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 Post subject: Bought a DeepSpar for my independent IT contracting business
PostPosted: February 9th, 2012, 9:31 
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Joined: February 18th, 2010, 13:40
Posts: 10
Location: Virgin Islands
Hey guys,

Long time reader/admirer, first-time poster. If you've got a sec, I was hoping today to get a little bit of advice from the pros here about a good way to position myself strategically... thank you in advance!

For years, I've been running a quickly-growing computer repair business of my own, with focus on the residential market and some light commercial (probably 70/30). I run into situations relatively often where I have to recover data from failing drives, and sometimes this work is quite time consuming (obviously as you are aware). More recently, I've started getting quite a few data recovery calls (several a month), and while I can often recover their data without the use of a hardware imager, I've run into some really difficult situations recently that changed my mind... I took the plunge and bought a DeepSpar Version 3 (at a discount). My philosophy is that if I'm going to perform a service, I need the best possible tools to do so within reason and my range of utility.

Anyway, long story short, I was hoping to get some advice on how to position myself in the market. I have quite a lot of knowledge of logical data recovery and some decent practical understanding of HDD technology (thanks largely in part to this forum), but I do not plan to ever get into the business of hardware-level repair on drives--not even PCB swaps, as it's just outside of my range of desired services. Of course, I also can't do any firmware repair as I don't own a PC-3000 or similar.

My current strategy is to inform the customer up front of this policy and inquire as to the value of their data. If they aren't keen on paying upwards of $700+ to have it retrieved, I tell them that for $349 flat, I can possibly recover from a mechanically failing drive for them using the equipment I have. They understand the risks. If I can't recover the data after a brief diagnosis, or if it's clearly a hardware or firmware issue with which I can't deal with, I refer them to a higher-level recovery firm. Basically this creates a market segment for me in the lower-end recovery price range for people who just aren't willing to shell out big bucks for a slightly more advanced recovery than most IT shops can handle.

My questions to you guys are:

1) Does my price sound like it's in line with what I should probably charge for use of the DeepSpar + logical data recovery (steps 2 and 3 of the recovery process)?
2) Does this sound like a good strategy?
3) If you were in my shoes, what might you do differently to make this work better?

Thanks very much again for any advice, I really do appreciate it! I feel like with the help of the industry-standard imaging equipment, this should at least give me a leg up over most other IT repair shops that do cheapo software-level recovery. I certainly hope that I am right and that the DeepSpar proves to be worth the purchase price.

-Steve


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 Post subject: Re: Bought a DeepSpar for my independent IT contracting busi
PostPosted: February 10th, 2012, 8:29 
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Joined: January 28th, 2009, 10:54
Posts: 1931
Location: Thessaloniki, Greece
Hello Steve

Starting from the end, the DeepSpar is definitely worth the purchase price; it will make up the money you invested quite quickly, esp. since you don't own a pc3k, the DDI will be your everyday tool. You will never want to work with everything else, ever again.

As to your questions, maybe you should consider outsourcing the difficult jobs to a reputable company. This way you will earn an extra buck and you will gain acknowledgement from your customers by providing a specialized service.

The price of $349 for recovering data from logical cases sounds ok.

Whatever you decide, good luck.

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Northwind Data Recovery - Greece
http://www.northwind.gr


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 Post subject: Re: Bought a DeepSpar for my independent IT contracting busi
PostPosted: February 10th, 2012, 8:50 
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Joined: February 18th, 2010, 13:40
Posts: 10
Location: Virgin Islands
Thanks northwind, that's great to hear. It's a pretty major purchase for a one-man operation and I'm a bit nervous about it, but I am going on faith based on what I've read here and from the documentation. :) It seems like a sort of Media Tools Pro on steroids, and MTL is pretty limited in many regards (as are all software-based imagers) so I think it's going to be a huge step forward.


