Tips for Choosing the Right Data Recovery Provider

Tuesday, December 5, 2017 by Michael Nuncic

Every data loss is different. What seems to be a quite simple statement, is nevertheless still true.  Over the past several years, we have conducted many surveys regarding the reasons why individuals, as well as companies, experience data loss. While some are still the same since the introduction of IT – hardware and software failures, as well as human error, which account for around 90 % of all data losses – some only appear periodically - like natural disasters or virus attacks. But in the last several years with the increased attacks from ransomware or the adoption of virtualization as one of the main technological advances in almost every IT systems more and new dangers have arrived that IT administrators have to deal with.

Until several years ago, it was possible for an IT administrator to recover their data without any help from an experienced data recovery service provider. Given that the data loss had happened without a serious hardware malfunction, it was possible that they could change one (or more) failed hard disks with a new one in a RAID structure, recover the lost data, and make the system work again. Today, virtualized systems have become so complex that various technologies are interlocked with each other, making what was once a simple, almost impossible.

Even a simple low-priced NAS system for a small to medium business or used as a media server in the modern living room holds many features formally only known to high-end server systems. Deduplication in combination with virtualization can become a curse, when such a system breaks down and a current backup is not available.  Here it is nearly impossible for the IT administrator or the user to recover their data, due to the fact that the original data is wrapped by the many different technologies, which have to be recovered layer by layer.

In one particular case, a QNAP NAS system had to be recovered and the Ontrack specialists had to recover 6 different layers until they finally reached the original data. Even with advanced - and specially developed data recovery tools - this was a challenging task.

Modern operating systems and server and storage technology are not the only reasons why data recovery experts are needed more than ever. When it comes to mechanical and physical failures, data recovery experts in the cleanroom are the only ones who can help. Even if you’re a skilled technician, a mechanical failure is something that is too dangerous to do by your own without the special dust free lab and proper knowledge. Opening a hard drive or SSD can be dangerous and could ruin all chances of a successful data recovery. The same is true for recovering data from a smart phone with free-of-charge software off the internet. In many cases the software sometimes overwrites the original lost data without the user´s knowledge, thus destroying it for good.

Those are just a couple of reasons why a private user or even an experienced IT administrator shouldn’t try to recover data themselves and why you should decide for a well-known and experienced data recovery provider when you experience a data loss. But what should you consider when deciding on the right data recovery service provider?

The answer is quite simple: Search for a company that has a well-known reputation in recovering data from your specific device – whether it’s a storage system, laptop, mobile phone or USB. Only sound proof of successful data recoveries can give you some guidance of the quality of service. It’s also a good idea to check reviews in blogs or forums before deciding on a provider.

Last but not least: Remember that the more challenging and timely a data recovery is, the more it’s likely going to cost. It’s the same as if your car broke down because many different parts went bad at the same time.  It’s definitely not wise to look for the cheapest offers, but for the company with the best quality and success rates.  You typically only get one chance at recovery. If a less experienced data recovery firm ruins that chance, the possibility of another company getting your data back is slim. This is a sad fact that we at Ontrack have encountered in all of our data recovery labs around world.

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