1, disc 2, etc. Not to mention the shelf life of some of the earlier discs is shall we say well passed, although anyway, I was not too concerned with what I had backed up, it is what I did not have backed up that concerned me.
And what I did not have backed up was all the latest stuff I had been working on, namely all my artwork for a rework of one of my early Apps, the artwork for my last 3 Play Store Apps and Artwork for my last 5 Apple App Store Apps, plus lots and lots of code, all the different App release versions, and the Play Store Key codes had not been backed up to disc, now without any of this a re-release or an update is now impossible.
We are talking all my Photoshop, Illustrator & Flash documents which are irreplaceable & thousands of lines of code, to rework all of that art and re code all those Apps would have been unbearable and all of it had been backed up to the WD Hard Drive that had just died on me as I got complacent and became too reliant on that HD as it was so much easier to copy everything to the drive as opposed to burning discs as well, big mistake!
I was in panic mode now, so got out the screw driver and prised the drive case off and removed the SATA hard drive with the intention of plugging it into my desktop PC and attempting to recover the data myself, no chance, little to my knowledge the WD My Book drives have an encryption chip built onto the ports, so the data on the drive was unrecoverable without using this bit of hardware that WD decided to activate on some of their drives, just in case one day you decided to add password protection, but to be fair to Western Digital, Andy has since told me that my drive was in a very bad way and that It is testimony to the quality of the drive that we were able to nurse the heads through without the need of a rebuild, and even if this drive had no encryption chip I would have never been able to get the data back as the drive was in such a state that I needed some professional help.
How my drive got this way I have no clue, the drive has been babied since new, has never left my house and has been sitting by the side of my Mac for nearly two years, I only moved it a couple of times, and one of those was when I bought the drive back home after purchase, I did ask Andy how my drive could have got so bad and he told me that the damage could have happened anytime in the drives life but been managed by the drives electronics up to the point, more of the drive was being used and more bad sectors were mapped by the error checking functions to the point they could not manage all the bad sectors, more testimony to both Western Digital and the knowledge of Andy, who by the way, is the Operations Manager over at R3 Data Recovery.
So you just never know when your hard drive could fail on you and your precious data could be lost forever, notice I said could!
When I realised this was not something that I could try and fix, that is when I decided to Google data recovery and as mentioned above, out of all the companies I spoke with, I am so glad that R3 Data Recovery were my company of choice, I am so thankful to Andy and Mike for the awesome job they did in recovering all of my data, not just a few bits here and there they managed to recover every single file and directory perfectly, and as already mentioned, the data on my drive was running around 1.6 Terabytes.
Everything was smooth sailing from start to finish, for me anyway as I now knew my drive would be in safe hands. Andy sent a courier to collect my drive which was promptly collected the following day, even though my second contact when I had finally made my decision to go with R3 Data Recovery was on a Sunday at very early hours, Andy emailed me back straight away as he was still working on another job, impressed, I was.
During the process I spoke to Mike on the phone for an update who informed me that they had to build a custom heat sink so the drive would stay on long enough to get the image from the drive and the heat dissipation was to prevent the motor bearing over heating due to friction as there were just short of 4Billion sectors on my drive and several million of those were bad. One of the worst they had seen, at least amongst their current batch of recoveries, and that even new heads would have struggled to improve the read times by a few percent, and that the only cause for this would be a head crash, most likely during power fluctuations or a knock or drop, pointing to slight spindle to motor angle change, all very technical stuff, again making me feel confident that I had made the right choice in choosing R3 Data Recovery.
While my drive was in recovery I was informed of every step of the procedure and also had a very nice courtesy email from Andy reassuring me that my data was in the process of recovery and that there was no need for concern, which was very much appreciated and went a long way to calm my peace of mind and as soon as the raw data image was on the recovery machine, Andy had the faulty drive couriered back to me so I could return the drive to WD for a warranty replacement, now that is what I call customer service.
The recovery did take a bit longer than expected, but considering the state of the drive this was more than acceptable and as soon as my data was recovered from the image and copied to the replacement drive, that was promptly sent back to me with all my data intact and safe, so all in all they sent me three couriers, and recovered every bit of my data, I have no clue how they did it and I really do not know what I would have done without their help, as it certainly would have been the end of my App development days for the foreseeable future.
I whole heartedly recommend R3 Data Recovery to anyone who is of need of data recovery, and would urge you to look nowhere else for the sake of your data and your sanity. In my humble opinion R3 Data Recovery are more than specialists they are genuine professionals.
Copyright © Shane Hogan
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