Can data recovery be done remotely?

Data loss can happen to anyone and any business at any time. Whether it’s due to accidental deletion, hardware failure, ransomware, or natural disasters, losing access to important data can be catastrophic. When disaster strikes, the ability to quickly recover lost or corrupted files and get back to business as usual is imperative.

Traditionally, data recovery required physically shipping storage devices to a specialized data recovery lab. However, advances in remote data recovery tools and cloud computing now allow data recovery and restoration to be performed remotely in many cases.

What is remote data recovery?

Remote data recovery allows users to regain access to lost data without physically shipping devices to a lab for analysis. Instead, users can upload backup images of failed drives or storage devices to a remote server. Certified data recovery engineers then analyze the data remotely to determine what can be recovered.

Once viable files and folders are identified, the recovered data can be securely transmitted back to the client over the internet. This eliminates the time, cost, and risks associated with shipping drives. It also allows businesses to get back up and running much faster after data loss events.

How does remote recovery work?

Remote data recovery relies on backup images created by the user before data loss occurs. These disk images contain sector-by-sector copies of the drive and preserve its condition at the time of backup. Common forms of backup images used for remote recovery include:

  • Disk clones created with disk imaging software
  • Virtual machine backups like VMDK files
  • Logical backups from file and image-based backup tools

Backup images can be uploaded to a remote recovery provider over any internet connection. Larger backup sets may require shipping a storage device containing the backup data.

Once the backup data is accessible to the remote recovery team, they scan and analyze the image to determine what files can be recovered. Corrupted file systems and directories are rebuilt to extract recoverable files. The intact recovered data set is then securely transmitted back to the client over the internet or shipped on a storage device.

Benefits of remote data recovery

There are several compelling benefits to using a remote data recovery service compared to in-lab recovery:

  • Faster recovery times – No time is wasted packaging, shipping, and waiting for drives to be shipped to a lab. Data analysis and recovery can begin immediately.
  • Lower costs – No shipping, insurance, or packaging costs to send devices to a lab.
  • Scalability – Cloud-based recovery services can analyze and recover data for multiple clients in parallel.
  • Added security – Sensitive data never needs to leave company premises.
  • Virtual recovery – Backup images of virtual environments can be recovered remotely without access to physical servers.
  • Expertise – Certified engineers have experience recovering complex multi-drive and virtualized environments.

For time-sensitive data loss events like ransomware attacks, the speed and simplicity of remote recovery can help businesses restore impacted files much more quickly.

When can remote data recovery be used?

Remote recovery is possible in many scenarios when valid backup images are available. Some examples include:

  • Recovering data after an accidental format or partition loss
  • Data recovery after file deletion or corruption
  • Restoring data lost due to file system errors, crashes, or operating system issues
  • Recovery after ransomware encryption
  • Retrieving data from damaged or failed hard drives and SSDs
  • Virtual machine backup recovery
  • Recovering data after an on-premise hardware failure
  • Restoring cloud-based virtual machine or database backups

As long as the storage device containing the lost data is accurately preserved in a backup image, remote recovery can potentially restore user files, databases, email, pictures, and other critical data affected by data loss.

Requirements for remote data recovery

While remote services make recovery simpler, there are some requirements users need to leverage these capabilities after data loss:

  • Recent backups – Up-to-date backup images are necessary to recover current snapshots of missing data. Old or intermittent backups increase the risk of data loss.
  • Backup completeness – Partials backups may not capture all data needed to fully recover after an outage.
  • Fast and stable internet – Uploading large backup sets requires sufficient bandwidth and reliability.
  • Metadata – Information like block sizes, locations, encryption keys, and file details aids recovery.
  • File systems – Corrupted or unknown file systems complicate remote analysis.
  • Backup credentials – Any passwords or keys needed to access backup images must be provided.

Investing in robust backup and disaster recovery measures improves the chance of successful remote recovery when data loss occurs.

Is remote recovery right for your business?

Deciding if remote recovery is the right fit depends on several factors:

Cause of data loss

Remote recovery is ideal for software-based data loss like accidental deletion, file system corruption, ransomware attacks, and operating system failures. Complete physical damage like platter scratching may require a certified clean room.However, remote recovery can often reconstruct logical data volumes by ignoring damaged areas.

Value of lost data

For mission-critical data where downtime costs are high, remote recovery delivers faster restoration, minimizing negative impacts.

Capacity and connectivity

Uploading terabytes of backup data requires sufficient internet bandwidth and speed. Shipping devices is an option for large backup sets.

Backup mechanisms

The quality, frequency, and retention of backup images determines what can be recovered remotely. Frequent backups across multiple media improves success rates.

Security and privacy

For sensitive data, remote services that do not require shipping devices can enhance security and privacy.


Remote recovery has lower costs overall compared to in-lab services by eliminating shipping and hardware overhead.

Factor When Remote Recovery Works Best
Cause of Data Loss Accidental deletion, corruption, software failures, malware
Value of Data Mission-critical data requiring rapid recovery
Capacity and Connectivity Smaller backup sets or fast internet speeds
Quality of Backups Recent, frequent backups across multiple media
Privacy Needs Recovering sensitive data that should not leave premises
Cost Considerations Budget-conscious recovery needs

This table summarizes scenarios where remote data recovery is likely to provide the most efficient and successful option.

Choosing a remote recovery provider

If remote recovery seems like the right solution for your business, choosing the right provider is critical. Here are some key factors to evaluate:

Recovery experience and expertise

Look for significant experience recovering complex operating systems, databases, virtualized environments, and proprietary software and hardware systems.

Security standards

Leading providers will use encryption during transmission and adhere to secure data handling protocols.

Capability to recover backups

The provider should support all major backup file formats and have experience recovering popular backup software backups.

Customer service reputation

Good providers are responsive, keeping clients updated during the recovery process.

Pricing structure

Cost structures vary. Some charge hourly rates while others have fixed fees based on storage capacity. Understand all charges.


Ask for references from past clients to gauge provider capabilities.

Data privacy standards

Legitimate providers should never sell or expose recovered client data.


Remote data recovery introduces much needed speed, simplicity, security, and lower costs compared to traditional in-lab recovery. For businesses that need to restore lost or corrupted data quickly, it eliminates the delays and risks of shipping devices. But remote services can only succeed with recent and high-quality backup images provided by the client.

Investing in robust data protection and backup improves the chances of recovering critical files after data loss incidents. Combined with expert remote recovery services, companies can mitigate the business disruptions and financial damage caused by data loss, ransomware, hardware failures, and other threats.

Remote data recovery allows businesses to leverage cloud-based services, global expertise, and leading engineering talent. While local in-lab recovery retains an advantage for physical issues like platter damage, the convenience and speed of remote services makes it an indispensable capability for recovering data in today’s digital world.