We recover your data as safely and efficiently as possible.

Our data recovery process follows the same steps used by the biggest and most expensive data recovery companies in the world.

But we also take extra steps to maximize our customer’s satisfaction, like providing timely e-mail updates throughout the data recovery process, manually adjusting every drive’s firmware before cloning to disable potentially problematic features, and “triple-checking” data on transfer drives.

We perform all data recovery services in-house. 

Our Chip-off Data Recovery process is a bit different, find out more here.

The SHORT version of our data recovery process:

1) Determine the fee to recover your data by using our Rate Calculator or submitting our Chances Form.

2) Mail-in or Drop off your device. 

3) We recover your data and send a file listing

4) You approve the file listing and pay our pre-determined fee (if we can’t recover any data, there is no charge — excluding donor drive, return shipping, or our “open cover fee,” if applicable). 

5) We ship back (or you pick up) your data.

The VIDEO version of our data recovery process:

The LONG version of our data recovery process:

1) Getting started

  • Learn the price for your data recovery using our Rate Calculator.
  • Submit our Chances Form to determine the likelihood of a successful recovery (includes price quote).
  • Complete our Mail-In Form. Customers local to Los Angeles can submit our Drop Off Form.
  • After submitting our form, you’ll be emailed a ticket number and shipping/drop-off instructions.
  • Mail-in customers should include an empty hard drive (called the “Transfer Drive“) in the same package as the “bad” drive, if not purchasing a new Transfer Drive from us. Drop off customers may bring a transfer drive when dropping off.

2) We inventory your device

  • When dropping off, the customer will provide us with their ticket number. We’ll email a price quote along with our terms/conditions, and the customer will write back to confirm they agree. Finally, we’ll label all accessories (power adapters, cables, etc.) with customer name, ticket number, and contact information. 
  • For shipped devices, we’ll match the ticket number on the box to the submitted Mail-In Form. We’ll confirm any additional fees and note/label all parts and accessories. email We’ll send an e-mail to go over our rate and policies and start working on the drive after the customer’s confirmation.

3) Diagnostic analysis

  • This involves determining the underlying problem with the device. First, we remove the device from its enclosure or computer and visually inspect the device and PCB (the circuit board). If the cover of your hard drive was previously opened ($50 up-front fee), we’ll inspect the drive in our ISO Class 5 cleanroom to check for damage. If everything looks good, we’ll connect and test the device using one of our hardware data recovery tools
  • Diagnosis will likely also involve testing various components of the device and PCB. This includes testing a hard drive’s heads individually, checking and verifying the integrity of the firmware modules, and backing up all firmware data from the device including ROM and modules. 
  • Depending on the problem with a hard drive, we may open the cover and assess internal physical damage inside our cleanroom.

4) Revive the device

  • Various actions may be taken to revive the device so it’s accessible on a sector-level by our hardware cloning tools. This may include locating and replacing donor parts (such as “heads”), repairing corrupt areas of the firmware, and replacing or repairing bad components on the PCB.
  • email If donor parts are required, we’ll send an e-mail to let our customers know that we are attempting to locate a donor part (and we’ll specify which part we’re looking for). We’ll send another e-mail after the part has been found with a shipping ETA. 
  • If the hard drive failure is due to damaged heads (about 20% of the hard drives we receive), we offer our customers the option of a partial recovery. For example, if your drive has 10 heads and 1 is bad, we may still be able to recover 90% of your data! We can do this by virtually turning off the damaged head in the drives firmware, using a tool like the PC-3000.
  • If we can’t recover any data without a donor part (or, we can only provide a “partial” recovery by disabling the bad head), we will offer you the option of providing/paying for the required donor part. If we can’t recover any data and you do not want to pay for a donor part, you can also decline our recovery attempt and pay nothing. See how a head swap works.

If donor parts (besides “donor heads”) are required to revive the bad hard drive, they will not be returned with the bad drive. Your bad drive will be returned in the same condition as it arrived. If you opt to purchase or provide a donor drive for a heads swap and the recovery is successful, we will keep the bad drive along with the donor drive. If unsuccessful, we’ll return the bad drive with the original heads and keep the donor drive. 

5) Pre-configuration

  • Various steps are taken to minimize risk to the device (especially the heads and platters) to ensure a smooth and successful recovery. Often this includes mapping the heads of the hard drive, disabling advanced (and often problematic) features of the device’s firmware1, and controlling/adjusting the environment of the device.
  • email After this stage is finished, an e-mail will be sent to our customers letting them know their recovery is “In Progress.”

