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Storage Drive Recovery Services - FAQs



Data Recovery Services




Frequently Asked Questions



How are your prices so low?
   Your first thought might be you get what you pay for. At least that's what most of our competition will tell you. We prefer to think of it as only paying for what you need! While other low-price recovery companies are able to offer pricing by only accepting the easiest jobs, our service focuses on charging you for the services you absolutely need, and we can accept drives with any issue! Most recovery companies charge ~$1000 for a recovery. The idea being that they've accommodated for all possible issues, including some of the worst/most expensive. If you've sent a drive with a very simple issue such as bad firmware, they've essentially over-estimated and keep the additional charge as revenue. Firmware is one of the many issues covered by our flat rate recovery service.


We can't promise every drive that is sent in can be recovered without additional cost, but there are many things you can do to avoid them. We can promise that you will only ever be charged for something that is absolutely needed.


Can I drop off my package to one of your locations?
    Sorry, all packages must be processed and received by a postal carrier with package tracking technology like USPS, UPS, or FedEx.


How long will it take to recovery my data?
    SMSI offers 3 different recovery packages, which include different turnaround times ranging from as little as 1 to 30+ days after receiving your device(s). We recommend selecting the recovery package that includes the estimated turnaround time frame you require.


Do I have to pay anything upfront?
    No. You do not have to pay anything upfront but the cost to ship your package to us.


Are there any hidden fees or additional costs?
    Our flat rate pricing is transparent and there are no hidden fees for the data recovery service itself. The ONLY instances of a potential additional cost are:

      1. If your device shipping weight exceeds 10 pounds, there will be a shipping surcharge for the return of your device. This can be easily avoided by only sending your drive, and not your laptop or full desktop, etc.


      2. If you have opened the drive while not in a clean room, there will be a $20+ non-refundable fee in the event we determine your data is recoverable.


      3. If you have had the drive serviced by another company prior to us, we reserve the right to add a $20+ non-refundable fee in the event we determine your data is recoverable.


      4. If your drive has more than 1TB of data stored, there will be a $25 fee per TB after 1TB. Please see the FAQ entry below on this for additional detail.


      5. If your drive requires additional parts to get the drive healthy enough to get the data off. We will notify you if this is the case after completing our diagnostic. If your drive is clicking, beeping, or making other irregular noises, this is a good indication it will need physical repair and require additional parts. WE DO NOT REPAIR DRIVES PHYSICALLY. And of course, if for any reason we are unable to recover your data, due to total corruption or electrically discharged drives upon receiving your device(s), we will ship your device back free of charge for our service. We will only send you an invoice to pay the return shipping costs.


How can I send my drive(s) to your recovery center?
After you select a recovery package and complete the work order form, print it off and include it with your package. You can find our updated address by visiting the "Contact Us" page to ship your package to. You can drop off the package at any FedEx location, UPS, or USPS.


Should I send my entire computer or just the drive?
If the computer is a laptop, you are welcome to send the entire laptop if you don't feel comfortable removing the hard drive yourself. If the computer is a desktop computer, you can avoid a potential shipping surcharge by removing the hard drive and only sending the hard drive itself.


What does “Turnaround time” mean?
Turnaround time refers to the number of business days it takes to recover your files and ship the replacement drive. The turnaround time starts the following business day after your storage device has been delivered to SMSI. This does NOT include any time that may be needed for ordering required replacement parts, time awaiting a response for order status: Processing, or the time needed to complete the repairs. Listed turnaround times are estimates and are not guaranteed. Please note, in cases with extensive physical damage to the drive, SSD/SD/USB chip-off recoveries, and/or multiple failed drive issues, the process can be 20 days or more in the recovery stage, regardless of the package chosen.


What is the return shipping speed?
Return shipping speed refers to the type of shipping method that will be used to ship the replacement drive to you with the recovered data, after the data recovery process is complete.


What if you are unable to recover the specific files I want?
Your invoice will only be billed if we are able to successfully recover user specific files. Regardless of if we are able to recover 10 files or 10,000 files, any user specific files successfully recovered will reflect payment information in your invoice. It's impossible for any data recovery company to guarantee 100% file recovery, especially for storage devices that are damaged. The damage that originally caused your drive to stop functioning in most cases makes it impossible to access some parts of the drive that contain data. Our data recovery technicians will make every attempt to recover as much data as possible, but there is no way to guarantee that specific files will be recovered. If no user files can be recovered from the device (i.e. if the device is too badly damaged), you will not be charged for the service, but will be for return shipping. (Note: If your storage device is too damaged and data irretrievable, you can choose for us to destroy and dispose of it – free of charge.


My Device is making a “clicking sound”. Can you still recover the data?
This is the exact kind of issue that we deal with and resolve on a daily basis. The less you try and use the drive the more likely we will be able to recover data from it. Think of it like a hole in your shirt. The more you keep picking at it the bigger the hole gets. If you think of the issue as a hole and each time you try and turn it on to get data from it as the picking, that's essentially what's happening. The more you try and recover it, the harder and potentially impossible it may be for us to extract the data off of the hard drive.


What if my drive is larger than 1TB?
Even if your hard drive is larger than 1TB, our flat rate pricing still includes data recovery for drives that are larger than 1TB, but actually have less than 1TB of data stored on the drive. For example, if you have a 4TB hard drive with only 1TB of data stored on the drive, that would still be covered by our standard flat rate pricing packages. If there is more than 1TB of data stored on the drive, SMSI charges a flat rate surcharge of $25 per 1TB recovered over the 1TB already included in our pricing packages. If you need more than 1TB of data recovered, simply add a comment at the checkout process and your invoice will be billed accordingly after the data recovery process is complete.


