NAND flash recovery, photo recovery pricing explained.

I try to keep pricing as reasonable as I can. This means in some cases I will lose money (because it’s more work than charged for), in other cases I have a relatively easy job and gain some. You may wonder what you pay for and why my prices are relatively moderate compared to other labs. On this page I’ll try to answer these questions.

Photo Data Recovery Service Starting at $50 (ex. VAT)

Recovery type Cost Total (ex VAT)
Base rate (logical recovery, minimal NAND degradation) $50 $50
Repair (broken connector, reflowing, board repair) + $50  $100
Off chip (chips can be de-soldered, supported model) + $100  $200*
Complex (non supported, monolith) To be quoted To be quoted*

* $50 in advance, non refundable attempt fee

Costs involved with NAND flash data recovery

Even before I do any work (labor), consider that to in order to offer a data recovery service you need specialized hardware and software. Hardware represents thousands of Dollars of investment, software often requires annual license fees to be paid. In addition I use proprietary software which costs in development time. To repair USB flash drives I need a microscope, hot air rework station, soldering iron. Before I even make a dime, this first all has to pay for itself. I did not even mention that I am always on the lookout for and buying lots of USB flash drives that I can use for parts to repair drives that are sent to me for recovery.

However when you compare my fees to other data recovery services and labs, you see they are very moderate. This is due to the fact I specialize in, and only offer a data recovery service aimed at small flash based devices. As flash data recovery work does not require lots of space to accommodate for example a cleanroom my overhead costs are very low. In essence, all require is a workbench and equipment for micro soldering, to place some computers on and a bunch of readers and adapters. I do not need and pay for very expensive tools to recover data from hard drives.

Base rate is for logical recovery.

It is less expensive than good file recovery software while at the same time you benefit from my experience, pro grade software, proprietary software and data recovery hardware that allows me to work with even degraded USB flash drives and memory cards and even some times with cards that are not detected. This hardware also prevents patient drive from being written to.

I will also recover fragmented files, either manually (if just a few it’s quicker than running specialized software) or using automatic reconstruction. The latter can take hours or even days. Although this process is largely unattended it is very resource hungry it occupies one PC entirely for the duration of the process. As far as I am aware this service is unique and not offered as standard by other services or labs.

Repair

If the USB flash drive or memory card contains a PCB with soldered on components (connector, controller, NAND chip(s), fuses etc.) there may be the option to repair the device. Repair starts with inspection of the PCB, visual using a microscope, and using a multimeter and USB tester. it is important to be aware of the fact that this repair is a temporary repair: it only has to last long enough for me to image the device.

Once the repair is done, the next step is logical recovery. So repair always implies a fee is required for repair + logical recovery (base rate).

Off chip, chip off..

Off chip or chip off is the process of directly reading NAND chips. If hardware is damaged to a degree where it can not be repaired, or if the controller fails and no donor is available, it is the last remaining option. In short the NAND memory is read directly, bypassing the controller.

As this requires removing the casing from the USB flash drive or memory card and the use of de-soldering equipment, fee for repair is charged. De-soldered chip(s) are read using a special reader and my reader supports most common chips (supported model). By supported model I mean my readers are able to work with the NAND chip and my software is able to emulate a specific controller.

After chips are dumped a file system needs to be reconstructed from the raw dumps. Normally the controller takes care of this, and this includes wear-leveling, error correction and descrambling. Raw dumps in themselves are meaningless binary blobs and software is used to emulate the controller. Once we have a file system, logical recovery extracts individual files.

So chip off implies repair + logical recovery and associated fees.

Seen the amount of work involved I require $50 (attempt fee) to be paid in advance, non refundable. See below for an explanation of attempt fee.

Complex

To solve complex cases I have agreements with the absolute top experts in the flash data recovery industry. These cases are either out-sourced or done remotely (where expert logs in and uses my hardware/software remotely). Whenever possible I do not ship the physical device but try to dump the device and send that instead.

Seen the fact that now two people need to make a profit from one single case, you may expect this balloons the price you pay. This is however not the case! Below is the costs typically for an out-sourced case so you can compare to other services and labs.

Price is typically in the range $350 – $450.

Seen the amount of work involved I require $50 (attempt fee) to be paid in advance, non refundable. See below for an explanation of attempt fee.

Attempt fee

Not all NANDs can be recovered. Many companies try to hide this fact and give the impression that successful recoveries are the norm. But to come to this conclusion one has to actually attempt a full blown recovery. Other services cover the costs for unsuccessful recoveries by ballooning their prices. So in effect successful recoveries pay for the failed ones. IOW, if your data is successfully recovered you are paying for the recovery attempts on other people’s drives that were unsuccessful.

I decided an attempt fee is more fair to my customers and to me (after all I spend time and effort).

Shipping costs

Whenever possible I make recovered files available for you to download. If for whatever reason this is not possible or you really want me to send the files by mail, you pay for shipping costs and the drive.