When it comes to data recovery, there are widespread misconceptions and myths that were originated a long time ago and still hold power today. They are mostly harmless, but some of them, if followed through, could cause some severe damage. In this article, we will review and debunk some of those myths.
Myth #1: Data recovery companies are "all-mighty" and will recover anything I need.
We had clients calling us six months after losing some data, saying they didn't have the time back then, and asking for their deleted files now. All of that time, they were actively using their devices, and by doing that – reducing the chances of a successful recovery.
When a file gets deleted – it is not gone. Most of the time, the only thing removed from the file system is the information as per the whereabouts of this file on the drive. With the right tools and knowledge, deleted files can be quickly recovered. That is until they are overwritten. Once a hard drive believes that the space a recently deleted file is occupying is up for grabs, the chances are that a new data coming in will be placed there. And most of the time – that is the end of the road for the deleted file. Once data is overwritten, there is no way back.
On that note – another myth claims that a data sector overwritten with new information contains traces of the data resided there before. Rumours of a "powerful microscope" owned by the government that can extract overwritten data can be found online. Thay may be the case for government agencies, but in the private or corporate world, once a sector was overwritten – it's gone for good.
Another good example would be the number of times we wipe the drives we use in our lab for temporary storing clients' information. When technically, it's enough to wipe the drive only one time, we prefer not to take any risks, and perform a full wipe and overwrite of the drive three times. Different government agencies and organizations around the globe have different standards as per how many times a drive has to be wiped, as described in this article.
Myth #2: I can apply as many DIY techniques as I like – run freeware from the internet, stick my drive into a fridge, open it in a non-sterile environment. The worst thing that can happen – I will fail in my attempts, and then a data recovery company will help me.
With the amounts of data and visual aids surrounding us, it feels like an easy task – just follow the instructions, and you will do fine. Unfortunately, it's not always that easy – many times, those instructions are wrong and misleading. It ends up with users overwriting their data irreversibly, or causing severe damage to the internal platters by opening the drive in a non-sterile environment, touching the internal platters, and even taking them out.
We had a case when a client brought us a couple of internal platters in a ziplock bag, and he was fully convinced that we have a magic machine that allows us to stick the platters inside and get the data recovered.
The best advice we can give you – if you value your data, the proper course of action would be to hire a specialist to help you with data recovery.
Myth #3: When sending my drive for recovery, on top of the data recovered, my hard drive will be fixed and available for further usage.
The truth is somewhat different. 99% of the time, when a hard drive sustains some sort of physical damage, it is rather terminate. For example – once a bad sector appears on a drive, that sector cannot be repaired. Yes, many drives can keep functioning by replacing that bad sector by a working sector from a spare area, but when there are no more spare sectors, the drive will fail. And most of the common operating systems, especially windows and macOS – do not handle bad sectors well. They will panic and fail, and the user will see the BSOD (Blue Screen of Death) on windows, or the macOS failed to start screen.
When we get a drive like this, we use our equipment to skip those sectors. Unlike regular computers, a specialized data recovery equipment will not fail when reading from a damaged sector, but will rather skip it. That way, we can extract the maxim information from the drive, and sometimes even read into the failed sectors.
In more difficult situations, when we replace internal parts such as read/write heads – it is only done as a temporary measure to extract the data. Hard drives are very finicky when it comes to working with non-original parts, and the entire process has to be monitored and performed using specialized equipment, such as PC3000 by AceLab – the most powerful data recovery solution available today.
Myth #4: Data recovery fees are unjustifiably high.
Running a full-scale professional data recovery business requires a heavy financial investment.
The cost of tools alone can accumulate to hundreds of thousands. On top of that, there are monthly software and hardware subscription fees, and additional equipment such as drives, adapters, and cables to be purchased.
For more complicated cases, we are often required to order spare parts. There are dedicated vendors who sell data recovery parts, and those parts can be extremely costly (around 200-400 USD). We do not charge our clients for those parts and absorb the cost.
And obviously, there is always the human element. To provide the best service, we hire and train the best personnel available. The cost of training a data recovery specialist is sky high and requires a great amount of on the job training, as well as specialized courses around the globe.
Data recovery fees reflect all that and allow professional data recovery companies to maintain a high level of service they offer their clients. We fully realize the heavy burden laying on our shoulders – the great honour and privilege of working with your sensitive information and invest all the available resources into education, research and development.
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