I am going to start this page with a big *. Not all data recovery companies are out to deceive and over charge you for your recovery. But in my experience there are a lot of companies that tell little lies to make it easier to get you to say yes to them recovering your data. I am going to go over some of those common lies now.
- Your drive has bad heads (and sometimes more!)
- Your data needs to be recovered soon or it will be gone forever
- We have proprietary tools that nobody else has
- Charging per GB of data or by what is being recovered (file type).
- It takes weeks to diagnose unless you pay a rush fee
- Customer Acquisition Costs (what channel you came from, is there a kick back involved, did they pay for shipping, etc).
Diagnosing expensive recoveries regardless of the issue
This is probably the most common type of deceit I see in the data recovery industry. A lot of shops will diagnose every drive as having a major issue like bad heads or scratched platters, to help explain the high cost of data recovery.
There are a few reasons that I have observed when companies use this type of deception:
- The shop doesn’t have the capability to diagnose the drive properly and just sends everybody the same script that has been shown to result in approvals. This happens more when shops are run by a person who is in business to make money and looks at everything through the lens of what brings in drives and customers with minimal effort or risk of loss.
- The shop wants to get the maximum amount of money on every drive so they quote high with a false issue so they can make enough money. Especially when shops get a low amount of drives, they may be tempted to charge a higher rate on every drive so they can make enough money that month to pay all the bills.
- The shop isn’t completing the repair and quotes high to make sure the third party that is completing the work will be able to do whatever is necessary in order to get the data back. The shop may have no idea what is wrong with the drive but wants to make sure they will make money no-matter what before handing it off to another company.
- Recovery companies that are basically just lead generation sites. They may get the drives in with an advertised low rate, make sure the customer is willing to pay more than that rate once the drive is received, then pass off the drives that are approved to the recovery technician who is completing the work.
It can be hard to spot this kind of deception, but if you know it exists, this information may help you trust your gut a little more!
If you don’t approve the recovery now you may not get your data back ever.
The chance of this scenario actually being true is almost zero. There are times where a drive will start working more than it was before, but any recovery technician who knows about recovering data will continue with getting back as much data as possible while they go about contacting the customer. Mentioning that the data may not be recoverable if they don’t act fast is just a way to break through any hesitation you may be feeling and drive you to a decision using FUD (fear, uncertainty, and doubt).
If you feel like you are being pressured into saying yes, you probably are. Data recovery is something that doesn’t need to be rushed unless YOU need the data back fast.
We are the only ones that can complete the recovery because we are the only ones with the correct tools.
There are absolutely some tools (and methods) that are proprietary, but the basic tools that are used by all shops are the same. The PC-3000 is absolutely the number 1 tool used by all recovery shops. If a shop does not agree, they either don’t know about recovery tools or are trying to save face.
The main differentiating factor with different recovery companies is the knowledge of the technician completing the recovery. Some recoveries require little to no knowledge and can be completed by any technician with basic skills, while other recoveries really are difficult and will only be successful when the right technician is looking at the drive.
As you would imagine, the difficulty of a drive and the amount of knowledge needed to recover it can be represented by a classic bell curve. The chance that your drive is one of the difficult ones and you just so happened to send it to the shop that was best suited for it would be unlikely. It would be best to get a detailed diagnosis of the drive and submit it to another recovery company to see if they believe they would be able to get the data back as well.
While every drive can be a special case, some recovery companies make a habit of leaning on this reason to tell you your recovery is an expensive one that only they can recover.
Charging for recoveries on a per GB basis or by file type.
There are some situations where this type of pricing would make sense, but most do not. If you have a type of file you are going after that is from a proprietary or very obscure program, there could be a surcharge for that type of data. But charging more for pictures than you do for excel files or similar makes no sense in almost every case. Be wary of pricing structures that charge more for data that is considered precious (like baby photos or business documents).
Charging by the size of the drive makes a lot more sense! With most recovery techniques, a larger capacity drive will take a lot longer to recover (sometimes even when the drive has very little data on it). A good example is when you have a 4TB drive with 100GB of data, but the drive was encrypted. The safest way to complete the recovery is to recover from the start of the drive to the end. There will be 3.9TB of blank sectors you are getting back, but this way you are sure to not be missing any data when you decrypt the drive. The extra time it takes to recover these large drives makes a higher price reasonable usually.
Rush fees for reasonable turnaround times
Like a lot of service businesses, data recovery shops deal with rushes. Some are explainable like at tax season needing files for taxes, but other times it just randomly gets busy. When this happens, turnaround time can get longer as the shop has to wait for recovery rigs to become available, etc.
If a recovery company has a pricing structure based on the time you need your data back in, they are usually trying to get you to go with a higher price so you don’t have to worry about the data being recovered any longer. So for instance, if their standard turnaround time is 4-6 weeks and in order to get it faster you need to select one of their premium services, which is a higher price, that is them just trying to get you to select a higher tier.
On the other hand, if a recovery company has a rush service available and they let you know the current turnaround time and it is longer than you have, going with the rush service makes sense! But be wary of pricing that is based around speed to completion all the time.
Customer acquisition costs and other variable pricing
When I work with any company in the service industry, I really like to see posted prices whenever possible. Data recovery is one of those industries where the cost to recover a drive really can fluctuate a lot just based on donor drive cost and availability, but a basic fee structure really should be searchable, in my opinion.
When there isn’t any basic fee structure, be wary of companies pricing your drive based on the channel they received the lead on. Sometimes if you are being referred by a shop they are receiving some kind of kickback for referring the drive, and you may be being charged more to cover that kickback.
Other times recovery businesses will have a bunch of dummy locations for you to drop off your drive, then they get shipped into their main facility for recovery. All those dummy locations cost various amounts of money, so the quote on your drive may fluctuate based on where you dropped your drive off (to help cover the cost of running that particular drop-off location).
Long story short, try to find a recovery company to work with that at least provides ranges up front on their website or marketing materials. If they quote you outside that range, double check with another company to make sure they aren’t just doing a bait n’ switch.
My goal with this information is not to create more FUD (fear, uncertainty, and doubt), but rather to help you make more educated decisions by knowing what sort of pricing scams to look out for when you are looking for a company to recover your data.
Remember that you may be in an emotional state when you are looking for recovery. Any company that tries to make you feel bad for not backing up your data, tries to scare you into saying yes to a recovery quickly, says they are the only ones that can recover the data, or other scare based tactics should be recognized as a company that is trying to take advantage of your fear based state of mind. Go with a company that makes you feel relaxed about the process and takes the time to explain anything you don’t understand.