Why is data recovery so expensive?

I am wondering if data recovery can be explained in a step by step with approximate hours for each step of labour.
It is a little too mysterious to be handed an estimate or invoice over 10k for data recovery without knowing what work has to be done, what tools are required (software), how much a clean room costs if drives must be disassembled and how many labour hours are actually needed. Many steps do not require monitoring from what I have learned thus far. I realize that there may be both logical and physical damage/failure but still why so expensive?

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Because it can be hardware related.

Let's say a drive arrives and it needs a new board or read head. Then it's some decade old drive. The overhead of keeping such things in storage means that the cost accumulates over time. You are not paying for just the single event but a decade of storage for the day it's needed.

Then we have truly expensive recoveries like for a Novell server in a RAID configuration. That recovery cost 25K USD. And was worth it since the penalty would have been a few million (a medical X ray database, lawsuit, etc.)

Here's my question back at you. Just last week I picked up a 2TB HDD for 99 bucks. Why are folk not backing up what they can't lose? That's cheap!

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Good question. This situation the RAID 10 (less than 5 years old) configuration with SAS drives was damaged because the user thought surge bar protection was sufficient. The UPS was old and a fuse burned out. Server was plugged into a surge bar until they could "get around" to replacing or repairing the UPS then there was a power brown out. I find that people get used to everything working well and backups become intermittent until something catastrophic happens. 2 out of the 4 SAS drives failed.

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Good example where folk thought RAID meant....

Since RAID 10 has redundancy folk new to this may forgo backup. Since it's above and beyond recovery of the usual single 99 buck drive the recovery costs skyrocket as not only the hardware may need replacement but very high skill levels as well.

"We only lose what we don't backup."

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striped or mirrored?

both drives failed?

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wEll, crap, another old thread

ignore, i certainly

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Don't worry about it, back your system up!

Do as Bob suggests & get yourself an external hard drive and a good backup program and make regular backups. Sooner or later every PC is going to have need for it for one reason or another. If you have data you don't want to lose, you must do this. Otherwise you're going to learn the hard way.
Good luck.

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Time involved costs

From what I've seen, the HD platter(s) are removed to separate spindle and then launched or spun in order to retrieve data. All that requires a clean platter and area to do all this and reduction of any further damage, thus removal from old HD mounting. If damage to platter itself then recovery of any good data and attempts to see what damaged data really can be restructured or rescued as to the data it once was and that takes, "time". As you may understand, time is money and generally is labor intensive when having to be recovered that way.

Of course costs are more related to time factors as to the amount of data rescued/recovery as well having any data to be rescued. That data is transferred to a new HD if so desired or other storage media.

tada -----Willy Happy

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Still need more information.

While I understand the concept of how the data is recovered I would like to know what the labour charge is per hour, what the investment in equipment is and the requirements for a clean room (size, ventilation, services etcetera). While most people want their data quickly and locally recovered do companies in China for example offer the service and what is the cost and turn around time?
I have read where data recovery taking 3 or 4 days (not sure how many hours per day) costing between 9 to 25 k from a damaged RAID 5 or RAID 10. This seems to less about a reasonable cost and more about taking advantage of someone in a bad situation and exploiting their unfortunate situation because they can.

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I'm thinking you haven't given this objective thought.

Take a few minutes and list all the things required to successfully accomplish the job in a reasonably short time including storing and or obtaining parts where needed.


PS Never heard anyone quote any number near $10k.

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The cheapest to the extreme.

Since it varies with the damage it seems you are trying to find justification for the charges.

As to the hourly rate, that would be for the business you are working with the answer.

Stop beating around your issues. Did you lose something and then freak over recovery costs?

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Beating around the issues.

Hi Bob,

I did not lose anything.
A buddy that works for a company did not lose the data just the cash demanded by the recovery people.
Basically they were given a verbal quote of 6k with a surcharge for a rush job. The data recovery consisted of a raid where the platters were not damaged 2 of the 4.
Before the recovery company would release the recovered data they insisted on a 100% surcharge and made several reasons such as they were sas drives etcetera (to me that is extortion). A 100% surcharge is simply doubling of the labour with is why I wonder what is involved. Does anyone here actually know what is involved? Apparently no one has been yet able to answer that question.
I asked for the details to compare the recovery cost and surprisingly the competitor, without seeing the RAID verbally said their estimate would be 9k to 15k. The company that did the recovery invoiced 16k plus tax.
They negotiated it to 12k plus tax.
I really don't see why no one is able to describe how recovery can be so expensive.

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For platter work sounds right.

I'm guessing you want to discount the cost of stocking parts, employees that run about 100 to 200 K a year (good ones that code and do such work cost that much) and how time they are not working also costs so all jobs share that down time.

