Consider a simple data recovery scenario where there is data that needs to be recovered from a disk that isn't damaged, i.e. the disk was formated, and possibly some data overwritten (vs water, burn, or other damage).

Is a data recovery company going to be able to recover more (do a better job) than a free tool like Recuva? I just wonder if they are going to run the same free tool I am, and I would hate to pay 1000 bucks just to have then do the same thing I could have done.

So maybe the data recovery company doesn't use a free, too . . . maybe they have some expensive tool. . . but is it going to do a better job than a free one?

I guess I'm wondering . . . I have recovered what I can using free tools. Should I try a data recovery company? Is it worth it?

EDIT: You all misunderstood my question. My question is not "is it worth it?" That was just a last question tacked on. My question is (obviously, as the title states), FREE VS DATA RECOVERY COMPANY - Can they do a better job?

closed as not constructive by Ward, Zoredache, EEAA, Evan Anderson, Rob Moir Nov 30 '11 at 19:19

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  • Is it worth it? Ask yourself that question. What is the data worth to you? – Ben Pilbrow Nov 30 '11 at 19:14
  • It's worth it if they can do a better job than I can. Otherwise it's not. LOL – richard Nov 30 '11 at 19:15
  • @RichardDesLonde: I think the gist of our concern w/ the question is that the "Is it worth it?" question is different for each particular recovery need. In general the tools at a data recovery company are going to be a lot more robust than what you can bring to bear, however the costs are going to be much greater. Likewise, for some data the risk that you create by trying to do-it-yourself isn't at all worth the decreased cost versus sending it to professionals. It's a case-by-case thing. – Evan Anderson Nov 30 '11 at 19:19

Data recovery companies charge lots of money because typically they have clean rooms and equipment that will disassemble the drives and work on the platters.

This is substantially more expensive than running software-only tools. These people are able to try recovering data from drives that are burned, scorched, smashed, and mutilated.

If you already ran your recovery programs and still didn't get all the data off, what is missing? How much is it worth to you? If you are willing to pay upwards four figures to get it back, then the recovery company might work for you.

If it's data that you can recreate or just walk away from, then no, a recovery company isn't for you.

Chances are pretty good they can get it back, whatever data is missing. But most people don't make the jump from free software to recover information to clean room dissection, and the more you fiddle with the drive the more damage you do to the data's recoverability. If the data wasn't important enough to have backups of in the first place I don't know if you'd want to spend that kind of cash to get it back...

  • Those clean-room tools are primarily useful for a hardware failure though, and not over-written data with the OP was primarily asking about. – Zoredache Nov 30 '11 at 19:22
  • True, but there are some cases where they can dissect it and work unicorn magic on the platters. You still pay through the nose for them to put your drive through the ringer because that's what they have available there to work on it. – Bart Silverstrim Nov 30 '11 at 19:23
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    If a drive recovery company is going to just take your drive and run recuva on it, I'd be very disappointed... – Bart Silverstrim Nov 30 '11 at 19:23

This question is too subjective and will likely be closed. "Is it worth it?" Is something only you can answer, based on your knowledge. Of how valuable the data is.

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