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 Post subject: Re: Bought a DeepSpar for my independent IT contracting busi
PostPosted: February 10th, 2012, 9:19 
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Joined: February 9th, 2009, 16:13
Posts: 1185
Location: Ontario, Canada
Steve,

The flat rate sounds good, at first, but then you put yourself in a tough spot. There are times when DDI will dig through the bad sectors and help handle the weak heads, but it could take you a week or more to get that mirror. I've got one project that has been running since last summer...trying to get one file clean. So, to give you some room to work with and to differentiate between simple and very tough projects, you might want to give yourself a price range of $150 - $750...or something like that. You don't have to use the full range, but it helps when you need to raise the price because a single project is going to tie up your DDI for a couple of weeks.

Just my two cents worth. You will get you return on investment very fast...if you price yourself right and go get the work.

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Luke
Recovery Force Inc


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 Post subject: Re: Bought a DeepSpar for my independent IT contracting busi
PostPosted: February 10th, 2012, 9:40 
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Joined: February 18th, 2010, 13:40
Posts: 10
Location: Virgin Islands
Thanks for the very helpful advice lcoughey. I didn't anticipate that most images with the DDI would take that long; perhaps I will do just what you've suggested and provide a range of estimated cost for the recovery. After all, I've already got two drives lined up this week waiting to be imaged by the DDI, and I won't even receive it until this afternoon!

I can see why data recovery companies charge so much for their services... it really is an expensive operation, in terms of money, time, and expertise!

Perhaps what I'll do is provide tiers of data recovery cost. Maybe $150 for 1st tier, $349 for 2nd tier, and $699 for 3rd tier (difficult). What'll probably transpire is if I run into a job which looks like it's going to take weeks for the image to complete, I'll simply hand the drive back to the customer and refer them to a higher-level recovery company. It isn't worth tying up my only imager for that long.

Thank you both very much for your advice! This forum is a great resource.


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 Post subject: Re: Bought a DeepSpar for my independent IT contracting busi
PostPosted: February 10th, 2012, 9:54 
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Joined: July 7th, 2010, 4:45
Posts: 891
Location: UK
Dont forget if it ntfs you can image via mft & select only the files you require which will be quicker.
But there are times when you need a complete image & that can take a while esp with 3Tb drives.

Loki


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 Post subject: Re: Bought a DeepSpar for my independent IT contracting busi
PostPosted: February 10th, 2012, 11:30 
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Joined: February 18th, 2010, 13:40
Posts: 10
Location: Virgin Islands
I will most certainly find this feature helpful. I'm also interested in the HFS+ file mask features, but as I understand it, this is only available if you also purchase the network add-on (at first I thought I had the network add-on, but I think it requires a different/separate version of DRE or something).

[disk info deleted]

Unfortunately I am doubtful I'll be able to do much else with this particular drive and will probably outsource its recovery. I will ask the customer their price range and, at worst, isn't this the sort of issue that a 24-hour stay in the refrigerator might be able to help with? The DIY methods sound so inelegant... heh! :D The way I understand it, it probably wouldn't jeopardize further chances of recovery too much even if it was attempted. Someone please correct me if I am mistaken here :)

Thanks guys.


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 Post subject: Re: Bought a DeepSpar for my independent IT contracting busi
PostPosted: February 10th, 2012, 12:00 
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Joined: July 7th, 2010, 4:45
Posts: 891
Location: UK
Hi

A short rap on the side is not professional. Yes it looks like it freed the stiction or un jammed the spindle but you dont know what the condition of the heads were before you powered it up. If a head is damaged or bent or fallen off when you powered up the drive it will cause damage to the platters & loss of customers data. A professional approach would be to diagnose the fault (in your case most likely stiction or jammed spindle) open the drive in a cleanroom enviourment to confirm, fix the issue, replace the heads if required & then double check everythings ok before powering up the drive.

DONT put in a FREEZER & yes it will cause more issues.

