Data recovery is a complex process that can take anywhere from two to five days, depending on the issue. After a technician has analyzed and diagnosed the problem, they can provide a more accurate estimate of the time needed to recover the data. This is because certain issues can cause large queues on the hard drive, requiring the help of an expert to get the data back. When it comes to solid-state drives, data deletion usually destroys it immediately.
Additionally, fires and demagnetization can permanently damage data. Recovering data from storage media that has suffered physical damage will take longer than usual. For basic data transfers with few or no errors, it's reasonable to wait one to two business days, depending on the number of people in line. In some cases, replacing the heads of the hard drive is necessary to access the data on the plate.
Data recovery experts have successfully recovered data from servers damaged by fire, hard drives that have been submerged in salt water, and USB sticks that have been run over. Reconstructing files from metadata is a laborious process and takes longer if there is more data to recover. Writing the data to any available location and finding it before putting the files back together is a better approach. The process of retrieving files from media with large amounts of data is also difficult as it requires engineers to locate individual data that forms the files in different locations. Other factors such as data deleted from an SSD existing elsewhere on the drive or in the cache may affect recoverability.
Physically damaged hard drives declared unrecoverable by a data recovery company could also be recovered with better equipment.