My wife mentioned to me a week or so ago that one of her work colleagues had recently had a hard drive crash on her laptop. Having replaced it, she wanted to try to get some of the data back from the disk, because she had a lot of family photos on there which were not backed up (I’m sure this experience has informed her future back-up plans).
However she had taken it to a local store, which I won’t name, who quoted her £600 to recover the photos. £600! They could be excused some element of estimate padding here, since you never know how long these things might take, but £600 really is taking the p*ss. Even if it took them a couple of days constantly sitting at the machine to recover the data, that would be an inflated rate for this kind of work. At the least they could have done a quick initial test and told her how difficult it was likely to be.
I was disgusted when I heard, so I volunteered to take a look at it. It took a while to process everything, but most of that was a machine chugging away in a corner without me having to do anything. I connected the drive up to a Linux machine, so I had the option of using free tools (like PhotoRec and ddrescue) to try to manually scan / repair the disk if it was too badly damaged, but it turned out that wasn’t necessary; even though some of the blocks were certainly damaged, most of the disk was in good enough condition to get the most important data back.
I felt embarrassed that someone in ‘my’ industry tried to take advantage like that, especially of an individual over their precious family photos. Quoting the price of a new laptop to recover some data? Maybe they just didn’t want to do it, so quoted a silly price to get rid of her. Maybe they were paranoid about getting bogged down in a messy data retrieval task, although that could have been mitigated with an hour of staff effort (and a few hours of unattended machine time), which they could have required as a minimum, and should have cost less than a tenth of that price. Or maybe they just didn’t know what they were doing. Worst case scenario would be if they deliberately quoted a stupidly inflated price because they knew the photos were irreplaceable and that she’d pay whatever they asked, but I’d prefer not to believe that.
Shameful, either way.