Out souce to a pro if this is out of your knowledge & experience. Never experiment with customers drives


Loki


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 Post subject: Re: Bought a DeepSpar for my independent IT contracting busi
PostPosted: February 10th, 2012, 12:07 
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Joined: February 18th, 2010, 13:40
Posts: 10
Location: Virgin Islands
I figured as much. :D

For what it's worth, the customer had admitted to already trying these procedures. My "rap" was a very short strike with a small screwdriver while the drive was powered off, once. It actually worked, but it didn't get me any closer to their data unfortunately.

I won't attempt the freezer trick. Sounds like this will be my next drive to outsource. Thank you all for your advice thus far--it really is valuable and I do truly appreciate it.


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 Post subject: Re: Bought a DeepSpar for my independent IT contracting busi
PostPosted: February 10th, 2012, 12:27 
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Joined: February 9th, 2009, 16:13
Posts: 1185
Location: Ontario, Canada
othersteve wrote:
I will most certainly find this feature helpful. I'm also interested in the HFS+ file mask features, but as I understand it, this is only available if you also purchase the network add-on (at first I thought I had the network add-on, but I think it requires a different/separate version of DRE or something).

The network add-on is a quick firmware update to the DDI box. You can contact Serge about pricing...it is well worth it. But, in the mean time, you can simply take the clone to a system with DRE on it and make the selections there. Once you save our selection, you then reconnect the clone to the DDI box and mirror selected data.
Quote:
disk info deleted

This likely freed up the heads, but might have caused the sliders to tear off the head arms, the surface to get scratched and the project may now be completely unrecoverable. If the client is not willing to spend a few hundred dollars to get their data recovered by a lab who can handle such cases, it might be worth the attempt. But, it has to be made very clear...it is a last ditch effort, with a very low chance of success. There is no turning back after it is done.
Quote:
Unfortunately I am doubtful I'll be able to do much else with this particular drive and will probably outsource its recovery. I will ask the customer their price range and, at worst, isn't this the sort of issue that a 24-hour stay in the refrigerator might be able to help with? The DIY methods sound so inelegant... heh! :D The way I understand it, it probably wouldn't jeopardize further chances of recovery too much even if it was attempted. Someone please correct me if I am mistaken here :)

As I just said, you should have given the lab option first. Now the price is going to be a lot higher and the odds of success are going to be a lot lower.

For the benefit of everyone who might be reading this. Taking unnecessary risks with your client's data without informing them of the risks could result in their seeking legal action against you. Just because you say, "not responsible for data loss" does not mean that you aren't. So, be sure to be clear on all the options for your client and the risks with each of them. Know your limitations and don't be scared to admit them.

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Luke
Recovery Force Inc


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 Post subject: Re: Bought a DeepSpar for my independent IT contracting busi
PostPosted: February 10th, 2012, 12:37 
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Joined: July 7th, 2010, 4:45
Posts: 891
Location: UK
lcoughey wrote:
othersteve wrote:
For the benefit of everyone who might be reading this. Taking unnecessary risks with your client's data without informing them of the risks could result in their seeking legal action against you. Just because you say, "not responsible for data loss" does not mean that you aren't. So, be sure to be clear on all the options for your client and the risks with each of them. Know your limitations and don't be scared to admit them.


Well said :D

I would say you need to have some sort of liable insurance also in case someone does try to sue you even tough they have sent you a faulty device I'm sure someone will try & might even get lucky.

Loki


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 Post subject: Re: Bought a DeepSpar for my independent IT contracting busi
PostPosted: February 10th, 2012, 12:48 
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Joined: February 18th, 2010, 13:40
Posts: 10
Location: Virgin Islands
For what it's worth, we have fully discussed these options already. The customer isn't willing to send it to the lab, so I guess it's DIY or nothing in this case...

Also, my last message is waiting for approval, but I mentioned within that all it took was a light rap with a screwdriver while the drive was powered off. Nothing major at all, hardly anything in fact. I think it was very slightly stuck beforehand.

I will probably just return this one to him and move on to the next.


