Frequently Asked Questions

Pricing | Safety | AbilitiesTransfer Drives | Donor Drives | Other/Miscellaneous




Transfer Drives

Donor Drives



How much will it cost?

We have pre-determined flat fees: $300, $400, and $500 (this doesn’t include the cost of a Transfer Drive, shipping, or a Donor Drive, if applicable).

We highly recommend that all customers submit our Chances Form prior to sending in or dropping off their device. Our response to this form includes a price quote and the estimated cost of a donor drive, along with the likelihood that we’ll be able to recover your data (and a lot more useful information).

We do not provide shipping labels. The customer is responsible for shipping their device to us after submitting our Mail-In Form.

Return shipping costs $20 (within the USA). International shipping is determined once the recovery is finished (we charge you whatever USPS charges). Customers may provide a return shipping label.

*Multi-drive recoveries, RAIDs, servers, or shipping an entire computer instead of the bare hard drive may incur additional fees due to size/weight. 

When do I pay?

Besides the four exceptions noted below, you will pay nothing until we recover your data and you approve the file listing we send you. 

Note: if producing a “file listing” is not possible due to partition corruption or platter damage/bad heads, you will pay after approving the percentage of sectors we were able to recover.

  1. Cover Opened Fee
    If the hard drive’s “COVER” (not “enclosure”) has been opened, there is a $100 up-front, non-refundable fee.

  2. Priority (“Rush”) Service
    Our Priority Service requires a $50 up-front, non-refundable fee.

  3. Deleted Files / Format Recovery
    We charge our full fee up-front for “deleted files recovery” and “format recovery” devices. We’ll refund the recovery cost (minus a $100 labor fee) if no working files can be recovered. Read more details here.

  4. Donor parts
    In some cases, we may need to replace damaged parts inside your device (i.e., “heads”). If so, we’ll tell you the cost of the donor parts we need to purchase (and send a link to the exact part we need), and you can decide if it’s worth the cost. You’ll pay the actual price of the donor drive as listed on eBay or donordrives.com (the two main sources we buy from). Payment for a “donor drive” is due BEFORE we order it, and this cost is non-refundable. You can get an estimate on the cost of a donor drive for your model by submitting our Chances Form.

    You may also provide a donor drive if you already have an identical drive available.

    Note: we do not charge an “attempt fee” for performing a “head swap” or “platter swap.”

Will you send a file listing of the recovered data before I pay?

Yes. But, we may send them at different times throughout the recovery process.

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 rate) or cancel the recovery (for a $100 labor fee).

If we recover 99% of the files or more, we still send a file listing, but after the moving stage to ensure there are no missing files. We require your approval of the file listing before we accept payment.

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.

Can I pay in installments? Do you offer payment plans?

If you cannot afford to pay all at once, we can accept payment plans on a per-customer basis. We will exclude all storage fees if you pay at least a small amount on a recurring basis. However, we only send back the recovered data once we’ve been paid in full.

What type of payments do you accept?

We accept cash, credit/debit cards (including American Express), Bitcoin/Ethereum, Apple Pay, Google Pay, and Cash App.

If you need a “buy now, pay later” option, consider the Affirm Virtual Card.

Is there an extra fee if the cover of my drive has been opened?

Yes, there is a $100 non-refundable up-front payment required.

This fee is due to the increased diagnosis/repair time required after the cover has been opened. Opening the cover can create several other problems, separate from the original problem, which makes repairing the drive more difficult and time-consuming.

The $100 is put towards the recovery fee if your recovery is successful.

Note: the “cover” is not the same as the “enclosure.” If you have an external hard drive and just removed the plastic enclosure (e.g., to find the drive’s model number), there is no extra fee. If you removed the “cover” of the hard drive, you would have seen the platters inside the drive; see below.

Example of a hard drive with an “open cover.” Left: cover on. Right: cover removed.

Many more “open cover” examples below:

Do I have to pay the “Over 2TB” fee even if the total amount of data on the drive is less than 2TB?

Yes. We still charge this fee because the time associated with recovering large drives often depends on the amount of space used. For example, we often need to clone the entire drive before actually recovering any files.

What is the cost to recover a Western Digital “My Passport?”

Here’s how our rate works (for a “My Passport” drive; excluding “Element” models which do not have Smartware encryption):

– If we recover 99-100% of your data, you’ll pay our $500 fee. Note — this total includes our $100 “USB PCB” fee (because the USB port is soldered onto the PCB) and our $100 “Encryption” fee (because your drive contains WD’s “Smartware” encryption).

