All data recovery companies are NOT created equal. 

But you’d be forgiven for thinking that they were, when pretty much every company positions themselves as ‘the best data recovery company in the world’ with ‘the highest technical success rates in the industry’, not to mention a ‘no data, no fee evaluation with zero commitments’ and ‘data recovery prices starting from £99’. 
Well you know that as soon as one company leads with £99 solutions, the next comes in at £98, and pretty soon you’re at £67.12 and in a race to the bottom. 
But what can you really get for £67.12? The answer is not a lot, and in many cases it is worse than that. If you look for the cheapest service possible, you could well end up with of the highest costs imaginable, namely large fees for ‘bait and switch’ tactics leading to a long bill for ‘unforeseen’ effort required, the operational cost of having to manually recreate your data after an amateur outfit renders your data irrecoverable once and for all, or possibly worse still, the reputational damage of having your data compromised and even held to ransom. 

I’m afraid the age old adage of ‘you get what you pay for’ really does apply here. 

In order to be able to recover from anything but the simplest cases – deleted data, quick-formatted drives, certain viruses – a significant investment in both hardware and expertise is required, and this does not come cheap. 
For most recovery work where the problem is physical in nature, a dust-free environment (known in the industry as a clean room) is required, along with the requisite tools and technologies to be able to disassemble, repair, and even fuse donor or replacement parts together to get the media spinning and / or reading again. 
And that’s only half of the story. Once the storage device is again in a readable, or semi-readable state, and the best possible image of the raw data has been extracted (which is often incomplete), then the laborious (and sometimes manual) process of stitching the data back together again begins. 
This requires data recovery tools (both commercial and in many cases custom-developed), and highly trained software engineers to understand and know exactly how to execute the steps required to turn those ones and noughts back into usable files, all in a defensible and highly confidential manner. 
The data is then generally copied to a new external storage device, or made available in a cloud for the customer to download, with a follow up mechanism once the customer has accessed their data to check the integrity of the work, and re-do it as required if the results were not as expected. 

Does any of the above sound like a £67.12 service? 

If you knew that, much of the time, due to degrading / failing hardware, you would only get one shot to recover your valuable or precious data, would you really feel comfortable entrusting this exceptionally difficult task to the company that shouted loudest about their lowest prices, and used the most superlatives when describing their credentials? 
No. You need to do your research. You need to be prepared to invest in the right tools / company for the job. And most importantly, you need to try and get this important decision of who to help you right first time. 

So what should I expect to pay for data recovery? 

Data Recovery Type 
Low End Fee 
Mid-Range Fee 
High End Fee 
Phone / camera card 
£75 for screen repair or simple card repair 
£300 for recovery / lab service 
£1,000+ for overnight emergency cases or password recovery 
Software / deletion issues 
£100 for DIY software 
£500 for lab service 
£5,000+ for virtual server recovery or ransomware 
Single hard drive device 
£400 for basic lab service 
£1,000 for clean room recovery 
£2,500+ for overnight emergency cases 
Multi-drive server / RAID 
£1,500 for basic lab service 
£3,500 for clean room recovery 
£5,000+ for complex / bespoke development or emergency overnight cases 
£1,000 for evaluation 
£2,500 for simple recovery 
£5,000+ for complex / bespoke development or emergency overnight cases 
And of course, none of this is guaranteed, so be especially wary of those that say it is. Wherever possible get a full report explaining exactly what needs to be done to attempt recovery, what the likelihood is of getting your valuable files back, and what charges will you be required to pay if successful, and just as importantly, if NOT successful. 

How do I pick the right data recovery company for me? 

Your data value is known only to you, but if you feel it is worth pursuing a professional recovery option, and are comfortable with the types of fees outlined in the table, then you still need to do your research to avoid the pitfalls of sending your data to a disreputable outfit: 
Check online reviews for both quantity and quality, but don’t trust them 100% as they can be manipulated 
Look for companies with images of their facilities online, so you can see that they actually have the required technology 
Use companies that are linked to from major industry sites, not those that simply state (on their own website) they work with industry players as that is often a fabrication 
Get a recommendation from a trusted resource like, or a friend or colleague that has used these services before 
If possible, drive up and visit the company in person before handing over your devices 
Get a fixed price for the recovery work, and only proceed if you are comfortable paying that. This avoids any nasty surprises later. 

Data loss is something that will thankfully happen rarely to you, but can be an expensive and potentially risky process when it does. Hopefully this post shines some light on what is involved, and steers you in the right direction. And in future, back up! 

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