Hard drives data recovery Frequently Asked Questions
My hard drive is damaged!! What should I do?
If your drive is damaged it is very important not to do anything at all and just turn off your computer. If your PC has a hard drive that has your operating system (Windows or Linux) and is damaged, it's better if you turn it off by pressing the POWER button on the computer's tower for 4-5 seconds and NOT use the usual way of turning it off from inside Windows. Don't try or let anyone else try to fix the problem, because you might make things worse and then the data recovery could be impossible or much more expensive. Call us immediately.
How much will the data recovery cost?
To make an online calculation of your drive's data recovery cost, follow this link: Data recovery cost calculation. We have to point here that the cost calculation is an approximation. To determine the actual data recovery cost we should perform an actual drive evaluation.
The data recovery cost is not related to the drive's capacity or the amount of data it includes but solely on the drive's damage and the drive's model (i.e. WD10EARS-00MVWB0).
What happens with my drive's warranty?
Our company is the only company in Greece that retains your drive's warranty after the data recovery. This means that if we open your drive and recover the data, your drive will be replaced according to your warranty. Read more: Drive's warranty retention.
If the damage is known beforehand, can't you make a cost estimation?
No. We should evaluate the drive ourselves in order to diagnose the problem.
I only need a specific folder with files from my damaged drive. Will you charge differently if I ask you to recover 2-3 files?
No. The cost is the same whether we recover 1 ΜΒ or hundrends of GB. The reason is that in order to be able to recover even a single file from the damaged drive, we should have finished the whole procedure (replaced spare parts, cloned the drive etc).
Fine, let's proceed with the recovery!! What procedure do you follow?
As soon as NorthWind picks up the damaged drive we start with the drive evaluation. Then we inform you of the severity of the problem, the percentage of data that can be recovered, and an initial estimation of the recovery time and cost. At a later phase, and after your approval, we send you a list of the recovered data and if you are satisfied we proceed in the actual data recovery by replacing the disk heads, the PCB or whatever else is needed. If the data you want are not included in the initial list you receive, then the procedure stops and you are not charged at all.
In order for the recovery procedure to start both sides should have signed the relevant confidentiality agreement.
What data can not be recovered?
Data can not be recovered when the drive's surface is damaged. The surface can be damaged in several ways, even by a grain of dust which somehow could have entered your disk's internal parts.
Also, nothing can be done when files were deleted and overwritten by other files. This can happen even if you defragment your disk after you encounter the problem. Additionally, after you do a low-level format your data recovery is not possible, simply because your data have been replaced with zeroes in the disk.
In all other cases, regardless your operating system, media or damage, your data recovery is possible, as long as you contact us.
Do you work with SSD disks also?
Of course. SSD disks (Solid State Drives) do not have moving parts but store data on their circuits electronically. The way they work is totally different from that of conventional disks and in general they have a lot of pros and many cons. In any case, we recover data from all types of storing devices.
Can you recover data from RAID Arrays?
Our company is known for its exceptional success rates in recovering data from RAID arrays of all types and regardless of the number of drives they have, their complexity and their filesystem. We specialize in all RAID types and not only the usual types (RAID0, RAID1, RAID2, RAID3, RAID4, RAID5, RAID6, RAID10 (RAID 1+0 & RAID 0+1), RAID50. Additionally, we are one of the few data recovery companies worldwide who can recover data from QNAP and DROBO with great success.
I have a Seagate Barracuda 7200.11 drive and while it worked fine, one day the PC and BIOS stopped recognizing the drive. Can we recover the data?
Yes we can. This is probably a classic problem that this drive family develops, which we have dealt with many times with 100% success. In that case we return your drive fully functional with all your data. We suggest, though, to copy your data in a new drive immediately, since this particular drive model is substantially downgraded.
I have a Seagate Barracuda 7200.11 drive and while it worked fine, one day the drive appears in the BIOS with 0GB size and I can't see my files in my PC. Can we recover the data?
Yes we can. Read the case above.
I have a Western Digital drive and suddenly it shows inside my BIOS with a weird name like WD--ROM--MODEL SABRE, with 0 or wrong drive size and I can't read my data. Can we recover the data?
Yes. When the drive's firmware is damaged then it can't read the drive's properties (model, capacity etc.). It might display capacity = 0GB or wrong capacity. Also it might display instead of the drive model, its family, that is WD-ROM-MODEL HAWK, SABRE, BUCCANEER, ATHENA, SCORPIO, ΜΑΜΜΟΤΗ, UNICORN, ZEUS etc. Data recovery is possible.
I opened my drive and tried to fix the damage myself. Did I make things worse?
Unfortunately yes. Hard drives have their internal parts in a sealed environment and they should not be exposed to the atmosphere. Their exposure means they are 'infected' by dust particles, humidity etc. Especially, if you attempted to access the drive's mechanical parts (for example, tried to turn the platters by hand, remove the head etc), you have probably made the recovery not possible. DO NOT TRY TO ACCESS THE DRIVE'S INTERNAL PARTS. It has mechanical parts which should be accessed by specialized people with the right equipment.