– If we recover less than 99% of your data, you have the option to pay our $500 fee or pay a $100 labor fee and decline the recovery.

– If we can’t recover any data, there is no charge (assuming the cover of your drive wasn’t opened, as this incurs a $100 up-front non-refundable fee).

Prices do not include a Transfer Drive, Donor Drive, or shipping, if applicable. 

Why are credit card processing fees not refundable?

Typically, we don’t offer any refunds. However, if you canceled a recovery that required an up-front payment, credit card processing fees are no longer refundable due to a change from our credit card processor, Square. You can read more about their new refund policy here


How do I know my hard drive and recovered data will be safe?

Your Data’s Safety

What is your website’s Privacy Policy?

 Privacy Policy

Who will actually “see” my data/files?

Only Brian (Lead Technician) and Edgar (Moving Technician) will see any files on the drive. Typically, we only spot-check a few random files to confirm the recovery is as expected. If we don’t open at least a few files, we can’t know for sure if the data is good even if the files were 100% recovered.


What problems / hard drive failures can we solve?

See “Our Abilities” page. Or, even better, submit a Chances Form, and we’ll write back with a detailed and realistic estimate of your chances for a successful recovery.

What is your typical turnaround time?

Our average turnaround time is 5-10 days for standard service. If you need your data back as fast as possible, consider our Priority Service (usually 1-2 days; excluding shipping time for donor parts, if required).

Do you outsource recoveries to another company?

We perform all repairs in-house.

If we cannot recover your hard drive, we may refer you to another company for a second opinion (just as you’d probably visit several doctors for a serious medical issue to confirm the diagnosis). 

If we can’t recover your failed flash/SSD device, we may offer to send your device to another company (we have special agreements with a few companies for our customers). If they can recover your data, our same rate will apply (typically, $300 for all flash/SSD devices, excluding multi-chip chip-off recoveries) if you cover the shipping fees. 

Transfer Drives

What is the difference between a Transfer Drive and Donor Drive?

Transfer Drive” is our term for the drive we move the recovered data onto. Learn more about Transfer Drives on our rates page.

A donor drive is necessary in cases where the heads have failed, the motor is bad, or the spindle is stuck/bent. In such cases, we replace parts in the bad drive with “good” donor parts (or move parts from the bad drive into the donor drive).

How will the recovered data be organized?

We always try to recover the original folder structure, as it appeared before the device failed (including all folder names, file names, file extensions, and metadata/dates). Retaining the original structure/names is possible in ~95% of all cases. However, recovering the folder structure/file names is impossible if the MFT or Catalog file is unrecoverable or corrupt. This can happen in cases with severe media damage (e.g., scratched platters), partition corruption (e.g., “FSCK” or “CHKDSK” damage), or if the drive was formatted/overwritten (even in these cases, we can often recover at least some structure/names). 

What are the rules/requirements for providing my own Transfer Drive (drive to move recovered data onto)?

1) Send us an empty drive. Your Transfer Drive will be formatted (all your data will be permanently deleted) before we start moving the recovered data.

2) If your Transfer Drive is defective (i.e., contains bad sectors, un-mounts itself while moving data, etc.), we will move your data to the smallest drive we have for sale.

3) The drive must be an external USB external drive or a bare SATA drive. We cannot move to PCIe/NVMe/M.2 devices. 

4) Your Transfer Drive cannot be a NAS drive (with an ethernet connection) or a USB flash drive (unless the bad drive is also a flash drive).

5) The drive must arrive in the same box as the bad drive (you cannot send in a Transfer Drive after we receive your bad drive). If you fail to include a Transfer Drive with your bad drive, we will move your data to the smallest drive we have for sale.

6) The drive should be equal to or greater in size than the bad drive (you could send a smaller drive, but if it’s not big enough to store all your data, we will move your data to the smallest drive we have for sale).

Do I need to include the USB cable or AC adapter?

We do not need USB cables (not for the Transfer Drive or the “bad” drive). But, if your Transfer Drive uses an AC adapter (that is: you don’t have a “portable” drive powered from the USB cable), you must include this AC adapter. We don’t need the AC adapter for your “bad” drive (if it used one).

Can I provide or buy one Transfer Drive for 2+ bad drives?

Yes. However, we will only work on one recovery at a time. Once the first recovery is finished and moved to the Transfer Drive, we’ll start on the next drive. If the Transfer Drive you provide is not large enough to store all the recovered data, you’ll need to buy a Transfer Drive from us.

