The best hard drive recovery services of 2018 recover your lost data

Multiple customer service reps gave us contradictory answers. Many avoided answering our questions and, instead, boasted about the service’s other features. When confronted with this, they rarely admitted they didn’t know the answer and then transferred us to someone who did know. In addition, many of our emails went unanswered.

We awarded additional points to companies that received these certifications from credible, third-party organizations, such as the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants. The two certifications we looked for are, one, an ISO-certified cleanroom, and; two, service organization control (SOC) reports issued from an SSAE 16 audit (Statements on Standards for Attestation Agreements) that verify the service – in this case, the hard drive recovery service – has controls and processes in place that protect the safety and confidentiality of customers and their data.

ISO cleanroom certification governs the maximum amount of particulates allowed in a cleanroom. The most common certification is ISO 5, which allows 100,000 particulates per cubic meter, and the better certification is an ISO Class 4 which allows only 10,000 particulates per cubic meter. It’s important to keep the number as low as possible, as exposed hard drive platters are sensitive and contamination can result in irreparable damage. Many companies claim they meet these standards, but only a few provided the certification by a third party along with the date when it was issued.

The second certification, SSAE 16, has to do with security and privacy auditing. There are different types of this credential (including SOC 1, SOC 2, SOC3 reports) with no common consensus on which is better, so we credited a company for possessing any version. This type of certification is important to clients that have financial and other private, sensitive information on their hard drives. What to Consider in a Hard Drive Recovery Service

Data recovery software, which you can purchase over the internet, can resolve simple data loss issues, such as accidental deletion, reformatting and deleted partitions. Before calling a recovery service, determine first whether you can recover your data with software before going to a service, which will be more expensive.

Hard drive recovery services are equipped to deal with more extensive hard drive problems, including mechanical failures, data corruption and physical damage from disasters. If your hard drive was damaged from a fire or flood, recovery services are the way to go. They physically dismantle the hard drive in a cleanroom environment to examine the actual platters where data is stored and salvage that data with various tools.

While it’s wise to do your research and decide which hard drive recovery service might be best for your needs before something happens, we’ve spent hours researching these services. We’ve spoken with dozens of customer service representatives and have verified the certifications each service claims to have.

The top services on our list offer a "No Data, No Cost Guarantee," which assures clients that they will not pay if the service is unsuccessful at pulling data from the drive. Some services, though, still charge a flat evaluation fee for looking over the drive to see if data can be salvaged. On our comparison matrix, we point out whether a company carries this guarantee or an evaluation fee.

Nearly every service on our list offers expedited service for when you need your data quickly and emergency service for when it’s critical that you get your data back as soon as possible. Depending on how many drives you’re submitting and the extent of the damage, you can get your recovered data within just a few days. Just be aware that these services cost much more than the standard service. Our Verdict & Recommendations

We selected Secure Data Recovery for our Gold Award in part due to its superior cleanroom standards and great customer service. This is the only company with a certified ISO 4 Class 10 cleanroom, making it the only lab that follows a stricter standard regarding the number of allowable particulates within its cleanroom. Further, its customer service reps were helpful and provided consistent information across their many support channels (phone, email, live chat).

SalvageData Recovery earns the Silver Award for its outstanding customer service and transparent process. Representatives got back to us in a timely manner and provided helpful, straightforward answers. SalvageData also lists certifications on its web site for its cleanroom (ISO 5) and data security protocols (SOC 3), which provides further assurance to consumers about this service.

Fast turnaround times and verifiable, third-party security and privacy certifications launch Gillware Data Recovery into third place, and this service is our pick for the Bronze Award. It missed first or second place due to the lack of a full cleanroom (it uses modular workstations instead) and a lower customer service consistency score.