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 Post subject: Re: Bought a DeepSpar for my independent IT contracting busi
PostPosted: February 13th, 2012, 9:45 
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Joined: January 17th, 2010, 9:48
Posts: 50
Location: Stoke-on-Trent England
Even the Virgin Islands are getting screwed.


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 Post subject: Re: Bought a DeepSpar for my independent IT contracting busi
PostPosted: February 13th, 2012, 16:37 
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Joined: September 5th, 2010, 12:29
Posts: 859
Location: South Africa
I think Luke's comment about having a range in pricing is important for jobs where your only real tool is a DDI. I have 60GB to pull of an 80GB IDE at the moment and it's going to take about 2 weeks on the DDI. Charging the same amount for that kind of job compared to a 1TB which only has a few bads and takes you 24 hours doesn't make business sense. If it's taking up time your DDI your customer should pay accordingly.

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 Post subject: Re: Bought a DeepSpar for my independent IT contracting busi
PostPosted: February 14th, 2012, 18:42 
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Joined: January 23rd, 2010, 16:20
Posts: 238
Build up experience with the DDI, make it your best friend, it will reward you

stay away from the DIY myths and outsource too good guys with the tricky stuff

good luck

andy


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 Post subject: Re: Bought a DeepSpar for my independent IT contracting busi
PostPosted: February 14th, 2012, 19:49 
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Joined: February 18th, 2010, 13:40
Posts: 10
Location: Virgin Islands
I can't tell you guys how much I appreciate the advice... seriously. Don't worry, I will be very careful about how far I take my repairs.

I guess the main thing I need to clarify is at which point attempting an image via the DeepSpar would potentially jeopardize subsequent data recovery efforts in a lab. Is there a rule of thumb to go by? I know people leave drives on these things for months to image, and since that's professionally done I assume it isn't a bad idea as long as the drive continues to read data.


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 Post subject: Re: Bought a DeepSpar for my independent IT contracting busi
PostPosted: February 14th, 2012, 20:11 
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Joined: January 23rd, 2010, 16:20
Posts: 238
You will quickly work out what is doable and what is not. If it sounds like its getting tortured or scraping then pull it off.

If it does ID and all the heads are reading at an ok speed then your good to go.

I always babysit nasty ones just incase they take a funny turn and die.

Get a pile of drives that you have lying about and try imaging backwards etc and get used to the way different drives respond.

Takes a while but it's a good feeling when you get it right

Hope that helps
Andy


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 Post subject: Re: Bought a DeepSpar for my independent IT contracting busi
PostPosted: February 15th, 2012, 2:21 
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Joined: November 29th, 2006, 10:08
Posts: 5316
Location: UK
buster80 wrote:
You will quickly work out what is doable and what is not. If it sounds like its getting tortured or scraping then pull it off.

If it does ID and all the heads are reading at an ok speed then your good to go.

I always babysit nasty ones just incase they take a funny turn and die.

Get a pile of drives that you have lying about and try imaging backwards etc and get used to the way different drives respond.

Takes a while but it's a good feeling when you get it right

Hope that helps
Andy


^^^^^ good advice

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PC Image Data Recovery
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 Post subject: Re: Bought a DeepSpar for my independent IT contracting busi
PostPosted: February 29th, 2012, 0:33 
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Joined: May 27th, 2008, 1:15
Posts: 91
i clone all my drives i have amassed in PC repair just to see where it goes,.....trust me you get really good & learning what a drive starting up sounds like,,,,, hell Ive held Hard Dive in my hands while imaging for hours just to make sure it feels right...(or that 45 Degree Angle is the only what that drive comes up to speed, either way, you do what it takes to get those sectors)


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 Post subject: Re: Bought a DeepSpar for my independent IT contracting busi
PostPosted: February 29th, 2012, 5:43 
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Joined: January 23rd, 2010, 16:20
Posts: 238
DrFaustus wrote:
you do what it takes to get those sectors


:D


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