Choosing the right data recovery partner

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Choosing the right data recovery partner

One of the biggest issues facing businesses today is managing the growing size and complexity of data. Most choose to outsource to an IT service provider to lower costs and to get the best professional service – especially to manage a crisis when things go wrong and for disaster recovery planning.  Data loss is a real concern for many businesses and it’s critical that a backup policy is in place to deal with issues. That’s why service providers must know who to turn to when they can’t manage a crisis themselves. Partnering with the right data recovery provider is often the only chance that companies have in getting their data back. It’s also a crucial business proposition to present to potential new clients.

Data loss causes big problems but it’s safe recovery means any service provider that guarantees this service will win over customers keen to safeguard their precious data.

But with so many to choose from it's hard to know which data recovery company to trust as a partner. IT service providers want to be assured that critical issues are always in safe hands. Therefore, the data recovery company must possess the skills and resources that make it possible for round the clock capabilities.

A quick Google search for data recovery experts will uncover the names of numerous companies. Many of these businesses will probably have impressive data recovery websites that look professional and make reassuring promises. However, providers shouldn’t take what they read at face value. Delivering on recovery promises is a difficult process and cannot be guaranteed unless the provider meets very specific criteria.

Indeed, making the right choice requires asking the right questions about the capabilities of a prospective data recovery provider.

Only providers that invest in research and development are in a position to have the skills to recover data from emerging and newer storage media

Of crucial importance is assessing whether the data recovery company can solve a wide variety of data loss emergencies. This is important since prompt intervention following a disaster can often lead to a successful recovery.  At a minimum, it is vital to check whether the provider supports the device and operating system in need of data recovery. If so, can a highly qualified team be ready for action at short notice?

Having accredited engineers performing a recovery is paramount to success, since the growing complexity of storage platforms is increasing the complexity of data recovery when things go wrong. Only providers that invest in research and development are in a position to have the skills to recover data from emerging and newer storage media. Here are some important questions to ask:

  • Can the engineers recover data from all types of storage platforms such as SSDs and virtual environments?
  • Can they recover any type of data and content types, such as files, databases and e-mails?
  • Do they have recognised certification for data security, handling, processes and staffing standards?

Equally important is assessing whether the data recovery company has invested in the right equipment to recover data. Here are some questions to ask:

  • Can the provider retrieve client data from bespoke storage systems?
  • Do they operate within a secure, clean room environment?
  • Do they have available parts to deal with emergency recoveries?

Given the effort required to find a data recover provider it’s no surprise that many businesses turn to computer or storage device manufacturers for help. As creators of the devices, manufacturers are perceived as the best qualified to recover data. However, equipment manufacturers expect businesses to have available backup for critical data and are not geared up to manage complicated recoveries and guarantee success. In reality, complex recoveries always require specialised expertise beyond that particular manufacturer’s system or device.

Finally, ask questions that uncovers the experience of the data provider and proves their success:

  • How long has the provider been in the data recovery business?
  • How many engineers work at the company?  How long have they been there?
  • Does the provider maintain a dedicated research and development team can refresh skills when necessary?
  • How much data has the provider successfully recovered? Are there any case studies to consult?
  • Does the provider have a secure, online portal that enables customers to access recoverable files and track the status and progress of data recoveries?

At a glance it can be hard to separate a reputable, skilled provider from those that can – often inadvertently – further damage data or systems, but asking the right questions will help shed light on the reality of the business – that very few providers have what it takes to get valuable data back safely.


Robert Winter is chief engineer at Kroll Ontrack

Image credit: Thinkstock

This was first published in February 2013

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