Recovery is expensive due to costs beyond your specific piece of work. For example repairing your car involves more than the cost of the time and labor for the hour of work. You have overhead in the building, the tools the company bought need to be paid for as well.

-> Folk want estimates so all estimates tend to be high since it must include the worst case scenario. No one will complain if it comes in less but will scream when it's more than the estimate.

As to the surcharge, that's normal. Some folk scream at surcharges so here again YOUR CHOICE to not incur that charge!

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No answer

Hey, no worries.

I was looking for information rather than opinions.

It seems that few people actually know what is involved and the time it takes.


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I can answer from this perspective.

I ran PC repair shops for years. Priority repair is at a premium. Why isn't that an answer?

And while we did data recovery it didn't reach the heights of platter work. It seems to me you want data recovery prices to be a fraction of what they are.

Let's say it can be done for that much less. Wouldn't there be shops with such low prices?

That in itself tells you that the prices were fair.

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You can watch the whole process
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your hard drive is physically damaged

I was told that if hard drive gets physical damage, the fee of recovering data will be affordable to many common users like me. what's more, if you want to recover RAID or encrypted data, the fee is also very high. However, the fee won't be 10K as long as storage device is just logically damaged.
if you just want to recover deleted r formatted files, then you can use eassos free recovery software, which is free of charge.

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that depends

I worked at a recovery company and was responsible for marketing in China, so I may tell something about recovery price.
You are correct, there are logical and physical damage and data recovery is not always expensive. Recovering data from physically damaged hard drive is quite high, which was usually priced at 3K per hard drive. And it is normal to charge 10K when recovering RAID.
you must have heard about data recovery by opening the drive which heads are damaged. recovery center has to prepare a dust-free room and same model hard drives (at least one drive, sometimes they have to buy new drives) as the one to be recovered. besides, technician with rich experienced is required to open the drive. it's reasonable the recovery is expensive. you need to remember that lost data is priceless!
as to logical problem, you don't need to pay any in some cases. there are free partition and file recovery tools online, and you can find and download from the Internet. eassos recovery tools are workable for recovering deleted or formatted data, some are for free and some sells at low price.
Data recovery is not the best solution to protect data, so we need to make backups for important data.

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Advance service reason of expensive recovery

Providing the best recovery service, companies need the well-equipped lab, experienced engineers, and all the advance techniques. And it is possible whether spend some more money.

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(NT) So why not say it upfront that backup is cheaper?
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Why is data recovery so expensive?

The short answer is, it depends on how important your data is to you. We have noticed, over the years, that our customers usually feel that the cost to recover their pictures, documents, or other files is well worth it.

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The real answer

First off, data recovery isn't usually that expensive. In our lab ( we rarely ever charge more than $1,000 for a single hard drive recovery. So $10K does sound a bit overpriced. Typically recovery costs $450-$800. However some labs like to quote extremely high rates for cases they don't think are possible (hoping you'll just walk away). That way they don't have to chalk it up as a loss and can continue to claim 99% success rates (which is actually impossible).

Giving a step by step of data recovery isn't exactly possible either. That's like asking for a step by step or how surgery is performed. Each case is different, the methods will vary greatly depending on the type of failure, brand, model, technology, etc. Sometimes it's rewriting parts of the drive's firmware code to stabilize it and read it, other times it's replacing components. It can actually vary quite a bit. There is no "universal platter reader" as most people seem to think. The original hardware has to be repaired to a somewhat functional state so the data can be extracted. So it means that data recovery engineers need to study and become familiar with pretty much every hard drive design in existance.

Also just like surgery, you're not just paying for what they do, you're paying for what they know. A typical surgery might easily cost $20-30 dollars, and only take an hour or two to perform. But people realize they are paying for the time spend researching, attending college, equipment, supplies, medications, etc.

Data recovery is no different. Just in the room I work in (me alone) I've got over $100,000 in specialized equipment that only does data recovery. In 4-5 years, it'll all be out of date and need to be replaced. I know many people think it should all just be hourly based, but I'd lose money every day if I did that. I need to charge for equipment time, research time, supplies, rent, electricity, specialized tools (some of which we have to engineer ourselves). It's very common that a single case might take a week or more of research to accomplish the task and we actually lose money on the case. Later on, we might receive a similar case and be able to handle it in only a matter of a few hours which helps to offset that time we spent on the first case. Other times we might spend a week of research, only to discover that the task was impossible from the start, and we wasted all that time and never get paid.

And eventually at the end of the day we do hope to make a little money for ourselves.

