Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Off-Topic - If You Ever Have a Hard Drive Disaster...

A brief break from our normal programming...

Last month I went through a very rough stretch after the hard drive on my 1-year old HP laptop failed.  2 days out of warranty, and all of a sudden my computer was useless.  Not only would it not power up, but I found out that despite the best efforts of a friend who makes his living working on computers, my data could not be recovered by any of the recovery software out there.  Like a fool, I hadn't backed up hardly any of the data.  Now what?

I was shell-shocked. All I could think of is how stupid I was for not backing up my data, how thousands of hours of work were gone in the blink of an eye. I started researching professional data recovery companies, requesting some free quotes. Some had interesting pricing packages listed on their website, but a quick check around the web revealed that many had been charged more than expected by such companies, or had been required to pay non-refundable fees before recovery was attempted on their drive only to be told that no data was recovered. Upon recommendation from a friend, I checked out a local company which wanted to charge for the diagnosis then require another non-refundable deposit of $300 with no guarantee of anything. These companies take someone who is in a stressful, horrible situation and then they add another layer of stress and pressure by forcing the customer to take on all of the financial risk while the data recovery company assumes no obligation.

Then I found Gillware. Their promise was that you would not pay unless they recovered your critical data. I checked around the web, and their reputation seemed solid. So I packed up my faulty hard drive along with a new external hard drive to transfer data to and I mailed them out. Two days later a friendly lady from Gillware called to tell me that the drive had arrived and they were going to begin diagnosing the problem. Later that same day I received an email with a diagnostic report and a quote. The report said there was a 75% chance of recovery. I called to ask a few questions and received friendly and helpful answers. I was even given a tip by the representative on how to get free return shipping for my hard drive once the process was completed. My company owner called in the following business day and also received kind assistance. We gave the go-ahead to attempt the recovery, still with the assurance that if the data we needed was not recovered we would not owe anything. What a relief it was to know that we were not on the hook for a large deposit with no assurance of results!

A couple of days later I received an email with links to access the file tree for all recovered data off of my hard drive. I can't even express what a feeling of relief it was to begin looking through it and find that 99.9% of my files were there, with only 3 or 4 files of no real importance that weren't recoverable. I called and requested that they check a few of the most critical files and make sure that they opened successfully. Again, a friendly voice returned my call within 24 hours and let me know that the files had opened and were working fine. We paid our fee, gave the code to get free return shipping, and 7 business days after they had received my hard drive I had my data back, intact with original folder and file names.

I wouldn't wish for anyone to be in the position of having lost critical data. In fact, the number one takeaway from this experience is to make sure you have multiple backups in place for any vital data that you don't want to lose.  I maintain 3 separate backups of my crucial data now.  But if important data loss happens to anyone that I know, I will absolutely encourage them to turn to Gillware. They are courteous, understanding, professional, and very open in their communication. And they did a great job recovering my data.
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