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What’s the most reliable brand of hard drive?

All drives by all manufacturers will die. It’s just a matter of time. No brand is immune. In terms of longevity, some drives do, in fact, fail sooner than others. The problem in answering the question, though, is that it takes years to learn that a drive model is more error prone than others. By that time, the drives have been discontinued and the information no longer applies. The most important thing is to keep the data backed up so that if the inevitable happens sooner than expected, no data will be lost.

How many different hard drive manufacturers are there?

More than 80 companies have made hard drives since 1956: IBM, Seagate, Maxtor, Samsung, Hitachi, Fujitsu, Western Digital, Toshiba, Quantum were the biggest. Only three currently remain. Toshiba, Seagate and Western Digital.

Why can’t I fix the drive myself?

There’s a chance you can. But doing so would have to do with more luck than science. If the data is not important, or is easily reproducible, give it a shot! But if it is important, do not use your own data as a project to “see if you can do it”.

Can I use the drive after you fix it?

No, the drive should never be used again. Drives are often made to work again to retrieve your data, but for this they only need to work for a few hours. Unless specifically requested, your drive will not be returned and will instead be recycled responsibly.

What’s your success rate?

We have recovered data from about 85% of drives that we have seen. The drives counted as successes had most or all data recovered from them. What determines if a recovery can be successful largely depends on what part failed in the drive. Unfortunately, that can only be determined with a diagnostic in our lab. There is not an accurate way to determine this yourself.

Why did my drive fail?

Unless you dropped it, it was probably nothing that you did. Hard drives have a lot of intricate components moving at incredibly high speeds. The fact that they work at all is amazing. You should not be surprised when they fail, it happens to all of them eventually. With luck, they last until you are ready to upgrade. Sometimes accidents or random chance prevent that from happening.

What can I do to prevent it from happening again?

Don’t drop it. That’s about it. Everything else that can kill a drive is outside of your control. So really, what you need to do is always have a backup so that when it does happen again, you don’t lose any data.

What happens to my data once you get it?

It is saved onto a dedicated drive that houses your data in exactly the same way it was on your drive originally. It is then transferred to DVDs or another drive for delivery to you. For security purposes; at no point is it kept on a machine that is kept connected to the internet.

How long does this process take?

This largely depends on why the drive failed. Almost all recoveries are done within a week. Some take longer, most take less time.

My local IT shop (or Uncle, or Neighbor’s kid, or sister, or whomever) does stuff with drives. How are you different?

Professional data recovery is incredibly specialized. Without very expensive and dedicated equipment that is purpose-built for recovery, there is just no way of getting the data recovered on complex cases, and no way of doing it without unnecessary risk on simpler cases.