Data's Last Hope - InformationWeek

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Data's Last Hope

Think your data's lost forever? Not so fast. ActionFront's fast and low-cost data-recovery service can come to the rescue.

What happens when a system that wasn't backed up or mirrored crashes, and the data in the system appears lost forever? ActionFront Data Recovery Labs might be able to help: Its team of engineers have spent their careers picking apart file systems in search of information--and its recently introduced data-recovery service, called FreeFix, includes detailed evaluations and basic data recovery at no charge. ActionFront estimates the free service will recover around 10% of all data losses.

The first step ActionFront engineers take is to understand the system's file format. Then, they determine how the data was stored. That information provides the foundation for rebuilding the system.

Not everything can be recovered. Sam Rallis, VP of customer service at ActionFront, tells customers up-front that an average of 30% of any data is lost for good. But ActionFront doesn't charge anyone until data is recovered. "People have a bad taste about such data recovery because previous vendors have given them gibberish," says Rallis.

John Willis, IT manager at Strategic Merchandising Partners, used FreeFix in September to recover data from a crashed PC hard drive. The PC belongs to Cheri Wells, the general manager and co-founder of the Ventura, Calif., merchandising service provider for software and gaming companies. Reconstructing the data from scratch would have cost valuable time. "It [FreeFix] saved a month," says Willis. The service also proved a bargain: The company had originally taken its crashed hard drive to Ontrack Data International Inc., a similar data-recovery services provider, which was going to charge $1,200 to recover the data.

George Bell, manager of technical documentation at Adac Laboratories in Milpitas, Calif.--a Phillips Medical Systems company that makes medical cameras used to diagnose various illnesses--turned to ActionFront's premium data-recovery service when his Mac workstation crashed last summer, seemingly obliterating six months worth of documentation for technical brochures. After a local Macintosh shop and another firm failed to recover the data, Bell did a search on the Web and came across ActionFront. "Two days later, they got at least 95% of the disk recovered, and saved me months of work," says Bell, who was happy to pay $800 for the premium service.

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