Data Recovery Lab: Learn more about Gillware's Recovery Lab

Gillware has a 14,000 square foot recovery lab in Madison, WI. Our staff of over 30 data recovery and forensic specialists is ready to meet your data recovery needs. Gillware started serving clients in 2004. Since then, we have become a world leader in data recovery technology, using advanced data recovery techniques.

Recovery Lab - Forensic Imaging Equipment

Gillware uses its own proprietary hardware and software bundle to create forensic images of failed storage devices. Our original imaging engine was called “Chico”. Chico was named after our then-lead software developer, Justin “Chico” Mosso. In 2007, we made massive upgrades to Chico. The new software was christened “Hombre”. Hombre is, without a doubt, one of the most powerful data recovery tools in the world. Hombre makes intelligent, fault-tolerant, forensic images of the storage devices sent in to our recovery lab. A unique hardware driver only allows read access to the devices. It is impossible for us to alter any of the data on the device. Hombre also has the ability to parse and utilize file system and file metadata while imaging. Hombre is also far more fault-tolerant than any other data recovery software package on the planet. When hard drives are repaired, they rarely behave optimally. Maybe they can only read one sector every 30 seconds. In this case, most operating systems will just throw up their hands and give up. Sometimes a drive can take up to ten minutes to report as ready in the BIOS. But Hombre doesn’t care. There are many ways to configure Hombre. An operator can tweak time outs or send soft or hard resets if a drive needs it. Hombre can also be configured to automatically power down a drive that has had too many read errors in a row. This level of control is what makes Hombre such a powerful data recovery tool. Hombre knows how to parse the file system metadata in 99% of the cases we see in the recovery lab. It keeps a status map of the read status of billions of sectors. Hombre also keeps a relational database of file systems and files. It then cross-compares its status map with the file system database and file metadata. This process shows our data recovery engineers which data has been successful read. The data can then be shown to our end users. Our clients can see which files have truly been recovered before they decide whether or not to pay for our services.

Recovery Lab - ISO5 Clean Flow Benches

Internal hard drive repair must always occur in a cleanroom environment, since dust and particulates should never be allowed to gather on the platters in any circumstance. Due to their modular construction, clean flow benches are the preferred clean room of choice for Gillware’s recovery lab. As business expands, we can easily add more benches without performing the expensive construction work of a hard wall cleanroom. Gillware has had to move to larger facilities four times in the last thirteen years to accommodate more staff and more equipment. And the modular cleanrooms came with us! Cleanroom benches are not only more portable. They are also much less expensive than hard wall cleanroom environments. This provides lower costs for both our recovery lab and our clients, while providing the same degree of cleanliness. Our cleanroom benches are tested by a third-party compliance tester on a quarterly basis. Our test results for May 2018 can be viewed here: Gillware Hood Test Reports May 2018

Recovery Lab - Platter Restoration Equipment

In a spinning-disk hard drive, all of your data is stored on hard disk platters. These platters are coated with a thin ferromagnetic substrate. When a hard drive is damaged, the read/write heads that normally float a few nanometers above the platters can collide with them and scrape off some of the substrate. If this happens, the read/write heads as well as the platters can be severely damaged. The dangers of this are twofold. Not only has a portion of your data been irreversibly destroyed (and the read/write heads as well). Particulates kicked up from the collision can embed themselves in other parts of the platters. Any replacement read/write heads we put in on the drive depend on the platters having a smooth surface, so platter dust can cause severe damage to them. If something isn’t done about that dust, any further data recovery efforts will be in vain. At Gillware, we’ve developed our own platter restoration equipment for our data recovery lab. The hard drive platter burnishing tool we use is based on the same tools hard drive manufacturers use to buff out imperfections in their platters. First of all our glide burnishing equipment must identify the amount and severity of the platter damage. Then it shaves off anything sticking up above the platter’s surface. Think of it as an extremely precise, nano-scale razor. The result is a far smoother surface that our replacement sets of read/write heads can read data from.

Recovery Lab - Data Destruction Equipment

One side effect of offering in lab data recovery services is that we have access to a whole lot of extremely sensitive information. Gillware’s data recovery lab has serviced over 80,000 in lab recoveries and for the vast majority had our client’s data recovered. The storage that temporarily holds our client’s data is 100% sanitized between cases so we never, ever share information with an incorrect party. The internal customer data drive that holds onto the forensic image copy is connected to our data recovery CRM via serial number. We know the exact drive we copied and exactly where that copy went. After the data has been delivered to our end user, the drive is sanitized and watermarked and ready for the next customer. The successful data destruction history is also logged in our CRM. All an engineer needs to do is insert the drive into our drive sanitizer. An automated process looks up the drive by serial number and checks the CRM to see whose data is stored on it. It then confirms that it is okay to actually destroy the data. If all is clear, the sanitizer securely overwrites each and every sector on the drive. This process can take around a day, depending on the size of the drive. When the sanitizer is done, another data recovery engineer removes the drive from the machine. The drive is put back into circulation as clean as the day it was made.

