Nice to meet you,
Data Recovery is a specialist niche, and people are often super curious how I got into this.
Back in 2003, I left IBM in Greenock, Scotland after 4 years. I was a young guy learning the ropes from the best IBM had to offer at that time, Windows NT4 SP5 and Thinkpad laptops were the weapon of choice back then.
Before remote access or fancy flat screen monitors me and my side kick gary, (miss you gary) used to send the IBM customer satisfaction surveys through the roof with our relentless ability to stay on the phone to customers for hours on end to get something fixed. As a result we we got out ass kicked constantly for only taking a few calls a day, when the other, less caring drones were taking between twenty & thirty.. but hanging up after 30 seconds and generally just being rude and unhelpful.
It was pretty cool to be around those guys back then, I met some interesting characters and I do sometimes miss the buzz of place but the corporate monster was not for me, and best kept at arm's length. By then, I felt it was time to do my own thing.
When I left IBM, I was fumbling about in the dark with no job or big blue to fall back on. I wanted to play to my strengths, and as I got a kick from helping people, had good technical ability and was patient, I moved out of my parents and set myself up as a computer guy. I visited offices in the various cars I could get my hands on at that time, fixing computer networks, laptops, setting up e-mail accounts and even building a couple of websites - but getting stuck on those thirty day payment terms was a hard pill to swallow. Money wasn't flowing in my direction, even though I seemed to always be busy. Something wasn't working.
Back then, no-one was really recovering hard drives besides a company in London. That was fine, but the cost was significant at around £1,000 per drive. I wanted to change that and to be the first and only hard drive recovery specialist in Scotland, it seemed like an attractive mountain to climb. At the time I didn't know much about the inner workings of a hard drive, far less how to recover one.
I kept getting up every day, visiting my computer I.T clients to fix what they called 'absolute disasters' - like an e-mail that wouldn't send, or a printer that couldn't print - whilst on the side I was taking apart drives and researching everything I could on these strange objects, not quite realising what would play out further down the line.
I barely had a working car, but threw all the money I had at the time into acquiring some very expensive data recovery equipment from Russia, (call it a leap of faith). This took my ability to a new level, so I gradually began phasing out my IT clients that I had been servicing for the previous few years. I could see that if I just trusted the process, and went all in. I could turn this crazy hard drive data recovery idea into an actual thing. Besides, everyone thought I was nuts and that just made me want it more.
At the time I was asking for hard drives to be dropped off at mailboxes etc on Byres Road in Glasgow, and although it was a bit embarrassing, I kept the setup going. Over the next few years I was camping out in various offices, renting rooms and space until I could eventually afford a place of my own.
My current Lab in Ingram St Glasgow is where it all happens these days. I have everything I need to recover data from all makes and models of hard drives like external, laptop, Mac, Servers and RAIDs - and judging from the reaction I get from people.. im not quitting any time soon.
In 2010, I cranked it up to 20 by acquiring the domain name your reading this on - www.datarecovery.co.uk - One of the highest value domains in the UK.
We launched it from Penpont Dumfries Scotland on a high altitude weather balloon, and it landed in Beith 45 miles away. It was up in the air for around 3 hours and we had to find it using a tracker. I have done 3 launches in total but this one was quite special. We got good exposure on that video and even love from Western Digital. So far it has just under 150,000 views!
You can watch the whole video here.. 🎥
As far as jobs go I have successfully recovered data for all the big boys BBC, BT, Highland Spring, Scottish Power, Ultimo and many small businesses, my biggest to date was a Raid 5 Server data recovery for a company with an £800m revenue, whilst my most bizarre job was a recovery job on an old Macbook for a Shaman in the Amazon jungle…You couldn't even make that up, heres the royal mail tracking from 2015 when i sent the data back to his mail box in Peru.
Here's the deal - the number of people that do real data recovery worldwide is tiny, as no one is willing to invest the crazy amount of time and money to get it right first time. I am blessed to know most of them, and even though we may live in different countries, speaking different languages - we all keep in contact via Skype, sharing information about tricky data recovery jobs and generally just helping each other out.
Like all my self employed brothers and sisters know, it can knock hell out you. But the love I receive from people is why I really do it. Now, some of my closest friends are people that once came to me for data recovery. Check out some of my favourite people here..
Wedding/Comercial photography: https://www.andrewrae.com/
Music Production: http://www.lewisglassaudio.com/
Landscape/Travel Photography: https://www.instagram.com/_danbell/
Data Recovery Cape Town: http://www.southbit.co.za/
As with any industry, you'll always come across false prophets that like to cash in on the misery and misfortune of others. They can be hard to spot at first with their fancy websites and big words - but they usually cave under difficult questioning. Not all data recovery guys were created equal.
So that's pretty much it...you can find me most week days on Ingram St, Glasgow, recovering Scotland's data from hard drives', and trying to sort out the worlds' other problems between 10am and 4pm, Mon-Fri.
If your interested you can keep track of my latest jobs here
Doing the right thing is always the right thing
Thanks for reading
Andy - 16/09/2018