Data Recovery Tiers

I have five separate tiers for my data recovery services. The level of tiers ranging from simple to complex. All cases for getting customers or small business data back fall into these five tiers for data transfer or data recovery below:

Tier 0 – Data Transfer

Data transfers are technically not data recovery. However, every so often I do get a drive or media initially I receive and the customer or company states it needs data recovery. When in fact the data is accessible on the drive or media (USB drive or SD card). Often a computer is broken, but the hard drive is fine. Other times it might be a bad external enclosure for a hard drive. In any case, if the hard drive has properly operating hardware and no software or logical issues exist I can perform data transfer and copy the data from a hard drive or USB, SD card, or other media to a computer, USB flash drive, or external hard drive depending on the type and amount of data.

Transfer data is usually simple, it can be time-consuming based on the amount of data or drives. I can often quote a project price equal to one or a few hours, and copy the data to a USB flash drive, external hard drive, or computer.

Tier 1 – Logical Recovery – Simple

Tier 1 is where we get started. This is generally for any basic data recovery cases. Cases that fall into this level are for hard drives, USB drives, and SD cards that have no hardware issues and a customer has either accidentally deleted files, needs deleted files or folders recovered and or needs lost data. Some cases often include drives that have been accidentally formatted with no new data written to it. This tier also includes simple permissions issues or simple filesystem or partition corruption.

Tier 2 – Logical Recovery Moderately Difficult

The majority of drives with software or logical issues fall into this category. These cases that fall into this level are for drives that moderate software issues and minor or no hardware problems. This tier is for hard drives that have RAW Recovery, lost partitions. This level also covers the need for deleted files or folders recovered, an operating system that has been installed (by a Windows or macOS re-installation) on a drive that needs recovery, drives or media that have some overwritten data, and severely corrupted file systems fall in this range also.

This tier is often used for SD cards, USB drives that have an accidental deletion or been formatted. Often these cards or USB flash drives also can have file system corruption caused by improper ejection or a small number of bad sectors causing a malfunction for the media.

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Tier 3 –  Difficult Hardware and Software Cases

Tier 3 is reserved for time-consuming and complex software cases. It also covers hard drives with many bad sectors, hard drives requiring PCB (printed circuit boards) repair/replacement, firmware repair cases, and drives with stuck read-write heads that be used and do not require additional parts.

This tier covers USB and SD cards that have Damaged PCB Boards, Flash Memory, or USB Drives that have failed control chips, severely damaged PCBs that require directly accessing NAND Memory.

Tier 4 – Hardware Very Difficult

Tier 4 is quoted for hard drives that have failed and are not working. These cases require sourcing of parts and have a high complexity to complete. This level includes hard drives that require read/write head replacements, dropped hard drives, drives that require extensive firmware repair, hard drives that require mechanical internal repairs, and drives with multiple hardware issues. Also the high-density drives, known models requiring specific challenges, time-consuming projects, and drives that have contamination or hard drives that have been opened (exposing the platters), and drives requiring decontamination.

RAID Array Data Recovery and Monolith All In One Chips are included in this tier. “Monolithic” USB flash drives and SD cards have all the internal components of the device, including the “flash memory chip” and the “mass storage controller,” combined into one single chip. Previously it was easy to direct access to the underlying storage medium, monolithic devices are complex.

Tier 5 – Extremely Complex

This tier is available for extremely difficult cases, and very time-consuming cases requiring custom solutions. Drives or media with smoke, water, fire damage, or other serve damage require this tier. This tier includes any case previously worked on and claimed to be  “unrecoverable” by a reputable data recovery company.  Complex virtual machine recovery, unusual file systems, and fragmented file recovery are also in tier 5. Advanced or nested RAID Formats Such As RAID 6, and RAID 60, proprietary RAID types in SAN units, and RAID Arrays with more than 8 drives. Last, are any large complex cases requiring custom programming, scripting, extensive research, and development also fall into this category.

Additional Costs

There are additional fees for onsite work, rush, or emergency service as well as any special purchases or project-specific costs.