Recovery Lab - Quality Assurance

The last step in the data recovery process before we ship off a client’s data is, of course, quality assurance. At Gillware, we have a quality assurance test for every drive that leaves our facility. We have to make absolutely certain that our customers only receive the data intended for them. Since we deal with so much sensitive information, this is a crucial part of our data recovery lab’s operation. When we extract our forensic image of a data storage device to a new hard drive, Hombre deposits a quality assurance file into every folder. Every single case we receive gets a 100% unique QA file pattern. Before we send a destination drive off to our customer, we have our quality assurance software scan the drive for this QA file. If it encounters even a single QA file that belongs to another case, then the customer’s data could be contaminated by data from another case. The presence of a foreign QA file will always make a destination drive fail the quality assurance process. We never ship data to a customer without getting a green light from our QA system first. We extract our recovered customer data with hardware-level encryption. When we generate a password, it is sent only to the intended recipient. Therefore, our customer service representatives and the intended recipient are the only people in the world capable of accessing the data. This keeps your important data safe and secure. If it is mistakenly delivered to the wrong address or intercepted while in transit, then nobody can access your data.

Recovery Lab - Replacement Parts Inventory

The vast majority of cases in which a hard drive has been damaged require our engineers to seek out replacement parts. Each manufacturer builds their hard drives differently, so every hard drive is unique. The differences from model to model, even from the same drive manufacturer, can be enormous. In this situation, the last thing our engineers want to do is have to order parts online. Finding a compatible replacement part for a failed hard drive can be a trial-and-error process. Even parts from the same model may not be compatible enough. There’s nothing worse than ordering a replacement part on the internet, waiting a few days to receive it, and then finding out that it just doesn’t work. Our hard drive donor library is Gillware’s solution to this dilemma. We have over 100,000 hard drives in stock. These hard drives come from every hard drive manufacturer. There are old models, new models, and everything in between. We are constantly adding more hard drives to our library. Our data recovery engineers rarely have to travel farther than our local library to find the right donor part. Our donor library helps us perform our data recovery cases quickly. Thanks to our library, we can offer quick case turnarounds, and not just for emergency data recovery services. Many cases are in and out of our data recovery lab in less than five business days. Expedited emergency recovery cases can leave our facility on the same day they enter.

A World-Class Data Recovery Lab at an Affordable Price?

Gillware’s modular cleanroom benches are ISO-5 certified Class 100 workstations. Our entire facility is SOC 2-compliant for data security. The hardware and software tools we use for data recovery are top-of-the-line. Our data recovery lab is held to high standards of cleanliness and security. Not only are our prices lower than our competitors, our entire process is financially risk-free. We charge no upfront fees for evaluation or recovery. We’re even happy to cover inbound shipping costs. We have a “no data, no charge” policy. If we don’t recover your data, you don’t owe us a dime for our services.

Why Choose Gillware Data Recovery?

Gillware’s data recovery services are affordably priced, technologically innovative and completely secure.


Best-in-class engineering and software development staff
Gillware employs a full time staff of electrical engineers, mechanical engineers, computer scientists and software developers to handle the most complex data recovery situations and data solutions
Strategic partnerships with leading technology companies
Gillware is proud to be a recommended provider for Dell, Western Digital and other major hardware and software vendors. These partnerships allow us to gain unique insight into recovering from these devices.
RAID Array / NAS / SAN data recovery
Using advanced engineering techniques, we can recover data from large capacity, enterprise grade storage devices such as RAID arrays, network attached storage (NAS) devices and storage area network (SAN) devices.
Virtual machine data recovery
Thanks to special engineering and programming efforts, Gillware is able to recover data from virtualized environments with a high degree of success.

Security / Privacy

SOC 2 Type II audited
Gillware has been security audited to ensure data safety, meaning all our facilities, networks, policies and practices have been independently reviewed and determined as completely secure.
Facility and staff
Gillware’s facilities meet the SOC 2 Type II audit requirements for security to prevent entry by unauthorized personnel. All staff are pre-screened, background checked and fully instructed in the security protocol of the company.
We are a GSA contract holder
We meet the criteria to be approved for use by government agencies
HIPAA compliant
Our entire data recovery process can be handled to meet HIPAA requirements for encryption, transfer and protection of e-PHI.


No obligation, no up-front fees, free inbound shipping and no-cost evaluations.
Gillware’s data recovery process is 100% financially risk free. We only charge if the data you want is successfully recovered.
Our pricing is 40-50% less than our competition.
By using cutting edge engineering techniques, we are able to control costs and keep data recovery prices low.
Instant online estimates.
By providing us with some basic information about your case, we can give you an idea of how much it will cost before you proceed with the recovery.
We only charge for successful data recovery efforts.
We work with you to define clear data recovery goals for our technicians, and only charge you upon successfully meeting these goals and recovering the data that is most important to you.

Gillware is Trusted, Reviewed, and Certified

Gillware has the seal of approval from a number of different independent review organizations, including SOC 2 Type II audit status, so our customers can be sure they’re getting the best data recovery service possible.
Gillware is a proud member of IDEMA and the Apple Consultants Network.