Keep in mind too that there are easily 1,000 surgeons and 10,000 IT guys out there for every data recovery engineer. So sometimes it really just comes down to time management. If you aren't willing to pay $650 to get your data recovered, someone else probably is and we're going to focus on them instead.

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Meant to say $20-30K as cost of surgery. Lol.

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25,000 USD about a decade ago.

The recovery was for medical records on a Novell server that the IT staff was, well, downsized. While the server ran for a decade without the IT, without the IT to feed tapes and backup there was no backup.

It's a long sad story of management that didn't know the technology. Few today recall running those Novell servers but finally the Novell server did not boot and the legal fallout of not having the records meant they had to be recovered. and 25K later.

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$25,000 for Data Recovery

Wow, that was the good old days when there was virtually no competition for data recovery. Back then, it was really expensive because you had to engineer everything from scratch. Haha.

The most expensive case we've ever done here was actually just a few weeks ago. $5650 to recover the data from a 16 drive RAID 50. Probably should have quoted higher, but I enjoy the challenge of doing the big RAID arrays.

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Today it might run more. Why?

Because most data recovery houses don't deal with Novell RAID systems. Those are too far off beat for them.

I didn't tell all but you know when it comes to medical records they must be recovered as they can be the difference during the usual lawsuits. If your practice didn't keep them, well you lose big time.

The fee was paid gladly.

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Getting Closer to That $25,000 Data Recovery Rate

Just this week we closed out our most expensive recovery case to date. $`14,400. Was for an EMC Clariion RAID 6 with three failed drives. Still haven't hit that $25K price point, but maybe we'll eventually get a case where we can justify charging that much.

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I think the charges for data recovery services varies depending upon the extent of damage or data loss, but nowadays there are plenty of data retrieval companies who help you to recover your lost data and files easily and with 1005 guarantee at an affordable price. You just need to search the Internet for one such precision service provider.

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Data Recovery Costs Explained

I realize this is an old post, but I just stumbled across it and thought I would chime in.

You are asking a question that can't really be answered. A company is going to charge what they think their time is worth and you are also going to be paying for their expertise. It really comes down to determining what the value of the lost data is.

You want an hourly breakdown of charges, and that's just not possible. If it takes them 30 minutes to recover it, but you get back data that would cost $100,000 in labor to recreate...or is irreplaceable...then the time and effort of the recovery lab is really inconsequential to the fact that you are getting the data back.

In a RAID 10, as you described later as being the configuration of your server, I can tell you the step by step processes would be...imaging each drive in the array...analyzing the stripe layout...determining block size, drive rotation, etc....rebuilding the stripe...destriping to a single image and then recovering the data from that image.

Doesn't sound like much work, and it may be a 3 or 4 day process, with much of the process unmonitored...but can you do it yourself? Can your local computer repair guy do it? Can your IT company do it? The answer is going to be no in most cases.

On RAID arrays you can expect to pay anywhere from $900 to $1,500 per drive pretty easily.

It's not taking advantage of anyone, and I know many people think data recovery companies are this greedy conglomerate just waiting to feed on the misfortunes of folks who didn't back up, but that is far from the truth.

You aren't paying an hourly rate. You are paying for years of experience...full access to thousands upon thousands of dollars in customized software plus expensive commercial software used in your are paying for the knowledge of how to do this, without having to go through the time and expense of learning how to do it yourself.

You can't think of it as..."how much are they charging per hour?" You have to think of it as..."how many hours are they saving me?" Obviously if the data is easily replaceable and is not that important, then professional data recovery makes absolutely no sense. However, for most people it is the only viable option, and it is one that they find great value in when faced with the reality that they can't get the data back on their own.

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Couldn't Agree More

I've had a few irate customers who thought we were committing extortion when they were quoted $450-800 for recovery from a failed drive. One lady was demanding to know exactly how many hours the recovery would take. I had to just tell her that she's not paying for the hours it takes me to do this recovery, she's paying for the years of research I did to know how to do it in a few hours, and the years of research I'm still doing so I can handle future cases.

You have to think of data recovery technicians as being like lawyers. You want a good one who knows what he's doing, and people are willing to pay $400/hr for a good lawyer. Not because it costs that much to stand in a courtroom and talk to a judge, any idiot could technically do that. You're paying for what he knows and can leverage in your favor. Customers just can't understand that in data recovery it's the same principle, people are paying for what we know not what we do.

Just last month, I spent a solid week coming up with a way to repair jpeg files that are corrupted by bad sectors. Have yet to make a single red cent for the research time, but I'm confident that in the future a case will arise where this technique will pay off. Won't be able to do the repairs for nothing though, have to recoup what I've already invested.

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