Portrait of a Data Recovery Company: An Interview with David Mohyla, President of DTI Data
For those of you that have been with us for a while, you’ll probably remember that we blogged about data recovery issues we had to deal with on occasion. Fortunately for us, we never ran into a situation where we absolutely had to have some critical data back, so all we ever did was to experiment with certain questionable techniques and software to recover data out of damaged hard drives. Would we apply these techniques to drives containing precious or mission critical data? Certainly not! The only thing to be done in those situations is to send your damaged medias to a professional recovery company. I recently had the good fortune of stumbling upon David Mohyla, a professional who has been working in the data recovery industry for many years. Here is our interview with him:
[GAS]: Hello David, and welcome to [Geeks Are Sexy]. Could you please tell us about DTiData, your position in the company, and finally, its history and mission?
David: Hi Kiltak, DTIdata is a data recovery company that recovers data lost due to physical or mechanical failures. This includes hard drives, R.A.I.D arrays, servers, as well as most other types of storage media. We also provide recovery software for less catastrophic failures such as deleted files or data lost due to format of media. Our networking department provides maintenance and recovery of MS Exchange Server, as well as topology and deployment of most all types of network infrastructures. I am the President of dtidata.com, Inc and I oversee the daily operations of all the divisions of the company.
Dtidata.com, Inc was founded as a company in 1998. However, the core group of technicians here has been working together since 1993 when "Disk Assist", a hard drive handbook of specifications and jumper switch settings was deployed as a digital reference for technicians. Not long after that two of the first data recovery software programs called "Fix for Disks" and "Drive Wizzard MBR" were deployed to recover from FAT 16 and 32 OS Failures. As a natural progression to the data recovery software industry, we tended to the needs of many customers that had suffered more catastrophic physical failures. We have become a trusted source for prompt and affordable data recovery for many large corporations such as Coca Cola, Pitney Bowes, Raymond James as well as home users and small businesses.
Our mission statement is straightforward and quite simple. We provide our customers with prompt, affordable service. In addition, we also want to help educate our customers and keep their data as safe as possible. Data replication and backup policies are extremely important. Of course, the data on the backups needs to be tested for integrity using fire drills. Testing the integrity of backup sources is just as important as backing up the data.
[GAS]: Your site mentions some technology called 'Adaptive Logic' and that you've seen an increase in the number of drives that other companies have attempted to recover. How much of an increase has this been, and how is 'Adaptive Logic' different than other data recovery technologies?
David: Yes, of course. Adaptive Logic is a method of using proprietary tools to recover data from drives which other data recovery companies may have deemed un-recoverable. The technology uses a database of exact drive firmware, which allows us to reference areas, or zones of a hard drive. In addition, we are able to control what head(s) are reading a certain area of the disk. We utilize this technology when there may be extreme damage to the media or platters of a hard drive. This allows us to control what head(s) we want to read and what head(s) we do not want to read. We can also remove zones from the drive as well, thus avoiding the damaged area of the media. Finally, we may need to recalculate certain physical to logical translations to have usable files again.
In this case, obviously we are referring to a situation where there is some damage to the platters. The Read / Write head has caused the damage and also needs to be replaced. Most data recovery companies will try to exchange the Read / Write heads and try to image the drive. However, in a case where there is platter damage the Read / Write heads will go bad quickly. The Read / Write heads are never supposed to touch the platters. The lift necessary to keep the heads above the platters is provided by the velocity of the platter spinning at high RPM. As soon as the Read / Write head floats over the score it will then drop slightly and cause damage to the Read/Write head and more damage to the platters. This is where most data recovery companies give up. Adaptive Logic is our own methodology to overcome such situations. This is but one of many scenarios where an Adaptive Logic technique is applied.
[GAS]: Your site also mentions some training opportunities. What do these courses entail, and how do we sign up?
David: We are currently making our Logical data recovery classes available online. An announcement will be made on our website in the coming month as to exactly when this will be available. Logical data recovery includes recovering data from most all soft or logical data loss scenarios describing different techniques and tools along with explanations of file systems and RAID systems.
