Can you recommend Data Retrieval Companies for fire-damaged hard drives?

Leo, I know how much you talk about 3-“place” backup, and to my sadness, I’ve only talked one friend of mine into Carbonite plus local backup. Recently a friend’s home burned and she didn’t have backup off-site. The External hard drive she had with many things on it was found and physically recovered, (I’ve not seen it yet to know condition) but I’ve told her, even though I always preach about “shopping locally” NOT to take it to a local computer shop, but to contact insurance to see if data retrieval is part of her policy, and…if so, to try to get the drive from inside the tower computer as well and have both of them professionally looked-at, because IF they run at all, it may be a one-shot deal. Are there companies that consumers can afford you’d recommend? Going forward, she’s going to get cloud backup AND…I’ve told her abut LastPass since her book of passwords has now gone up in smoke. She’s grateful for what I told her, and I’m wishing we’d talked about it earlier. Makes me sad I haven’t spread the word as much as I should-have. Any recommendations appreciated. We know the process is not inexpensive.

West Central Michigan

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Leo has talked about this many, many times on the Tech Guy - when people call in for different problems. It is expensive. Very expensive. But, I found a few old calls that reference drive issues here:

He mentioned “Drive Savers” each time. Their site is here:


Thank you! I don’t get to catch all the shows. Busy business owner, trying to help a friend, and I sure appreciate the links! Will give them a look-see.

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The odds of a successful recovery depend highly on the extent of the damage to the drive. Fire damage can totally ruin the odds, depending on the drive. In the ideal scenario, the insides of the drive (the mechanical substrate the actual magnetic recording is written onto) is still completely undamaged. In that case, the recovery company will extract the platter assembly and put it into another drive (another exactly matching model of the one that was damaged.) As you can imagine, if the platters are damaged or warped, this approach is not likely to work, and then it gets more forensic (assuming a recovery is even possible.) The cost of these sorts of recoveries are going to be quite significant… like thousands of dollars significant.


Absolutely agree on the associated issues. Just don’t want “the local corner shop” that does computers to be her destination. If there even IS a chance, it may be very small, and any intervention before getting the drive(s) into the hands of professionals may mean the difference between “some” results and none. That’s why the question seemed appropriate here. She’s going to see if their insurance covers any costs like this. I don’t know at this point. It was a farm/business so maybe some “extra” coverage, but time will tell. Thanks for caring enough to respond! Much appreciated.


I’ve sent customers to “Drive Savers” many times. Recovered or Lost, that company treats clients right. They do well for your friend.

This has traditionally been an expensive job as few offer it and they need special equipment and spare drive parts.
However due to the proliferation of external drives and laptops, the HD recovery business has become more competitive, and good companies will often charge nothing for estimates and if they fail to retrieve the data.