Donor Drives

What is a Donor Drive?

A donor drive is necessary in cases where the heads have failed, the motor is bad, or the spindle is stuck/bent. In such cases, we replace parts in the bad drive with “good” donor parts (or move parts from the bad drive into the donor drive).

Donor Drive” is a data recovery term for a fully working hard drive with as many matching characteristics as possible to the “bad” drive. The most compatible donor drive is one that matches all specs from the bad drive. Besides the information visible on the hard drive’s label, several other variables can only be accessed using our data recovery tools, such as the number of heads in the drive, order of heads in the drive, and version of the head-stack preamplifier, head micro jog values, etc.

Note: “Transfer Drive” is our term for the drive we move the recovered data onto. Learn more about Transfer Drives on our rates page.

Can I provide my own Donor Drive?

We do not advise purchasing a donor drive at this time for several reasons:

    1. We haven’t yet established the heads are damaged, and a head swap will be necessary.
    2. We haven’t yet confirmed that the top platter is undamaged and the filter inside the drive is clean (to confirm a head swap could work).
    3. If we determine a head swap is necessary, we will then find the most compatible donor available.
    4. The most compatible donor is one that matches all specs from the bad drive. Besides the information visible on the hard drive’s label, several other variables can only be accessed using our data recovery tools, such as the number of heads in the drive, order of heads in the drive, and version of the head-stack preamplifier, micro jog values, etc.

We only recommend providing a donor drive if you already have an identical drive available (i.e., you bought two or more of the “bad” drive simultaneously). Buying a donor drive now means the drive may not be compatible and you would be potentially throwing away money.

If you already have an identical donor drive, you must include it when shipping/dropping off your bad drive. Be sure to write “DONOR” on its label. If we do not need the donor drive to recover your data, it will be returned to you in the condition it arrived. Keep in mind that we won’t know for sure if it’s compatible with your bad drive until we can test it (and determine the head preamp version, micro jog values, etc.).

Why do you keep the donor drive (after performing a “head swap” or “platter swap”)?

There are several reasons why we need to retain these drives after the recovery is finished:

1) The time spent re-assembling the “bad” drive and the “donor” drive means double the work for us. This extra time makes the recovery unfeasible to perform at our low rate.

2) We can only perform head swaps knowing that we can reuse the donor parts in future recoveries, keeping our costs down and low flat rates possible. To help preserve the donor parts, so we can reuse them in future recoveries, we don’t want to risk moving them any more than is necessary. Moving the heads back into the donor drive means they are more likely to become damaged (as any time they are moved, they are at risk).

3) Any time the cover is removed (and especially the “heads” or “platters” replaced), the drive is no longer reliable and will not work properly. It is only useful as parts for future data recovery purposes (it has no real-world value).

Why is a donor drive so expensive?

Donor drives are expensive because the companies that sell donor drives (and importantly, list all the necessary specifications we need to find a compatible donor drive) know how much most data recovery companies charge and price donor drives accordingly.

Finding a “compatible” donor drive means matching various aspects of the original/failed drive, such as the number of heads inside the drive, order of the heads in the drive, version of the head-stack preamplifier, head micro jog values, country hard drive was manufactured, date the drive was manufactured, and more. Only “donor drive” websites list all this information. Sites like Amazon and eBay typically do not list all these specifications, and therefore, we do not purchase donor drives from them because the drives would likely not be compatible.

Can you re-use donor drives from a previous recovery, so I don’t need to purchase one?

To provide the best chances that a head swap will succeed (meaning: it will allow us to recover at least some data from your drive), we always use a new/fresh donor drive (one without an open cover and without the stress of already being used as a donor drive).

We may choose to use one of our donor drives if the first donor drive fails (or is only partially successful), and we think a 2nd head swap will allow us to recover more data.


Will my bad drive be returned?

We always return the bad drive unless we perform a “head swap,” and it’s successful. But, even in this case, you can opt to have us put back the original heads and return the original drive for an additional $50 fee.

How do I find out the model number of my hard drive?

To find out the model of your hard drive, you need to look at the label on the bare hard drive. Use the example model numbers pictured on our “Find Your Model” page to help find your hard drive’s model number. You’ll need to remove the enclosure if you have an external drive. You can find video instructions on our “Remove Your Enclosure” page.

 More questions?

Live chat or call (323-230-0622) from 10 AM-6 PM (PST) Monday-Friday; or send us an  any time.

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