How much data can be recovered?

Monday, 28 March 2022 by Ontrack Team

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At Ontrack, our experienced team of engineers will always do what they can to recover your required data. There are a few factors which affect our chances of recovering data from a device, and therefore how much data we’re able to get back for you.

What are the key impacts on data recovery?

There are a few things that can impact how much data we can recover from your storage device, but the main one is the extent and type of damage.

Physical damage, such as from floods, fire or even dropping the device, is more likely to cause problems when trying to recover data than hardware issues. Plus, the longer physical damage is left, the harder data is to recover. If fire and water damage are left for a long time, the chances of data recovery will decrease.

Another impact on the data recovery process is whether you, or someone else, has tried to recover the data on their own first. Although this seems like a cost-effective solution, if done incorrectly, can have a detrimental effect on the likelihood of data recovery. We always recommend speaking to a professional before attempting any data recovery yourself to give anyone the best chance of recovering the data you need.

How much data will be recovered?

The amount of data that we can recover will depend on the extent of the damage, and what data is required. Our main concern is recovering the critical data you require most so we’ll always target that first where possible. Once we’ve recovered the critical data as well as we can, we’ll always circle back and attempt to recover as much of the rest of the data from the device as possible. This is the reason we ask questions about what data is most important at the beginning of the process – so we can prioritize that during recovery.

Will all my data be recovered?

Our first aim is to recover the critical data you require, rather than just targeting any data that is on the hard drive. Once we have targeted your critical data though, we’ll always circle back to try and recover as much of the rest of the data as possible, provided that the device remains working long enough for us to do so.

For us, a successful recovery is more about what we can recover, rather than just how much.

Can I help improve the success rate of data recovery?

The best way to improve the chances of a successful data recovery is to not try and recover the data yourself, and instead to contact a professional. In our experience, when someone who is not trained tries to recover data, it can have a negative impact on the chance of success.

Another way to help ensure successful data recovery, when your device has physical damage, is to get it to a professional as soon as possible. This will help increase the chances of data recovery as, when left, the amount of damage can increase and it make it harder to recover the necessary data.

Will putting my hard drive in the freezer help?

No! It’s important not to listen to myths and do not put your hard drive in the freezer if it’s damaged or malfunctioning (yes we have heard of this quite a lot!). Although it may have worked in the past, putting your modern hard drive in the freezer won’t help, and could actually damage it further making it harder to retrieve your data.

If you have longer to work to recover my data, will you get back more?

Unfortunately, more time does not always mean more data. The amount of data we can recover from a storage device is impacted by the type of damage rather than the length of time we have to work on it.

Does the type of device impact how much data you can recover?

No, the type of device will generally not impact the amount of data that can be recovered from it. Here at Ontrack, we can work with a range of different devices, including:

If your device is not listed, don’t worry as we’re able to work across a host of devices. However, if you’re concerned your request is unusual, do get in touch and we can discuss your options.

What cost is involved?

The cost of recovering data from a damaged storage device is determined by the time and effort that goes into getting the data you need.

For example, it could take minutes to access 10TB of data from a hard drive that has been affected by a simple virus, but hours or longer to get 5MB of vital data from a severely fire-damaged smartphone. In this case, the latter would still cost more even though the volume of data is much lower.