Will you return the original drive afterwards?
You have the option to choose whether or not you want the drive back after recovery during the checkout process. Please note, that the drive should not be used after the recovery service as the repairs made to complete the recovery are not a long-term fix. If do not want your storage device afterwards, you can choose for us to destroy and dispose of it – free of charge.


What is your recovery rate?
Unfortunately, there is no industry standard for recovery rate calculation, so most companies either blindly choose something in the 90% range, or turn away more difficult jobs to avoid lowering a number.


What is an industry standard is the level of recovery your media requires.


Level 1 describes a drive that may have had files accidentally deleted from it, or was accidentally formatted. Recovery is limited to the amount of use the drive has had since that incident occurred. If the drive hasn't been used at all since the incident, this would be a 100% recovery rate for any Data Recovery company.


Level 2 describes a drive that is in need of non-invasive repairs. This may be a PCB board burnout, bad firmware, several bad "soft" blocks/sectors, etc. Recovery in these cases is limited by the ability to correctly make the repair, and the ultimate health of the internal components that may have been affected by these issues. In most cases, a majority of the data, if not all of the data can be recovered without issue. For us, this is 97%+ of all files were successfully recovered to date.


Level 1 and Level 2 jobs are sometimes the only types that companies include in their recovery rate.


Level 3 describes a drive that is in need of invasive repairs. Note: We do not physically repair the drives; This requires opening the drive and making mechanical repairs to the drive. Some signs that you drive might be in need of a level 3 repair are that your drive is clicking, beeping, or the drive spins up then stops. Because drives from fire/water damage are included in this level, some companies don't take on this type of work, and most don't include it in the reporting of their recovery rate. Recovery in these cases is limited by the health of the platters on the inside of the drive. This is where the data is stored, and previous repair and recovery attempts can literally result in a drive not being recoverable when it previously would have.


Are your digital repairs or recovery attempts going to make things worse?
No. Our process is one in which we're targeting the healthy parts of the drive first, then working down to the least healthy. In the event the drive fails during an attempt to access the data on the unhealthiest parts of the drive, we will have already recovered as much data as possible.


Additionally, if you can provide us with a list of the most important data on the drive, this helps us target that data first.


How does this process work?
     1. Start by choosing the package that best suits your needs. The only difference is turnaround time.

     2. After you select your package, we need to get a few pieces of information, including what issue the drive has. Don't worry, we don't collect any financial information up front.

     3. Next, you'll need to print the “work order” emailed to you and include it with the drive(s) in the box.

     4. After you ship the drive, a technician will run a complete diagnostic. Once that is done, if we've determined the data is recoverable, you will be given the option to proceed, at which point we would send you an invoice to pay.

     5. Your drive will go into our queue based on the priority of the package you chose. Once recovered, the data will be sent back to you on a new USB drive.


You will receive notifications during every step of the process your drive goes through.


How will you deliver my recovered files?
After the data recovery process is complete, our data recovery experts will upload the recovered data onto a brand new USB storage device. The new USB storage device (with the recovered files) will be shipped to you via USPS, UPS, or FedEx using the return shipping speed method you selected during the checkout process and tracking information will be sent to your registered email from our website.


How much do you charge if my files are unrecoverable?
$0. Your invoice will not be billed for recovery services unless we successfully recover data from your device. If we are unable to recover any files from your device, you pay nothing, and we'll securely destroy your drive. If you instead choose to have the drive returned to you, the cost of the return shipping is typically $15 or less depending on type of drive, at which we will send you the invoice to only pay the return shipping fee.


Do you supply a replacement drive?
All recovery packages include a free brand new USB storage device. Depending on the amount of data recovered, the recovered files will be uploaded on either a USB flash drive or an external hard drive with USB connection. Any data that is recovered successfully from your original device will be uploaded onto the new USB storage device and shipped to you via USPS, UPS, or FedEx. (Please note, the "replacement hard drive" will not be the same make / model of your original device type.).


How do you handle recovery for RAID servers?
Currently, we are not servicing RAID servers at this time.


Can you recover all of the files or only portion of the files?
This question can only be answered after the diagnostic process has been completed. We will send you an email confirming that user-specific files can successfully be recovered before our data recovery experts begin the data extraction process. If no files can be recovered from the device (i.e. if the device is too badly damaged), you will not be charged.


Please provide us with the priority files (if known) for recovery during the checkout process.


How do you ensure my files will be kept private?
Confidentially is our top priority and we guarantee your files we be kept completely private. Only the specific data technician performing the data recovery process will see the list of files and this information will remain completely confidential throughout the entire process only by that specific technician.


Can you recover data from damaged or broken drives?
Yes, if it can be readable. Our data recovery experts use the most sophisticated data recovery techniques available to recover data from even the most damaged devices. We can also recover data from devices that are broken or malfunctioning - depending on the extent of the damage. We will send you an email confirming that “user-specific files can successfully be recovered” before our data recovery experts begin the data extraction process.


What type of devices can SMSI recover data from?
SMSI can recover data from virtually any type of electronic device and we support every major hard drive brand in existence. (*Currently not accepting RAID servers) This includes Apple Mac Computers, Windows PCs, Micro SD Memory Cards, SD memory cards, USB Flash Drives, SSD Drives, Hard Drives, Android Phones, iPhones and more.