Crashed Disk? No Backup? No Worries (For a Price)
The three options outlined above should suffice to keep any home PC out of trouble. But suppose you do not want to spend the extra money, are lazy, or both? In this writer’s case, it was just plain laziness. Over the past four years, several PCs were left running without backups and during that time, over three hard disks simply died.
The worst incident happened when I backed up drives from three PC onto a cheap single-disk external drive, with movies, family pictures, and videos. I had meant to make a copy of the data on another disk to have a duplicate, but let’s just say that between doing something fun during my free time on weekends or at night and taking care of my data, I chose the former. Then one day, I heard that infamous click and my drive would no longer boot.
Recovering data from a crashed disk will likely require the services of a professional lab (software alternatives are emerging, but that will be the subject of a subsequent story).
I chose CBL Data Recovery Technologies [link: www.cbldatarecovery.com], which is one of only a few labs in the United States that offer nation-wide services. I do not claim that it is the best, but the firm is established and has offices around the world. CBL Data Recovery Technologies also successfully recovered data from a damaged disk for me a few years back.
So, does it cost thousands of dollars to recover the data from a damaged disk? It can, but prices do vary. CBL Data Recovery Technologies says in “90% of the cases, 90% of the time” the service costs $500 to $3500.
The process is straightforward: you call or email CBL Data Recovery Technologies and arrange for shipment of the damaged disks to one of the company’s locations. Upon receipt of the disks, CBL Data Recovery Technologies then emails a form acknowledging that it got the media and lists the details of the disks, including the manufacturer and product number. The company then sends a report assessing the damage and what costs are involved about 24 hours later. Once the customer gives the go ahead, CBL Data Recovery Technologies will then recover the data from the damaged media, which can take just a few days or longer, depending on the damage (in my case, the data was recovered in about 48 hours). CBL Data Recovery Technologies then saves the recovered data on a working disk and ships it back the customer.
But if you engage their services, you may be surprised that your disk is not damaged as badly as you thought it was. In my case, all of my disks only had minor damage. Upon receipt of drives at the lab, tests and analyses revealed that none of my disks were extensively damaged. The external drive’s problem was likely just an issue with the AC adaptor or external case, the company said.
The most damaged disk was a 40 GB Maxtor device. According to the company’s assessment, it suffered a typical failure when “the defect map of the unit fills up with errors and needs to be cleared out in order to gain access to the data sections.” But even that disk only required relatively minor work to recover the data.
The cost and efforts required to recover the data from my batch of disks was on the low end of the price spectrum. While the company did not detail the exact cost, a representative from CBL Data Recovery Technologies said the per-disk data-retrieval fee would have probably been for less than $500.
The moral of my lab story is that if you really need your data recovered, it is worth the price to at least get an estimate from a credible service because the cost might not be as high as you thought it was.