Gillware Data Recovery: Product Overview and Insight

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Gillware gets a lot of business from other drive manufactures and recovery firms due to its well-respected burnishing service. Furthermore, it is particularly skilled in HDDs and RAID systems, as well as all kinds of flash memory drives, including SSDs and memory cards.

Along with Ontrack and DriveSavers, it is one of the top tier vendors for the most serious data loss incidents. As expected at this level, its data recovery is performed in ISO certified workstations. It probably leads the pack in terms of top-of-line HDD recovery due to its burnishing technology, which handles most magnetic media damage. But it doesn’t appear to deal with smart phone data recovery. In short, it’s more for business users rather than home users.

See our top list of Best Data Recovery Services

Gillware Company Description

Gillware has been supplying data recovery services for over 15 years. It has completed over 100,000 in-lab recoveries of failed storage devices. It has over a dozen engineers with over 10,000 hours of experience, as well as five computer scientists on staff. It also provides digital forensics, incident response and risk assessment services. It has a network of over 2,000 active partners in the United States.

Gillware specializes in the handling of damaged HDDs due to embedded particulate. Many modern hard drives have a very small distance (measured in nm) between the read head and the magnetic media. If shards of embedded particulate there are taller than the heads fly, they will damage or destroy those heads. Replacing the failed headstack with a new one in the lab to attempt to recover data would lead to a similar fate. Gillware has developed technology to eliminate those imperfections at a certain height without further damage being done to the media. Most work is sent to the lab for correction. But enterprise RAID and SAN recoveries often utilize its remote data recovery services team.

The Gillware Digital Forensics is headed by a former SANS instructor who trained thousands of digital forensics practitioners all over the world. Its Risk Assessment Division is headed by a former security executive at Trustwave.

What Does Gillware Recover?

Damaged HDDs, flash, RAID.

How is Gillware Implemented?

Burnishing is done in the manufacturing process already, but the burnish heads OEMs use in manufacturing are not robust enough deal with heavy platter damage. When platters have deep scratching and thousands of embedded shards, the burnish heads won’t survive long.

Gillware worked with a burnish head manufacturing company to produce more durable heads for that situation. The burnishing and glide testing process will take a data recovery expert typically four to six hours in order to get the platters optimal. But it depends a lot on the amount of platter damage and the number of platters.

Lab Locations

Madison, Wisconsin, although Gillware has helped customers in over 100 countries.

Core Markets

Most users are from businesses with about 25% from consumers. Health care and financial services are well represented.

“A PC shop and a local data recovery firm diagnosed my HDD as a doorstop after three weeks of attempted recovery. I decided to take one last shot with Gillware Data Recovery and I’m so glad I did. I had severe platter damage so I knew data recovery was going to be expensive, if it even could be done. But after free shipping and a one day evaluation period they were able to give me an upfront cost and let me decide if it was worth it to me (it was) for an attempt at recovering 50% of my critical data. No data, no charge.  Today I received 100% of the data at the cost they quoted me in less than 2 weeks.  Next time I’ll skip the middle man and go to directly to the pros,” said one home office user.

How Much Does Gillware Data Recovery Cost?

Data recovery fees for a hard drive of less than 3 TB in capacity with no platter damage will cost around $1,000. Laptop hard drives can be less expensive. Hard drives with extreme capacity and expensive parts can be a lot more. For drives that other data recovery labs fail to recover due to platter damage, the average fee is $2,500.

Clean room ISO certified workstations
Media HDDs, flash, RAID
Lab location Wisconsin
Core markets Mainly business, but some home users
Pricing $1,000 to $2,500 approx
Key Differentiator Handles the toughest jobs


Drew Robb
Drew Robb
Drew Robb is a contributing writer for Datamation, Enterprise Storage Forum, eSecurity Planet, Channel Insider, and eWeek. He has been reporting on all areas of IT for more than 25 years. He has a degree from the University of Strathclyde UK (USUK), and lives in the Tampa Bay area of Florida.

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