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How Long Can I Wait Before Sending a Hard Drive for Data Recovery?

January 15, 2024
the inside of a hard drive

The platters and actuator heads of a hard drive.

If you need data recovery, but you can’t quite afford it, you might consider putting your hard drive (or solid state drive, or other device) into storage until you’re able to get the money together. 

Clients often ask us whether storing a damaged hard drive lowers the chances of a successful recovery. The quick answer: No, under most circumstances.

Under ideal storage conditions, a hard drive can be stored for up to 20 years without losing significant amounts of data due to magnetic field strength deterioration. Of course, “ideal storage conditions” are rare; fluctuating temperatures, excessive humidity, and exposure to strong magnetic fields can cause premature data loss. 

But if you’re only storing your drive for a few months, this isn’t a major concern. The bottom line: waiting until you can afford data recovery services doesn’t necessarily jeopardize the chances of a successful recovery. 

Never operate a hard drive with physical or logical damage. 

If you decide to put off data recovery, keep your storage device powered off. Operating a hard drive can (and will) reduce the chances of success. 

Running your hard drive can lead to immediate issues: 

  • If the drive is mechanically malfunctioning, the physical issues will become worse. Failing read/write heads may come into contact with the user data areas on your drive’s platters, causing permanent data loss.
  • If you’ve lost files due to accidental deletion, file corruption, or malware, operating the drive could overwrite the damaged/lost data. 

Operating a damaged hard drive, whether physically or logically, can lead to irreversible data loss. To maximize the chances of successful recovery, it’s imperative to keep the storage device powered off until you’re able to get a professional media evaluation from a reputable data recovery provider.

Remember, data recovery isn’t always expensive.

It’s true that some data recovery procedures require advanced equipment and expertise. However, not all data recovery services come with a hefty price tag.

Many reputable data recovery companies offer tiered pricing based on the complexity of the recovery process. At, we begin each case with a risk-free evaluation, which includes a no-obligation price quote and turnaround time estimate.

Our services also feature a no data, no charge guarantee: If we’re not able to recover the files you identify as important, you don’t pay for the attempt. 

To learn more, schedule an evaluation online or call 1-800-237-4200 to speak with an expert.