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Submission + - Secrets of data recovery labs?

rootedgimp writes: I'm sure most of us are familiar with software like PhotoRec in the Testdisk Suite, but what specialty devices and secrets are employed in the top of the line data recovery labs? Do their services truly warrant the normally staggeringly high fees they charge, or is the most elaborate wizardry just the typical 'buy a working drive close enough to the exact model/manufacturing date and swap the platters out' that virtually everyone in IT knows about?

This is apparently the method used by NASA to retrieve the data from the HDD that was recovered from the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster. [Warnings: link goes to a PDF, and apparently NASA used FAT16 and a Seagate]

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