6) Clone the device

  • The most important step is cloning as much data as possible from the bad device to one of our good drives. This process may take several hours, days, or even weeks (worst case scenario). It all depends on the problem(s) with the hard drive, size of the hard drive, the number of bad sectors, and the amount of data needing to be recovered.
  • To complete this process as thoroughly and quickly as possible, we use specialized cloning hardware-software tools. Whenever possible, we specifically target the most important files first. Once the most important files have been successfully cloned, we’ll target the remaining requested files. This prioritization increases the chances of recovering the most important files, in case the device is on the verge of complete failure.
  • We monitor and continuously adjust the cloning parameters to ensure we’re imaging the most amount of data in the quickest amount of time and with the least risk to the device. 

7) Logically inspect the clone

  • After cloning as much data as possible from the bad device, we inspect the clone using our software data recovery tools. Once connected to one of our data recovery rigs, the clone will not “mount” because we have intentionally disabled the part of the device that instructs the operating system to recognize it (“MBR”). This avoids the problem of the OS attempting to repair the drive’s partition in the background, which can potentially destroy data. 
  • The partition and file structure of the device will be inspected to determine the partition damage (if any). We perform no less than two software scans of the clone to ensure all the data has been found. If partition corruption is present, we will perform several more data recovery scans using various high-end software recovery tools to get back as much data as possible.
  • In rare cases, we may need to manually reconstruct the damaged partition in order to access and recover the original folder structure and filenames.

8) Extract data

  • email At this point, all the data which can be recovered has been located and we’ll start moving the files to the transfer drive. We send an email to the customer to let them know how much data was recovered.
  • The most important files (listed on the mail-in form, or noted when dropped off) are verified to ensure they are working properly. Other random files may also be tested to confirm there are no problems with the recovered data (we also verify the “headers” of most files).
  • We always reformat the transfer drive in either NTFS (if the bad device was PC formatted) or HFS+ (if the bad device was Mac formatted) unless instructed otherwise by our customer. If the bad device was Linux formatted, we’ll ask our customers which format they prefer (Mac or PC).

9) Back-up

  • We already have our “clone” of the bad device which we can use as a backup (and keep for a few days). But in addition to this clone, we also keep a backup of all the recovered “files” on an encrypted disk image. In order to make sure your data arrives home safely, we’ll keep this backup for at least 7 days.
  • We also offer our customers the option of extremely affordable Long-Term Data Backup Plans. We keep these encrypted backups on a safe and secure RAID-5 array. 
  • To ensure there are no problems reading the transfer drive once returned to our customer, we also perform a “triple check.” We eject the transfer drive from one computer, mount/check on another computer, and then re-mount and check on the first computer. This extra step helps avoid hidden problems with partition corruption and ensures our customers get their data back in full working order.
  • We also scan all files on the transfer drive for viruses. Any found viruses are repaired or removed.

10) File Listing

  • Although we may send file listings at different times depending on the exact issue with your device, we typically send it at the end of the recovery.
  • email If we recover 99% of the files or more, we still send a file listing after the moving stage to ensure there are no missing files. We require your approval of the file listing before we accept payment.
  • email If we recover less than 99% of the files, we send a file listing of the good/bad files before we start moving the data. This way, you can determine if you want to proceed (for our full pre-determined rate) or decline the recovery (for a $100 labor fee).
  • email The only reason we wouldn’t be able to send a file listing is in cases of extreme partition corruption (usually due to platter damage). In these cases, we’ll let you know the percentage of sectors recovered, and you can decide to proceed or not. And, upon request, we can recover all possible “raw” files (these files are recovered based on their unique file signature; organized by filetypes, without original folder structure and filenames) and send a file listing detailing the number and sizes of these files.

11) Payment

  • email After approving the file listing, we’ll send a payment link. We accept credit/debit cards (including American Express), Apple Pay, Google Pay, and Cash App. If you prefer to pay with cash (drop off customers only), or Bitcoin/Ethereum, you can request this on the payment form. 

12) Recovery finished

  • All recovered data is now on the transfer drive, backed up, and the file listing has been approved by the customer. 
  • email If the bad device was dropped off, the customer is notified via e-mail that the data recovery process is finished and ready for pickup. 
  • email If the drive was mailed, we’ll safely box up the drives, and confirm the return shipping address. Drives are shipped out the morning after receiving payment.
  • email A final e-mail will be sent to mail-in customers with tracking information.

1. Many drives run background scans (like “sectors auto-relocation”) to monitor various aspects of the hard drive during operation. Some drives also use “media cache” to speed up reading/writing. These features/background tasks can lead to very slow reading/writing speeds or even complete inoperability.

We also turn off/disable S.M.A.R.T. — another background task that monitors various aspects of the hard drive like temperature and the number of bad sectors. S.M.A.R.T. is on most modern hard drives. If S.M.A.R.T. logs fill up, the drive can slow significantly or fail completely/click endlessly. 

Questions? Check our FAQ, chat, or .

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