Data recovery after a RAID failure can be devastating for your business, and navigating the data recovery industry to try and find the best technical solution is often difficult and risky. 

Thankfully there are some excellent RAID array data recovery solutions out there, whether you’re looking for a RAID data recovery software product or a RAID server data recovery service performed by a specialist either remotely or in a lab. 
 

What is RAID data recovery? 

Here we provide more information to help you make informed decisions when attempting to recover your critical files from a RAID server, and can recommend a data recovery expert in your region to assist. 
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What causes RAID data loss? 

Just like data recovery from other types of system, data recovery from RAID can be needed for a number of different reasons, including human error, electromechanical failure and natural disasters. 
 
Unlike other systems, however, RAID arrays generally have a greater degree of redundancy built-in, which reduces the risk of data loss in many, but not all, scenarios. 
 
RAID data loss as a result of human error is usually due to reformatting, reinstalling or overwriting the RAID array incorrectly or by mistake, but sometimes these can be malicious efforts too, and this is very difficult to protect against. 
 
Electromechanical failures in RAID systems are frequently the result of power cycling or loss, an unexpected power surge, or drive failure. Of course, most RAID systems are configured to withstand one drive failing, but if more than one drive goes a data loss will often occur. 
 
This can be the result of not replacing a failed drive quickly enough, the extra stress put on the remaining drives expedites their degradation. Equally, if every drive in the system is from the same batch, when one fails you can expect the others to follow suit relatively soon. 
 
Of course, natural disasters can also result in multiple drives failing at the same time – data centre fires, lightning strike and large-scale flood incidents can all result in significant data loss very quickly. Recovery from these types of situations is very difficult as frequently there is extreme physical damage to contend with as well as significant logical challenges to overcome, assuming that the media can even be accessed / recovered. 
 
It is imperative to act quickly as soon as data loss from a RAID configuration is discovered, bearing the following advice in mind: 
 
Do not run Scandisk or Chkdsk to try to fix issues, these tools are rarely capable of identifying physical damage, and as result will often make matters worse. 
Do not continue to use your system if one or more drives have failed, at best this is loading up the workload of the functioning drives, at worst this can cause considerable data loss. 
Do not reconfigure or rebuild the RAID, or change the order of any of the disks, as any sector damage or corruption will likely cause a failed process and often a significant data loss. 
Do not attempt to dry, clean, or otherwise repair any device after an environmental incident, as this will cause further damage to the hard drive platters or electrical components. 
Do not risk permanent data loss by attempting to undo mistakes or brute force a repair without consulting an expert first. Most reputable data recovery companies offer free consulting at the front end, usually 24/7/365, and you should absolutely take advantage of this as a first step. 

What are the different types of RAID data recovery? 

Whilst the technology in RAID arrays is advanced, with redundancy providing a significant level of protection against data loss, unfortunately, there are still many circumstances where data loss from RAID occurs, as outlined above. 
 
The situation is made worse by the fact that the layers of technology used to protect your data, can also make RAID data recovery significantly more difficult, with custom tools often required to piece together the segments of data that are distributed over several disks or storage devices. This greatly limits your options when selecting a capable RAID data recovery partner
 
That said, there are often solutions available, and if you act quickly there is a very good chance that you will be able to recover some, if not all of your valuable data, irrespective of the RAID level or system type you have. 
 
Professional RAID data recovery is available for all of the following common RAID types and systems, and more: 
RAID type 
RAID 3 
RAID 4 
RAID 1E 
RAID 6 
RAID 5E 
RAID 5EE 
RAID 0+1 
RAID 50 
RAID 51 
Virtual RAID 
And more! 
System type 
Dell PowerEdge 
IBM 
G-RAID 
Synology 
NETGEAR 
QNAP 
Exchange 
SQL server 
SDS 
VMs 
SANs 
Any system type 
Any operating system 
Any file system 
What is common however is the process - it is relatively standard within the industry to offer a free consultation (and with an Engineer rather than a Sales Rep) at the outset, to help establish a safe and logical first step. 
 
This will usually be followed by a more comprehensive look at the system either remotely, in lab, or on the customer site (depending on the situation).  
 
This stage should enough information to be gathered regarding the cause and effect of data loss, the steps needed to attempt data recovery, and importantly a relatively accurate prognosis regarding data recoverability and pricing. 
 
At that time you should be in a position to make a more informed decision about whether or not to proceed. It is worth noting however that data recovery is not an exact science, and some data RAID recovery experts will charge an hourly or daily rate for research and development work, rather than a fixed fee, as it is not always apparent at the outset exactly what needs to be done. 
 
If, based on what you have been presented thus far, you decide to commit to the recovery effort – and you should be under no obligation until this point – then it’s time to get the cost approved and leave the fate of your data in the hands of the experts. 
 
The recovery itself could take anything from a few hours to several weeks (if R&D is required), and sometimes the RAID engineers will even need to consult with the equipment or software manufacturers to custom-develop a tool
 
Frequently a Class 100 (or better) Clean Room will need to be used to overcome any physical damage to your devices, in order that an image of the raw data can be extracted. Thereafter, the software engineers will use tools (some bespoke) to make filesystem repairs and return usable data. 
 
Only you can assess the value of your data, and whether or not it is viable to wait for recovery, so all of this needs to be considered before committing to the data recovery, as once your data recovery service company has begun, you are usually committed to some, if not all, of the agreed fee. 

