How long should an HDD recovery take?

Most data recoveries are completed within 3-7 days. The time it takes to recover data can vary quite a bit depending on these factors; queue length at recovery lab, difficulty of recovery, parts needed for successful recovery, tools needed for successful recovery, the capacity of the drive, and the speed of the drive.

Data Recovery Lab Queue – Waiting your turn for data recovery

Most data recovery companies have a queue of drives waiting for recovery to start. Often times this queue is actually the part of the recovery process that takes the longest. When a recovery company does not have enough equipment to keep up with the number of drives they are receiving for recovery, a line can form for each machine, causing a delay. These delays can also be caused by not having enough techs to cover all the drives that are being received for recovery.

Most recovery shops try to keep their queues in the 1-3 day range, but I have heard of shops that are okay with getting a week behind during busy times. Some shops use this longer queue as a method for up-selling priority or expedited service. Skipping to the front of the line of drives and getting the fastest recovery equipment (and usually the best technician).

Difficulty Level Of Recovery

There are some recoveries that require time-consuming techniques to successfully retrieve the data. A classic example is a firmware issue on the drive that requires a few steps to test if the firmware is working enough to access the data. These steps have to be completed every time a change is made, so it can be very time consuming to recover these drives.

Another difficult recovery type is often a RAID recovery. RAID drives spread the data over a few drives, in order to recover the data you have to figure out how the data is spread out. It is a lot like putting together a puzzle. If the RAID was custom setup and the settings were not noted, it can take quite a bit of effort and time to find the settings that will allow you to access the data properly again.

Donor Parts Needed

If a donor part is required to successfully recover a drive, there could be a long wait. There are some drives that have very particular parts that are not readily available. Just finding a donor part can be quite difficult. Sometimes you will wait for a particular head stack to arrive, just to find that it is a slight variation from the one you need, then you have to search for another donor stack and wait for the order to arrive again.

Special Tools Needed

Because a lot of drives are very different, there are some specialized tools for certain drives with certain problems that may not already be in the shop. Most shops have the majority of the tools they need, but once in a while a drive will arrive where the safe recovery attempt requires a new tool. Often times these tools are made overseas, so it can take a while for the tool to arrive so the recovery can be completed safely.

Head combs are a great example of something you may have to order and wait for it to arrive to continue with a head stack replacement. Many new model drives are released that require a new head comb to be able to safely swap out the heads in a drive. Many of the best head combs come from HDD Surgery, which are located in Serbia.

Capacity Of The Drive

I still remember the first 2GB drive my family’s computer had. With 2GB of space it had enough room that we would never need anything else. Now we recover drives that hold 3000x that amount of data every day. Even though drives are much faster than they were, there is still so much capacity on some of these drives that it does take a lot of time to move all the sectors from the bad drive to a new drive during imaging.

The total time of a successful recovery can really be extended when you are working on recovering an 8TB drive instead of a 250GB laptop solid state drive. Also keep in mind that often times if data is encrypted (or other issue with the drive), you may have to image the entire drive before you can run recovery software. This means even if you have only a couple GB of data on an 8TB drive, the recovery company may have to recover all 8TB of the blank drive just to access the little bit that is on there.

Speed Of The Drive

Some drives are faster than others. Cheaper large capacity drives are generally pretty slow and can take extra time to image during the recovery process. Certain issues with the drive may make it very slow to recover data as well. For instance, if there are areas of the drive with bad sectors, a head that is reading slowly, or media damage in an area, the entire recovery process can take a lot longer.

How long do we take to recover data?

3-7 days on average. Sometimes longer if we need to get a part or tool ordered. Need your data back as fast as possible? We do have an expedited service available that will get your data recovered as fast as possible.

While the difficulty level of the recovery can still alter the recovery timeframe, I do have a lot of experience with all types of recoveries. I have watched other recovery techs attempt recovery methods that were not necessary and time consuming because they misdiagnosed the drive. I am confident in my diagnosis abilities after over a decade of experience and well over 10,000 drives recovered.

We try to keep a lot of donor parts in stock, and work with some of the best donor part suppliers to get parts in as quickly as possible when we don’t have them. There are still drives that require us to order more rare parts that can lead to delays, but we do keep you in the loop and let you know how the recovery is progressing.

Keeping a good stock of tools on hand helps us keep our recovery turn around time low, but we will never have all the tools on the market because they always come out with more! It is rare, but sometimes a drive will come in with an issue that requires a tool we don’t have. In those cases we will notify you of the expected delay time while we wait for the tool to arrive.

Sometimes we can get around recovering all the sectors on a drive when you are in a hurry to get your data back. There are certain file systems that allow us to target the area of the drive that is holding your important data.

The speed of a drive may seem like something you can’t change, but the imaging settings you use can drastically change the recovery time. By knowing my imagers inside and out, I am able to complete the imaging process as fast as possible while maintaining safety.

Ready to start the recovery process?

I am pleased to be able to offer fast and affordable data recovery services. If you need your data back fast, give me a call at (620) 615-6836 or fill out my quote form and I will try to gauge how long the recovery will likely take based on your drive and the issues present.