Data RecoveryIf your reading this post then you are most likely where I was 9 years ago.  You’re an experienced IT pro who can fix just about any computer related issue.  And you’re probably thinking – “how hard can fixing a hard drive be?”.

The answer – Much harder than you think!  When I first decided to venture into the realm of data recovery I figured that it would mostly be just swapping out a few parts inside, swapping platters from one drive to another, and making money.  Boy was I wrong.

Data recovery has a virtually endless supply of nearly impossible challenges to face.  Nine years in this business has taught me just how little I know about it.  No matter how many issues you’ve diagnosed, there is always a drive showing up that has failed in a new and unexpected way.  Just today I got in a drive that had a magnet which broke in half and jammed the spindle.  I didn’t even know that was possible, but fortunately should be an easy fix.

Data Recovery Business Challenges

For me the hardest thing in this business is….Failure.  When fixing a computer you never have to admit defeat, you can always just keep changing parts until you get it working again.  Data recovery is different, sometimes no matter how good you are at your job, the task is impossible.  And you get the be the angel of death calling to tell you customer that years of their pictures are simply gone.  My first year in business i wasted thousands of dollars buying donor after donor hard drive to attempt multiple head swaps on drives that I should have known were hopeless, but I just wasn’t ready to give up.  I had to learn the hard way to give up and admit defeat.

Another issue is start-up cost.  It takes a lot of money to start a data recovery business.  Don’t be fooled by false advertising that might lead you to believe that one tool can fix all and you can start a DR business.  No tool works on all situations.  In fact I haven’t even found one that works on half.  You will need a combination of tools (and training on how to use them) to be able to offer a viable solution to your customers.  I’m at the point now where I’ve invested ~ $65,000 in tools and can handle almost any case.  That said, I’ve still got about another $25,000 in tools on my want list to streamline the process and improve my efficiency.

A third issue is marketing.  Despite the fact that DR is in demand more than ever, there is also fierce competition for customers.  Even if you just plan to offer service to local customers you’ll be faced with the powerful web presence of big companies like Kroll and DriveSavers.  Big companies like them can afford to spend thousands on adverting in every state nationwide.  You’ll need a good SEO team to beat them even for local results.  For me I’ve found that direct marketing through local PC repair shops is a great way to drum up work without breaking the bank.

If you are planning to start one you will need the following:

  • $30,000-$60,000
  • A professional office (not your basement at home)
  • Good SEO skills or advertising budget
  • Years of training (or someone experienced willing to assist)
  • Patience….lots….. and lots….. of patience
  • Ability to give up and admit defeat (hardest of all for me)

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