datarecoveryPeople working in computer repair often think that data recovery and general computer repair are completely different fields. It is assumed that computer repair is associated with the replacement of computer components, software installations, virus removal, and so on and that data recovery is a different story about expensive hardware and complex operations like hard drive head replacement. However, home users believe that once you call a computer repair specialist, this encompasses everything related to computers including data recovery.

In this post, I will show that entry-level data recovery service can be and should be integrated into every computer repair business, providing additional income at minimal added expense, since:

  • you do not need to search for clients and spend money on advertising (people already think that you do it),
  • you already have the skills and equipment.

Data recovery is divided into two distinct job types:

  1. Data recovery from mechanically damaged devices. This is where complex skills and expensive hardware equipment are required. Hardware starts at $3000 a piece and requires about the same investment into donor parts for training.
  2. Logical data recovery, involving logical rebuilds of filesystems, RAIDs, and NASes. Such a recovery does not require large expenditures.

In this example we will be focusing on logical data recovery. According to our experience, you are likely to get more cases than you’d expect. Logical data recovery gets the majority of all data recovery cases. Also, do not forget about NASes becoming more and more popular to store large amounts of data (typically valuable data). Logical failures in NASes occur quite often.

Such cases require neither a clean room nor special data recovery hardware. Software, a standard set of hardware, and knowledge – that’s all you need. Let’s discuss all in order.

Warning

First and foremost, you need to have the expertise to decide when the case is beyond software-only recovery. Working with storage devices from a client, you need to be very careful with mechanically damaged devices. The fact is that such devices tend to degrade even more if not handled properly. Typical signs of mechanically damaged drives involve clicking, grinding, high-pitched whine, or any other abnormal sound. Also devices which are not detectable in BIOS typically do not yield anything in software-only recovery.

Generally, any customer hard drive should be cloned immediately upon arrival. Any problems with cloning, such as an excessively slow process, indicates that the drive needs mechanical intervention.

Data recovery software

Software is your main tool in logical data recovery. Available data recovery software ranges from free tools to toolkits worth up to several hundred dollars.

Surely, to start with you can try your hand with the free tools; however, they are not suitable for serious work. Even if you manage to recover something, you will have to spend a lot of time sorting the recovered data, not to mention more complex cases like RAID recovery for which such tools are just not designed for. Start with software which has already proven itself in the market and vendors of which provide quality technical support. I suggest you to have a look at:

Knowledge

To start doing data recovery services, obviously you should have knowledge about storage devices (HDD/flash/RAID), filesystems, and also be able to estimate the chances to successfully recover data in a particular case. Although there is a lot of information about data recovery, it is impossible to assimilate all of this quickly.

There are data recovery courses which are different in prices, duration, and focus. There are free online training course devoted to various aspects of logical data recovery like www.data.recovery.training. Most “seated class” trainings are more focused on the work with mechanically damaged storage devices involving expensive hardware. Such courses are usually expensive, costing several thousands of dollars. Most popular courses are MyHardDriveDied data recovery training from Scott Moulton and The InfoSec Institute Data Recovery course.

There is a ton of useful information related to data recovery at www.hddguru.com which is a site that brings together data recovery experts.

Hardware

There are no special requirements for a small-scale logical data recovery cases. However, as cases become larger, say, NAS/RAID cases, it is unwise to throw a 2012-built laptop on the case and expect it to work. To do large recovery cases efficiently, one needs good hardware.

Personally, I’m sure you know enough about hardware. I just want to highlight some points that are important in data recovery. In data recovery motherboard, memory, and CPU are the components we need to pay attention.

Motherboard – When choosing a motherboard you need to take into account the number of free ports for disk connections. Generally, something like 6 ports sounds reasonable. Connecting disks is easy via USB; however, disks connected directly to SATA provide you faster read speed that is important when dealing with large disks. Additionally, SATA has less stability problems.

Memory – Data recovery tools, by their nature, operate with large capacity of data often requiring large memory consumption.

CPU – Remember that most data recovery tools do not use many processor cores, so if you come to choose between more cores and higher frequency, go for higher frequency.

Overall you should be looking for a minimum i5 based system with 16GB RAM and as many SATA ports as you can get.

Let’s summarize, if you work in a computer repair business it is not so difficult to expand your business by including data recovery service. The hardest parts have already been solved; you have the clients, the skills and the desire to earn additional income.

Elena Pakhomova

Co-founder at ReclaiMe
Elena is one of the founders of ReclaiMe Data Recovery Company, she has been involved in the data recovery field since 2009. While not recovering data, she provides online data recovery courses aimed at data recovery technicians both at the beginners and the experts

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