How much does RAID data recovery cost? 

We’ve already established that there are several stages to the RAID data recovery process, and costs for each stage can vary wildly depending on the cause of the issue and the resources required to recover from a RAID array. 
 
Let’s go back to the stages and look at what is involved, and what you can expect to pay: 
 
Initial consultation. This is usually done by phone and is usually free. This stage involves a discussion with a data recovery engineer about what has happened, what you might have done subsequently, and hopefully a few pointers about what steps you can take next to reduce the risk of RAID data loss and increase the chance of a successful RAID data recovery. This will perhaps be 30 minutes of an engineer’s time. 
 
RAID data recovery evaluation or diagnosis. By now you should have a high-level idea of what went wrong and whether or not a data recovery attempt is feasible, and you can move to a more detailed review of your system. 
 
It is usually necessary for you to send your devices into a data recovery lab, and there would normally be a charge for that, anything between $500 and $2,000 is common depending on how much effort is required to get a meaningful report. In some cases, this would need to be done at your site (perhaps for security reasons), and that would likely incur additional fees of up to $5,000 per day. 
 
RAID data recovery. Once you have understood the evaluation results and are willing to commit to the recovery phase itself, you will usually be required to agree a fee, or a range if necessary, for data recovery. This can sometimes be dependent on the quality of the data recovery, so this needs to be clearly agreed upfront
 
RAID data recovery fees can range between $1,500 and $20,000, so don’t expect this to be a quick, easy, or low-cost endeavour. In certain cases, the cost can run even higher, especially if the work needs to be completed on a 24/7 basis, involves significant R&D effort, or needs to be completed on the customer site. Each of these can easily add 100% to the recovery fee. 
Industry estimates* 
Standard business hours 
24/7 emergency service 
Initial consultation 
Free-$500 
Free-$1,000 
Evaluation / diagnosis 
$500-$2,000 
$1,000-$10,000 
RAID recovery 
$1,500-$20,000 
$5,000-$40,000 
On-site supplement 
$1,000-$2,500 / day 
$2,500-$5,000 / day 
R&D supplement 
$2,500+ 
$5,000+ 
*These can still vary greatly from one provider to another, but be wary of providers charging much less than these averages as that could imply that they are not equipped to perform adequately. Additionally, $1 will often equal €1 or £1 depending on the region. 

Can I use software to recover my RAID files? 

The simple answer to this is yes, sometimes, but always proceed with caution
 
As explained above, the root cause of RAID data loss is rarely simple or obvious, and great care needs to be taken when trying to recover, especially if you are attempting to use a RAID data recovery tool
 
Based on the fact that most reputable data recovery companies offer a free initial consultation after RAID data loss, it makes a lot of sense to call a couple of companies for their free advice before proceeding with a recovery effort. 
 
If, based on your discussions, RAID data recovery software appears to be a viable option, and you are aware of the potential risks (and preferably you are working on a copy of the data), then several recommended software products exist
 
In fact, some of the leading data recovery services companies also sell data recovery software with RAID recovery capabilities, so if you are looking to try to recover your RAID data with software as a first step, but are willing to hand over to a data recovery expert with full lab facilities if that doesn’t work, then selecting a product from one of these companies is a good idea. 
 
Click the link below to see which RAID recovery tool we recommend for you

How do I find a professional RAID data recovery expert? 

As with the data recovery market generally, there are some excellent companies out there with the requisite technical, security and customer service credentials, but also many more without. 
 
Knowing who to entrust your valuable and confidential RAID data recovery to is very difficult without previous experience, and a simple web search will confuse you further. 
 
Despite the claims of exceptional success rates, flawless review site scores and pages of testimonials from international organisations, there are very few data recovery companies that have a good track record in RAID recovery. Selecting the wrong one can lead to permanent data loss
 
It comes down to research, or better still, a testimonial from a trusted source. Many of the claims and credentials that spring to the top of search engine results are falsehoods – after all, the only check the search engines ever makes regarding the companies whose adverts display at the top of the listing is whether or not they have paid their bill! 
 
So you need to dig a little deeper, look at companies who lead the organic search positions as that can sometimes be a measure of competence. 
 
Also, make sure you research the company you intend to send your precious data to independently of the review sites – these reviews are easily manipulated – see what real customers are saying about real interactions with your company of choice. 
 
If you have social networks, especially technical ones, use them. It is very likely that someone in your connections has faced a similar problem before - if they have had success with a data recovery provider, then that is a great starting point. 
 
Especially when it comes to more technically challenging recoveries like RAID, a company that has a good technical relationship or technology exchange with the industry manufacturers is usually a very good sign. Are they partnered with companies selling Dell PowerEdge, HP ProLiant, IBM, Synology or others for their RAID devices? 
 
To compare RAID data recovery companies that DataRecoveryCompared.com can recommend, simply click the button below. 
Ultimately the more research you do, the more questions you ask and the more weight you put on the recommendations of the industry experts, the safer your RAID data recovery decision is going to be. 
 
That doesn’t always equate to a successful recovery, however, as some RAID array damage is too severe even for the best in the industry.  
 
But you can certainly significantly increase your chances of success if you select wisely. 
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“Thank you all so much for recovering my file server, you saved me from having to recreate several pieces of work for my customers! I tried several other options first, with no success." 
 
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