Whatever attempt you make will only result in a more difficult - if not impossible - and costly recovery.
I accidentally droped my drive. Can my data be recovered? If yes, how much will it cost?
There are many companies that claim that they can recover data in any case. Of course this is not correct, since it depends from the drive's type and geomerty as well as the conditions under which the damage was made. If, for example, the drive was dropped while it was operating (reading or writing data), then the chances of data recovery are smaller because that would mean that the heads have hit and damaged the surface. In that case the drive will have to be opened inside a Clean Room in order for the damage to be evaluated. In any case, our company has recovered hundrends of drives that were damaged when dropped, with a success rate of almost 100% for recovered files. For the cost, please use this form.
What about confidentiality?
We pickup your drive using a confidentiality agreement between both sides which safeguards the client from any use of his/her data. We ensure you that confidentiality is crucial to us.
What if the recovered data do not include the ones I really wanted, what will I pay?
Before the actual data recovery begins we will inform you about the files that will be recovered, either by phone if the files are few, or we will send you a list if the files are many. That way you can check if your desired data are included in the files to-be-recovered. Of course, if the data you want can not be recovered you will not be charged at all.
How much does the drive evaluation cost?
The drive evaluation is completely free. Read more.
My data are precious and I need it immediately. When can I have it?
Data recovery time depends from various factors, such as the drive type, its capacity, the drive maker and model and, most importantly, the actual damage. For all damages, finding the right spare parts is required, something that in some cases can be difficult and might take time.Our company has invested in the purchase of 10.000 hard drives as stock that are used as spare parts, significantly lowering the time needed for ordering a spare part from abroad since we use or big stock instead. A realistic delivery time for a 1TB hard drive data recovery with mechanical damage is 5-10 days. For a drive with an electronic damage it is 1-3 days.
What should I know about the drive packaging?
Your drive should be packaged VERY carefully before you send it to us through a courier service. We've had cases, where the drive's condition was dramatically worsened during transfer. Wrap up the drive with bubble bag and use a box with dimensions close to the wraped up drive's dimensions. Fill the blank space with pieces of papers or another soft or foamy material. See here the appropriate ways of packaging.
Is there a way to repair the hard drive itself?
Yes but in rare cases. These are Firmware cases or cases where the drive is locked with a serial number or program and the actual drive's operation is vital. In any other case the drive should be replaced if it's warranty is valid or else it should be recycled. Our company returns you your drive in the condition we picked it up unless we have to break its warranty in order to recover the data.
Is the data recovery cost affected by the data size?
In general, no, The data size mostly affects the recovery time and not the cost so much.
Can you come by our premises to make the recovery?
Certainly not. Whoever claims that he can do that is not a professional. Avoid such companies or individuals because you will probably result in worsening your drive's condition.
In what type of device will you return me my data?
In whatever type you tell us. If the data size is small then we can burn them for free on a DVD. If the data size is big then we will have to copy them to a hard drive which you will have to pay extra.
Why do hard drives get damaged?
The reasons for which a hard drive gets damaged are many. The most usual ones are:
- Power surges. A solution to this problem are UPS devices (Uninterruptible Power Supply). Nevertheless, because we all believe that it won't happen to us, most of us install a UPS after the damage is done. There are also cheap UPS devices which fail to work as expected when the problem occurs. Avoid them at all costs and choose a known UPS brand and in any case Line Interactive. Also, keep in mind that turning off your computer from the POWER button you are not cutting off the power supply from its motherboard. To completely cut off the power supply to your computer you should turn off the power switch that is located at the back side of your computer's tower. If there is not power switch, use a safety power strip and turn it off from there.
- Hardware failure. A very common problem in external hard drives, that can happen to any storage device. Despite the extensive checks made by the drive companies noone can guarantee you that your drive will not fail.
- Power supply from devices that have high fluctuations. For example, power strips that have many devices connected (together with your computer) that consume large amounts of power such as vacuum cleaners, air conditions etc.
- Defective power supply unit. Although underestimated, the power supply unit is one of the most important parts of a PC. Spend a bit more and buy a good power supply unit of at least 500W, especially if your PC has more than one drives and a modern graphics card.
- Other reasons such as your PC's operation conditions, user errors, wrong ways of deleting data...
All the above can cause a serious problem on your drive resulting in having to use data recovery techniques to save your data.
Do you suggest I change my drive before it gets damaged? If yes, when is the right time?
Yes. One could say that the average life time of a drive is 5 years, but this depends on the drive's quality and the conditions under which it is operating. Modern systems will warn you for possible drive malfunctioning (through the SMART system) but you shouldn't count on that. Sometimes the drives 'warn' the owner but usually there are no symptoms. If you notice a strange behavior of your computer while writing or moving data, operating system's issues, or hear strange metallic sounds coming from your drive, IMMEDIATELY copy your data and smile for being lucky to have been 'warned' by your hard drive before it actually crashed. We should note however, that if the drive starts making strange sounds and you have to copy a large amount of data, then it will be better to turn off your computer and contact us.