The Real Cost of Data Recovery

Updated on 6/29/2015

Professional data recovery is not inexpensive, and those who pay for it do so because their lost computer files are worth retrieving.

Sometimes the value of the data — a company’s entire customer database, for instance — dwarfs the cost of the recovery. Other times, all that is needed is just one photograph — one 4MB photograph.

We don’t think that how badly a client needs their data should determine their price. Instead, we try to reflect the actual costs of getting it back.

What are the Actual Costs of Recovering Data?

In terms of the work necessary to perform a recovery, it would not matter which data set — the photograph or the database — is on a hard drive.

To recover data from a troubled hard drive, a lab has to correct or repair any physical or electrical damage, address any trouble in the firmware or file system, and solve any other issues that prevent the data from being read.

Once these hurdles are crossed and an image of the drive can be taken, the hard work is typically over. It did not depend on how much data was actually recorded to the platters of the hard drive. What mattered was the complexity of the drive itself, how it was formatted, and what caused it to fail.

Breaking through these barriers is a bit like breaking open a safe: once it’s open, it’s open – the contents of the safe only determine how large of a bag you need to transfer the contents, not how difficult it was to gain access to them.

Thus, pricing per gigabyte of recovered data is driven by marketing considerations, not by accounting for actual recovery costs.

Getting back to our example, if a lab were charging by the amount of data recovered, it might charge the client with the recovered database several times as much as the client with the lost photograph.

This might be a strategy to capture more consumer surplus — or, in other words, to set a price closer to the maximum each individual client is willing to pay — but it is not a pricing scheme that accurately reflects the lab’s costs.

Does Hard Drive Size Affect Recovery Costs?

While the number and size of the files recovered isn’t related to the overall cost of the recovery, the size of the hard drive itself does often times influence the cost. As you’ve probably gathered, the real costs of data recovery come from the amount of engineering and labor required to get the data back.

The size of the hard drive factors into this because larger hard drives involve more complex recovery processes and take more time to perform. So while the files themselves have little to do with the cost of data recovery, the hard drive size does.

How We Set Our Prices

At Gillware, we base our prices on the amount of work necessary to recover the data and its difficulty to perform.  It would be disingenuous to our customers to do otherwise. After performing a free evaluation, we provide a price quote to the customer based on the complexity of the recovery and the labor we anticipate it will require.

Before anyone decides to pay our price, they are presented with a full directory of what we got back. They see file names, time stamps, and file sizes. If the client would like a technician to open specific files and review the contents to make sure of what’s there, we are happy to do that. Our policy is to set a price that accurately reflects our effort and charge that only when our client decides we succeeded.

If you’re in need of data recovery services, check out our free buyer’s guide to ensure you make an informed decision when choosing a recovery lab.