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Understanding Data Recovery Success Rates: Separating Fact from Fiction

Data recovery success rates are often a topic of debate within the industry. The reported success rates of data recovery can vary significantly depending on the company you choose. It’s essential to be aware that the advertised success rates of many data recovery companies may be unreliable or inaccurate, and in some cases, completely unfounded.

Data Recovery Success Rates

One issue with reported success rates is that some companies base their statistics on the number of cases they take on, rather than the actual recovery rate. Suppose a company only accepts cases it thinks can be successfully recovered (like drives without open covers, drives without any platter damage, or drives without any physical issues). In that case, the reported success rate will be artificially inflated. This is why some companies claim a 98%+ success rate. When looking for a data recovery company to recover your data, it’s essential to research and choose a reputable company that is transparent about its recovery process and success rates.

At $300 Data Recovery, we accept all cases regardless of the likelihood the data can be recovered. 

Another factor to consider is the tools a company uses when working on a device. A company with newer, state-of-the-art equipment may have a higher success rate than a company using outdated tools. This doesn’t just apply to data recovery hardware. The expensive software updates required to keep hardware tools effective are crucial when recovering from the latest models and firmware issues. For example, a recent PC-3000 update provided a novel way to deal with firmware corruption on module 190 for the latest SMR Western Digital My Passport drives and added support for many new SSD controllers. 

At $300 Data Recovery, we use the latest tools and continually renew our software to take advantage of all the latest features.

The level of experience and expertise of the technicians working on the device can also impact the success rate. At larger data recovery companies, you may encounter technicians with varying levels of experience, while smaller companies may only have a few technicians with a lot of experience and expertise. Ultimately, the level of experience of the technician working on your device can significantly impact the chances of successful recovery. If you are fortunate enough to have an experienced technician working on your device, your chances of successful recovery are likely to be higher than if you are assigned an inexperienced technician.

At $300 Data Recovery, we segregate job roles so our technicians can master their duties. The most experienced technician performs the most critical jobs. Brian has been recovering data for 15+ years and does all high-level data recovery work, like firmware repair and drive imaging. Edgar has been working in data recovery for 7+ years and deals with logical recoveries (i.e., moving the data after Brian has imaged the failed drive). Tim has been our clean room technician for 2+ years and only works on mechanical issues (e.g., head swaps and platter swaps). 

One factor impacting success rates is the type of device being recovered. For example, the type of storage media being recovered plays a significant role. A hard drive is more likely to be recovered than an SSD. Hard drives, having been around for 70+ years, are generally better supported by data recovery tools (the issue is usually firmware corruption, head or platter damage, or PCB damage). At the same time, recovery from an SSD may be more challenging due to the lack of support for many controller types, the lack of physically moving and visible parts, and the use of wear-leveling algorithms and error correction.

Redundant hard drives in a RAID array are more likely to be recoverable than a single hard drive as the data is distributed across the drives, increasing the chances of reconstructing the data even if one drive fails. However, a RAID-0 (with no redundancy) is less likely to be recovered than a RAID-6 (when redundancy allows for two drives to fail).

Recovering the data from a broken flash drive is more likely to be successful than attempting a chip-off after removing the NAND chip from the flash drive. A chip-off recovery is a data recovery method in which the memory chip from a storage device is removed and read directly, bypassing the controller and firmware of the device. This method is generally more difficult and less successful than a flash drive recovery due to the lack of support for many controllers and their algorithms (XOR/ECC). Also, there is a higher risk of damage to the chip during removal. On the other hand, flash drive recovery often involves repairing the USB interface or faulty/blown chips on the flash drive’s PCB. A complete recovery is usually achieved if the PCB or interface can be repaired. 

The nature of the problem with the device can also impact recovery rates. For example, if a hard drive has been dropped, the physical damage to the internal mechanical components can make a successful recovery more difficult or even impossible. On the other hand, if a hard drive is simply not responding, the issue may be related to firmware corruption, which may be easier to fix. And, once fixed, the recovery outcome is better (think: all folder structure and data recovered, vs. just some “raw” data recovered without the original file names and folder structure).

When a device fails, most people look for a solution in Google and try questionable methods to revive the device. Sadly, this often involves opening the cover of a hard drive and moving the heads or touching the platters (this causes platter damage or contamination which may render the drive unrecoverable). Then they move on to a computer repair shop that doesn’t have the proper tools or knowledge to recover the data. When the computer shop fails, they typically refer their customer to one of the very expensive companies because they will get a sizable commission. And, when the big company’s quote is too high, the customer starts looking for affordable options.

If recovery efforts have already been attempted multiple times, the chances of success may be lower due to the potential for further damage or deterioration of the drive. For example, suppose the drive’s heads have failed and crashed onto the platters, and it has been powered on several times when being diagnosed by each company. In that case, platter damage can spread, potentially leading to a complete data loss. On the other hand, if the drive is brought to a recovery company as soon as the issue is noticed and has not been tampered with, the chances of a successful recovery will be much higher.

It’s also worth considering what constitutes a “successful” recovery. Is it enough to recover just a single file, or should the recovery be considered a success only if 100% of the data is retrieved? This is a subjective determination that can vary from case to case. Some customers may be satisfied with recovering a single important file, while others may require complete recovery of all the files. And some data recovery companies may consider the recovery of a single file to be a “successful” recovery.

At $300 Data Recovery, we consider 99-100% of the files or sectors to be “successful.” If less than 99% is recovered, we still consider our recovery “successful” if our customer agrees to pay for the data we recovered.

It is difficult to provide a definitive number for data recovery success rates. However, according to a recent Data Recovery Professionals group poll, the overall success rate for all devices is approximately 70%. This success rate applies to all types of devices, regardless of the specific issue or likelihood of data recovery. It is worth noting that this success rate has been decreasing over time, partly due to the increasing use of SSDs and flash drives, which are generally less likely to be recovered than hard drives.

At $300 Data Recovery, we encourage all potential customers to submit a “Chances Form.” This form provides us with the exact model drive, along with its symptoms and history, to provide the statistically derived likelihood that your data can be recovered.

In summary, the success rate of data recovery efforts can vary significantly depending on a range of factors, including the tools and techniques used, the type and condition of the device, and the specific problem being addressed. One key factor is the timing of the recovery attempt; bringing a damaged device to a trusted and reputable recovery company as soon as possible can significantly increase the chances of successful recovery. On the other hand, attempting recovery efforts without proper tools and expertise can lead to further damage and reduced chances of recovery. To increase the likelihood of successful data recovery, it’s essential to do thorough research and choose a reputable company with a proven track record of successful recoveries.

If you’d like a detailed assessment of your chances for a successful recovery with us (along with a price quote), submit our Chances Form. Our lead data recovery technician will respond ASAP (usually within two hours, M-F 10 AM-6 PM PST) with a custom estimate of your chances for a successful data recovery.

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