SQL Databases – Hard drive killers!!

Just happened again today… A client brought us a hard drive for data recovery approximately 2.5 years old, they have been using it in their server to host a SQL database.  The server had been experiencing slower than usual performance in recent weeks and then 2 days ago the drive was not available to the server.

SQL, Structured Query Language, is a database programming language used to manage information in a relational database.  It is a widely used application that manages tens of thousands of websites across the world, customer relationship applications, and many other types of applications.  SQL databases are the underpinning of more applications than you might realize.

Database files are almost always contained in contiguous space on a hard drive, that is to say the entire file is one location.  Just like the carpet in your hallway, the sectors of a hard drive “wear away” in areas of more frequent traffic.  So, if you are constantly reading and writing information to your SQL database (or really, any kind of database) you are wearing down the ability of your hard drive to work in that area.  All this traffic can ultimately cause the hard drive to fail.  damaged platterThe real question is, can we recover your database?  It all depends on the severity of the failure.  If we get the drive before it is too bad we can usually get a good working copy of your database.  But, if the drive is left to run too long, the read/write heads can actually wear a concentric groove into the platter where your database used to live.


As I mentioned, this phenomenon is not limited to just SQL databases.  We just happen to see more drives with SQL databases than any other type of database. But, if you are using any kind of database or an application that uses an underlying database you could be at risk too.


The best way to prevent this type of hard drive failure from happening is to proactively replace your hard drive(s) on a regular basis, especially those containing databases.  If you can’t replace your hard drive proactively, using a database “aware” backup application will at least prevent you from losing too much work.

How much does data recovery cost?

The most frequently asked question we get is “How much will it cost to have my data recovered?”  And then, sometimes, we’ll get the comment, “… but, my computer is not even worth that much!”

The answer to that objection is a great way to evaluate what kind of company you are dealing with.  It is simplistic and rude to point out that the recovery is going to cost more than you probably paid for the computer.  Helping a customer remember that the computer was just the tool they used to create important business files, a place to store irreplaceable pictures of family and friends, and communicate with places across the world is the message that accompanies all of our recovery estimates.

data recovery repair

As in all industries, the cost of any service is dependant on the tools necessary to provide that service and the expertise to use those tools efficiently.  We tailor our recovery pricing to match the set of tools required to overcome the particular type of failure your drive(s) has experienced. No one should have to pay to rebuild the Golden Gate bridge if you can just jump across the stream.  Having a quality set of tools does require a significant investment.  The tool set for data recovery is vast and wide, it has to be to cover the various types of failures hard drives tend to suffer.


So how much does data recovery cost?  It depends on which company you are dealing with: Company A – that has a flat rate $299 recovery, Company B – that has a flat rate $1499 recovery, or Company C – that will take the time to investigate the failure, and give you an honest price that reflects the amount of research, clean room time, and investment Company C will bring to solve your issue.