As a final measure, any sensitive customer data slated for destruction ends at the NSA-approved TS-1 Degausser. The device then visits the aptly named PD-1 Physical Drive Destroyer, where a hydraulic wedge ends the life of the device.
If desired, the customer's original failed device is returned, usually with the warranty intact. A copy of the data from the failed device is included, and there are various methods of data delivery. A customer service representative helps customers through the simple final step of data recovery, providing the final piece to the customer support puzzle.
As part of our evaluation of DriveSavers, we toured the facility and spoke in-depth with them about data recovery techniques. We also went through the process of data recovery as a normal customer. Chris Ramseyer, our Senior Storage Editor, had a failed HDD we submitted for data recovery. The difference between the nuts-and-bolts description in this article and the customer service experience are night and day. We detailed the interesting aspects of data recovery, but the customer is never exposed to the backend of data recovery.
We were assisted by friendly and knowledgeable staff to determine the problem, and then delivered a box to ship the drive. After DriveSavers received the drive, they contacted us with a concise and detailed description of the corrective action, and the price for the service. For us, when we visited a few days later, the original drive was returned with its warranty intact, and the recovered data was placed on a USB flash stick. The drive is typically shipped back to the customer. The process was simple and painless.
The technical aspects of data recovery are daunting. Certifications, technical alliances, ingenious engineers, and a passion for reverse engineering are all parts of a very big and complex puzzle. Solving the puzzle is a daily task at DriveSavers, but doing it in a manner that is simple and sympathetic to customers is the real magic trick.
Each data recovery story is unique. If the walls at DriveSavers could speak, they would have unending stories to tell. Some of the stories are funny, like a customer dropping a phone in a bucket of paint. Some are mundane, such as someone trying to recover their lost tax information. Some are sad, such as someone recovering data to help determine the manner of their loved one's passing. Each customer has a story, and the pervasive message during the tour is that they try to deal with each customer on a personal level, and serve the human element as well as the hardware element.
The walls at DriveSavers are lined everywhere with pictures from hundreds of celebrities they have helped over the last 25 years. Will Ferrell, Matthew Perry, Adam Sandler, Conan O'Brien, Faith Hill, Nick Nolte, the list goes on and on. Each picture is signed and has a message of thanks from these celebrities, and the sheer volume of pictures dotting the walls is astounding.
As we left, Chris Bross stopped and pointed out a picture of just a normal kid, missing a tooth, holding a cardboard sign that reads, "Thank You DriveSavers for making my Mommy and Daddy cry happy tears." It really drives home how thankful people are when they get something back they thought they had lost.
Chris turned to us and told us that out of all the pictures in their facility that is his favorite one. I think they have the human element down just as well as the hardware element.
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