[GAS]: What differentiates DTiData from the competition?
David: We provide flat rate pricing, a no data no charge policy and guarantee data. We guarantee the data we recover will be in good working condition.
We do not range quote, we do not confuse consumers with a low bottom end quote and a high-end quote. Most companies in the case of a clicking hard drive will give a quote from $700.00 to $2500.00. Unfortunately, the customer hopes for the best and usually gets charged the worst. Our quotes are flat rate and up front. Our technicians will provide flat rate quotes that will not vary depending upon your situation. You will know before sending your drive to us the cost of our services.
[GAS]: Google results for data recovery keywords are swamped under with listings from fake companies that will try to rip you off at the first opportunity. How can people in need of recovery services make an enlightened decision when deciding where to send their broken drive to?
David: First, we are authorized to open all hard drive media without voiding the warranty. Western Digital provides a list of companies that are authorized to open their products. We are proud to be on this list! All work is done in a bio-metrically secure class 100 clean room in order to ensure our customers’ security.
In addition, we aren’t just amateurs with a website. The internet is an amazing place. It provides entertainment, a wealth of information and many other wonderful things. But make no mistake; the internet also has marketeers in almost every area. Companies that are just out to make a buck without providing any real service. Without a regulator body to police our industry, some bad apples are bound to appear. If you find a company making statements such as, “We recover any hard drive regardless of size for $399.00.", run screaming with your hands in the air. This is impossible, unless you take only the soft or logical crashes and send the actual physically damaged ones out to another company in order to get a mark up or discount from the partner company actually doing the work. The bogus companies routinely call you and say it is the worst crash they have seen; furthermore, it is going to cost much more and take much longer. In some cases, unscrupulous techs attempt to work on drives themselves in their garages, with disastrous results.
Lots of people can make beautiful websites with great content. However, there are very few companies which can recover data consistently from various types of media. Common sense must prevail, if it is too good to be true, it is. Parts fees alone make the low ball recovery schemes not hold water!!!!
[GAS]: While browsing your site, I noticed that dtidata offers a few free recovery utilities. Can you tell our readers about when they should try to recover their files themselves, and when they should hire professionals to do the job.
David: First, if the media is physically damaged; DO NOT RUN ANY UTILITIES! That said, always save your recovered data to a drive other than the one you are recovering from! Otherwise, you will overwrite data that may not have been recovered yet. Finally, never save any new data to the drive where you lost data. Once you have used another drive to save your data, you can then try to run software utilities without worry. If the data is mission critical and you are not sure what you are doing then always consult with a professional.
[GAS]: You also have paying versions of these software. What is the main difference between your free and premium products?
David: Yes, our premium data recovery software provides our customers with tech support with a real live technician to guide our users through their recovery should they need help. In addition, they are our latest releases made to deal with the most common failures reported by our support team.
[GAS]: You sent us a picture autographed by Shaggy thanking you for your excellent service; can you quickly explain to us what happened?
David: Yes, Shaggy’s record label sent a drive in for recovery. They had a lot of music more than 100GB of various genres, from various artists including Shaggy on this media. They had used our services in the past. They had suffered a catastrophic head crash. They made it known that this drive was of great importance. We had all their music back within 48 hours of receiving the drive. I heard Shaggy said, “It wasn't me.” They were impressed and sent the autographed picture of Shaggy to us for a job well done. :-)
David: Yes, if your data is valuable back up early and often. Back up not only to an external drive but also to CD, DVD or some other media not connected to your live data. Always test your back up before restoring to your media.
Finally, if you are in a situation where you are in need of data recovery services, please choose wisely. Cost is always a consideration; however, it should not be the only consideration. You do not have to pay outrageous amounts of money to recover data lost due to hard drive failure. Conversely, it is not wise to choose the cheapest recovery company. Steer clear of upfront fees or any type of charge unless the data is recovered to your satisfaction.
We are always here to help!