Ontrack Computer Systems Inc, a Defense Department awardee, offers data recovery services that can recapture data lost due to electromechanical failure or data corruption. The company does 12,000 recoveries yearly on average and has invested 500 person-years in internal tools and in repairing volume descriptor and file allocation tables. Professional data recovery services are still in demand despite advanced backup technology because users are still not backing up their data, particularly in non-networked machines. Ontrack has mobile recovery units for UNIX and Novell networks that are on-call 24 hours a day. In retrieving data on drives, engineers bypass the operating system by making an image of the drive. Recovery work focuses on the image. Ontrack charges from $600 to $2,000 for retrieving up to 1GB of data. For on-site recovery services, the company could charge as much as $30,000.
Stored data gets lost when drive motors break down, electrical circuits fail and viruses corrupt files. But that''s not the worst of it. Laptop computers are run over by cars or fall into hot tubs. Navy personnel accidentally drop notebook computers overboard. "We see it all," said Marshall Warwaruk of Ontrack Computer Systems Inc.
Most people who lose data attempt to retrieve it, and if they can''t, they give up. But a few of them let Ontrack of Eden Prairie, Minn., try its data recovery magic. They get "very panicky, there''s no doubt about that," Warwaruk said. Ontrack''s data recovery services unit specializes in recapturing data from hard drives, backup tapes, networks, floppy diskettes, magneto-optical devices and all types of digital media subjected to electromechanical failure or data corruption.
Despite advances in back-up technology, users aren''t keeping up, Warwaruk said. Many people neglect entirely to back up PCs, laptops and notebooks that are not networked. The price for retrieving up to 1G of data runs $600 to $2,000. On-site recovery for a 20G NetWare or UNIX network can go as high as $30,000.
About 70 percent of Ontrack''s business is in data recovery. The rest comes from sale of software products such as Disk Manager, a hard-disk installation utility; RecoverEase, a Intel UNIX-based network maintenance and recovery utility; and Ontrack Data Recovery for NetWare, a server-based NetWare Loadable Module.