how to recover data from a laptop hard drive?

Posted on 2011-04-19
Last Modified: 2012-06-27
I have a Dell Laptop and the hard drive has failed.  Unfortunately, I do not have a backup.
I would very much like to recover the information from the hard drive as it is directly related
to my business.  What companies are the most reputable and competent when it comes to information recovery from a defective hard drive?  The hard drive crashed...this is not a software problem.  For the most part, how do these companies operate...if they take the drive and give me an estimate...lets suppose they are unable to recover the information.  Do they keep my money?  Also, what is a typical charge for this kind of service?
Question by:capreol
    LVL 3

    Expert Comment

    I have had good luck with onTrack. They have been around for a while also. No backup company can guarentee that they can recover all of your files. It just depends on a variety of factors. Last time I checked it was around $400 to send a drive in for recovery...that was a few years ago. Here is a link to get you started and good luck.
    LVL 10

    Accepted Solution

    You pay for whatever they can recover.  I have been quoted between 600 for removal and extraction to several thousand when the drive is completely bad and they have to remove the platters.

    I can't honestly recommend a company to do it for you as I have never had to go that far, but I would look for companies near by and then look them up on the BBB.

    And are you sure the drive is dead, have you tried to pull it out and put it in an external enclosure or in a PC as a secondary drive?
    LVL 87

    Assisted Solution

    Have a look at Gillware:

    You only pay if they can recover data, but they usually can do so. The price depends on the type of driver and also on the type of error.

    If there was a head crash, they open the disk in a clean room and then examine the platters.
    LVL 22

    Expert Comment

    I have a friend who works doing data recovery for a very recognized and known company. He once told me "...when we give a quote it's because we have already recovered the data...".

    In my experience, it is always best to use the data recovery services of the drives manufacturer (not all manufacturers provide this service). The benefit of this is that if they need the controller board for a specific drive, or need to replace a head or anything else... they probably have it and as rindi mentioned above "...they have the clean room (or clean box) to do it..."

    Bits ...
    LVL 32

    Expert Comment

    Drive Savers is also a very good choice.  Expensive (as are all the good ones) but you should see some of what they have recovered - pretty amazing (fire, flood, bullet holes, dropped from an airplane, etc.).
    LVL 91

    Assisted Solution

    contact these for an estimate; good and cheaper than most :
    LVL 3

    Expert Comment

    Sometimes it's as easy as a board replacement (you can do this yourself).  I found that in about a quarter of the recoveries we do, it was just a board failure.  Just order the exact MODEL of drive that's working, and swap the bottom circuit board.  It can't just be any other Seagate Barracuda 500GB SATA drive for example... it must be the exact model number to be sure it's compatible.

    Also, you'll find rates all across the board, but you don't necessarily pay for the amount of data recovered.  We've sent off to clean rooms where it's all or nothing... as in, they will give you a quote (say $1,200), and once the recovery is attempted they will give you a file list of what's recovered... if it's not 100% of what you want (or enough to be worth the money), you just pay the diagnostic fee and nothing else (you also don't get the partial recovery though).
    LVL 3

    Expert Comment

    By the way, if you're feeling adventurous (and the data is not CRITICAL, or worth $1k)... you can try a head swap yourself.

    It works, we've done it.  Yes, it's not a great idea, but you CAN do it outside of a clean room and as long as you're careful it has about a 60% success rate (for us anyway).

    Author Closing Comment

    Very helpful information.

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