Professional Data-Recovery Services
A number of companies offer data-recovery services to individual users and businesses throughout the U.S. and worldwide. Although most are reputable and extremely capable, the same can't be said of every company that advertises data-recovery services. Following are a few questions that will help you to ensure that you're talking to someone you can trust, who has the appropriate level of experience:
- Does the company offer free consultation and assessment? Any reputable data-recovery service will offer to listen to your problem and advise you of your options over the phone. They'll also offer to examine a damaged drive at no cost before discussing both the options and likelihood of success with you, as well as the cost should you choose to move forward with recovery.
- Is the company willing to provide customer testimonials and/or references? A company that has experience performing data recovery in any situation, whether for a single damaged hard drive or a data-center RAID array, should be able to provide multiple references for customers who have experienced similar failures. Some of this information should be available on the company's website before you call, but representatives should never hesitate to offer references similar to your own situation (and should be willing to connect you with past customers, if you ask for that option).
- Does the company have experienced Mac recovery specialists on staff who are familiar with your needs? Although data recovery is similar across most computing platforms, there can be distinctly different situations not only between Mac OS X and Windows, but with respect to certain disk formats, file types, and the ways in which applications store data. You should feel confident that the company has experience not just with your type of computer (or portable equipment such as an iPhone or iPad, server, NAS device, or RAID array), but with the type of files you need to recover and the applications that created them. For Mac users, this can also mean familiarity with encrypted disk images, FileVault protected home folders, and Time Machine backup drives (if one has failed). Be specific about your needs. If you detect any sign that the person on the other end of the line cannot provide answers to your questions, move on.
- Does the company have experience in handling sensitive data? You have every right to expect that your data will be kept private. Any reputable data-recovery provider will include privacy statements and guarantees, but you may need to ask about industry standards (such as HIPAA) if you're attempting to recover business data. Even if your data doesn't fall under the jurisdiction of any regulatory bodies, verifying that a company can meet such needs as well as certify their work at a forensic level (more about data forensics at the end of this article) proves that they're reputable and treat privacy and accuracy with the utmost seriousness.
- Is the company recommended by an authorized service center, consultant, or other reputable technician? In some cases, you may contact a data-recovery company directly or be referred. In these cases, software and hardware vendors will likely suggest companies with which they have worked previously, in order to ensure the best possible recovery scenario. This group includes AppleCare support representatives and Mac Geniuses as well as other Apple-authorized service providers and consultants. (When choosing a Mac consultant, check for membership in the Apple Consultants Network or with a business consultant in an Apple retail store.) Even if a company is suggested, do your homework and hold the company to the standards suggested above.
The following providers are known in the Mac community as reputable vendors. If you're in need of services and uncertain where to start, try contacting them:
- DriveSavers is an extremely well-known recovery firm that can handle anything from a damaged iPad to a crushed MacBook Pro to large-scale datacenter recovery operations. They even have a Hall of Fame page on their website listing high-profile and celebrity clients.
- Created as a division of Prosoft Engineering (the makers of Data Rescue 3 and Drive Genius 3), The Data Rescue Center is a good choice for individuals and small to medium-sized businesses. In addition to recovery services for Mac desktops and notebooks, they offer PC and removable-media recovery services, as well as data-migration services and even photo-scanning services. For some services, they also offer a discount to owners of Data Rescue 3.