How much does data recovery cost?

16 March 2022 by Sue Ballard

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It can be frustrating and even distressing when your device crashes and stops working, especially with your personal or business files at risk of being lost. When your thoughts turn to data recovery, your next thought is probably, how much is going to cost to retrieve my data?

Unfortunately, this is a hard question to answer with many factors affecting the price. For example, some data recovery providers aren’t upfront about total costs or how much data they can recover.

Our expert team here at Ontrack will always give you an accurate and transparent cost for recovering your data once they’ve been able to inspect your device. But until then, what is the cost of data recovery?

How much does data recovery cost?

The cost of recovering data from a damaged storage device is determined not by the quantity of data or the size of the drive, but rather 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.

Why is data recovery so expensive?

For some people or businesses, data recovery may seem quite expensive. However, the expertise of data recovery specialists ensures the highest chance of your lost data being retrieved. Recovery can only be performed by skilled professionals with years of experience in well-equipped labs and clean rooms.

Additionally, many established companies will use part of any payment to go into research and technology development to ensure their techniques and tools are always as up to date as they can be. This helps with data recovery of all types and will benefit all customers in the long term.

What Primary Factors Affect Data Recovery Costs?

Several factors can affect the cost of data recovery, including:

  • Replacement parts - A reputable data recovery business will keep a well-stocked collection of replacement parts that can be used when trying to repair a device enough to retrieve the data. However, some parts are not easy to find, which can mean buying in the part, or an entirely new device, to be able to recover missing data.
  • Research and development –Investing time and money in new tools and technologies helps a recovery lab stay effective, especially in line with the rapid evolution of cybersecurity attacks
  • Replacement device - Once the data has been recovered, the engineers must place it onto a new storage device and send it to the customer.
  • Quality guarantee – Even after the data recovery process has been completed, the data needs to be checked to ensure all necessary data works and the customer receives the correct replacement device.
  • Facilities and infrastructure - The cost of data recovery has to cover not only the cost of running the company but also the cost of the cleanroom, recovery lab, tools, specialist equipment and donor parts.  
  • Data protection - Data recovery companies handle huge amounts of data belonging to their customers and must keep it all safe. The cost of training staff, maintaining IT security, and properly disposing of customer data all need to be covered in the data recovery cost.
  • Customer service – Any reputable data recovery company will have a reliable customer service team to assist and support its customers.

Can damage type affect the cost of data recovery?

Different types of damage can affect your device, and sometimes, these can make a difference in the cost of data recovery. The types of damage include:

  • Mechanical failure – This can often occur from physical damage and is usually easy to spot as the device can make a loud, ticking or clanking sound.
  • Logical failure – This type of damage can be less obvious because they occur from an operating system or file corruption, including formatting issues and accidental file deletion.
  • Malware or ransomware – Common signs of this type of damage include deletion of files, a ransom note, or locked files and data.

It is important to note that a device can have all three types of failure at once.

With any type of damage, it’s important to turn your device off straight away to avoid any further damage which could become irreversible. By turning off your device, you’re maximizing your chance of data recovery.

Is data recovery cost dependent on the device type?

Yes, the price of data recovery can depend on the device that has been damaged. However it's important to note that it’s not the device that affects the cost, but the type of storage within the device, and the damage done to that storage.

Several types of storage media can be used including hard drives, SSDs, RAID servers and NAS to name a few. This means that recovering data from a hard drive will be different from recovering it from a NAS. The cost of retrieving lost data will depend on the type, size and interface of the storage device, and the type of damage incurred.

Why don’t data recovery companies show their prices online?

It can appear that data recovery companies are hiding their prices, making it difficult for potential customers to get an idea of the cost. But there are a couple of reasons why we here at Ontrack don’t publish our prices:

  • Every data recovery job is different. Some are straightforward and take less time and equipment, whilst others can be complicated and require specialist tools.
  • Remote assessments aren’t always reliable. Although they give a data recovery company an idea of the problem, some customers can’t describe the cause and symptoms of the data loss.
  • Online quotes can accidentally mislead customers. As every data recovery job is different, it’s hard to have set prices online for customers to see as they may feel disappointed if their quote is higher That’s why we like to examine the device before giving a firm price.

How to estimate data recovery costs?

It can be hard to accurately estimate how much data recovery will cost as there are many factors to consider, including:

  • The type of device
  • The cause of data loss
  • The location of the data recovery service
  • The desired timeline

If you’re not sure about the cost of data recovery, it’s best to contact a data recovery specialist who can provide you with a no-obligation quote.

Will there be a diagnosis fee?

It varies. Due to the time it can take, some companies will charge for diagnosis, though it will depend on the amount of data that needs to be recovered and the severity of the damage.

Most of the time, Ontrack will offer an initial evaluation free of charge to assess the condition of the device and establish how we'd access the data, as well as how much of the device’s data we’d be able to recover. Customers can then choose whether or not to proceed.

Unfortunately, in some cases, a deeper diagnosis is needed. A customer may require explicit confirmation that a certain file can be recovered before they give the green light on a data recovery project, which means we must look more closely at the damaged storage device. This service will typically be charged for.

Do prices for data recovery differ between domestic and enterprise devices?

In a way, yes. The cost of data recovery is based on the type and extent of damage as well as the device that has the damage. Therefore, a personal laptop could cost the same as a work laptop, but it depends on the type of damage done.

An enterprise is more likely to experience higher data recovery costs due to the amount and types of hardware they use, including servers, especially if they’re all damaged at once by a flood or fire.

How quickly will it take to recover damaged data?

The time it takes for data recovery will depend on the service level you choose. During the consultation, we will talk you through your options and work to a timeline that works best for the situation. At Ontrack, we currently offer three options:

  • Standard – an average of 7 to 10 business days
  • Express – an average of 3 business days
  • Emergency – an average of 12-24 hours 

It’s important to remember that these are average turnover times and they can depend on the severity of the situation, amount of data, and data transfer speeds.

Can I recover the data on my own?

You may wish to explore recovering your data from a damaged device. This DIY approach may seem like a cost-effective option but always air on the side of caution. Data recovery is extremely difficult and risky, and by getting it wrong, you could cause permanent data loss.

If you are wanting to explore recovering the data on your own, you will need to determine what type of data failure and the extent of the damage you have. There are many resources and free data recovery software available online that can guide you through the data recovery process.

At Ontrack, we offer our own DIY data recovery software which is easy to use and allows you to recover files from corrupt, damaged, deleted, or reformatted drives. Compatible with both Windows and Macintosh operating systems, as well as with both internal and external drives, this solution is perfect for anyone wanting to use the DIY approach.

Data recovery is a complicated operation that requires many years of experience and training. We would always advise on getting a specialist to look at your device if you’re in any doubt about trying it yourself.

I have more questions about your data recovery service, how can I get help?

If you would like to find out more information about Ontrack’s data recovery service, you can: