This page describes the standard repair and data recovery options available for a Windows laptop computer. These estimates are based on the typical expected time and material costs.
These are time consuming processes that would not be economical or affordable at normal consulting rates. So, the estimated costs shown below reflect a discounted hourly rate to incentivize continued use of older computers.
If you want to perform these tasks on your own, the general steps are described below. If you lack the tools, experience, and/or time needed, the costs below are intended to be affordable.
OPTION #1 — Cleanup and File Repair ($100-$120)
If a computer is slow, has blue screen errors, or won’t start for some other reason, it may be possible to use Windows Repair and Recovery Utilities to get it working again.
However, this can be time consuming and most of the time it doesn’t work. So, it can be time and money wasted. If it does seem to work, the computer could have the same problems a few days or weeks later. It’s not a reliable solution. So, while this option could make some files temporarily accessible and avoid the steps outlined above, a long-term solution is recommended for reliable operation.
This option is usually not advisable because it’s money spent on a short-term solution.
OPTION #2 — Basic Data Recovery ($120 to $140)
Laptop computers can present a variety of challenges when it comes to data recovery. This option is to provide people with the most economical means for recovering their files.
- OPEN LAPTOP — The first challenge is opening the computer. Some older computers might have one or two screws that provide easy access to a hard drive. However, most newer laptop computers are very difficult to get into. Special tools are required to carefully pry plastic covers away from the base or keyboard area. If hidden screws are overlooked, plastic covers and other components can be broken in the process. Experience is a helpful guide, but each laptop is unique in terms of screw placement and access, so looking up specific repair guides or videos is essential.
- NOTE: If the computer is going to be discarded after data recovery, and care is not required to avoid scratching or breaking of the case, that can save some time and possibly reduce recovery cost. However, if the owner intends to continue using the computer, and would like to preserve the condition as best possible, then the standard care and time is needed for opening the computer.
- REMOVE DRIVE — Some drives are accessible without much time or difficulty once a laptop computer case is opened. Others require more time and effort.
- EVALUATE DRIVE TYPE — The drive type may influence the complexity of the recovery. For many years, mechanical drives (of about 2-inches by 4-inches in size) have been used in laptop computers. These drives once removed can be placed in a drive dock for reading data, assuming the drive isn’t mechanically failing. More recently, solid state drives are used for laptop storage. These come in different sizes and require docks or adapters suited to their unique connectors. Some laptops have storage chips on the main logic board, and these can’t be removed for easy reading.
- EVALUATE DATA RECOVERY TYPE — The basic recovery process assumes a very common and consistent recovery process where a drive is readable and functioning but the computer can’t be started due to corrupted system files. If the recovery is more complicated, it would cost more money and may require physical drive repair.
- SYSTEM ASSEMBLY — For the basic data recovery, assembly of the computer is not included unless the customer requests it. This is to allow the customer to inspect the old hard drive, and use it externally if desired. If the computer has problems besides the hard drive, and isn’t starting up, has water damage, or has a broken screen, then it’s not worth putting the parts together. Or, if the customer wants to purchase and install a new hard drive on their own, the assembly should wait until the new drive is purchased and installed.
- EXTERNAL ENCLOSURE ($10) — The old drive can be placed in an external drive enclosure if the customer wishes to have access to their old drive. The current reimbursement cost of an enclosure is $10. This will allow the drive to be plugged in and read using a USB cable, assuming the drive is readable.
OPTION #3 — Restore Using Old Hard Drive ($180)
This option includes the steps described in Option #2, and Windows is installed on the old hard drive. The additional $60 is to cover the cost of these additional services.
- DATA CONFIRMATION — The customer is responsible for confining that the essential files, if any, have been recovered from the old drive and are readable. It’s possible to copy or recover files that seem okay, but are corrupted. We do not test the files for readability. Depending on the nature of your drive problems, some files may not be usable, or perhaps 100% of the files will be 100% readable. It depends on the situation. We can place files some files in a cloud drive for you to review. It is important to confirm the data recovery before erasing the drive and installing Windows.
- NOTE: If no data recovery is needed, then it is possible to skip Option #2 and go directly to the system recovery option. The cost for recovery even without data recovery would be $180 since it is a time consuming process.
- SYSTEM RECOVERY — A manufacturer’s system recovery can be performed if the original system drive is working and the system recovery partition is available from the manufacturer. Alternatively, a clean Windows installation can be performed after partitioning and formatting the old drive. In most cases, Windows is activated automatically. However, if Windows is not automatically activated, you would need to purchase a license for the home version ($140) or the pro version ($200).
It is not recommended to use an old drive that has previously had operating problems for the following reasons:
- WEAR — It may be worn out, nearing the end of its usable lifecycle, and may fail again.
- LOST DATA — Once Windows is installed again, your files will be overwritten and will be unrecoverable. If some files were overlooked in the recovery process, they will be lost forever.
- SLOW — Old mechanical hard drives are very slow and result in excessively long recovery process. To keep costs down, Windows updates may be done over several days to avoid having to sit and monitor the progress.
The choice to reuse an old drive only makes sense if a person isn’t very concerned about their data, doesn’t care about speed, and is on a very restricted budget.
OPTION #4 — Restore Using New Solid State Drive ($220)
This option includes the basic data recovery described in Option #2 as well as the system recovery described in Option #3. Instead of using the old mechanical hard drive, a new solid state drive is used for installing Windows 10.
If you previously had an older slower mechanical drive, the new solid state drive and fresh Windows installation should make your computer operate about as fast as a new solid state computer. The additional $80 to $100 is to cover the purchase of the solid state drive.
- DRIVE SPEED — Solid state drives are available in different speeds. A faster solid state drive will cost a little more.
- DRIVE SIZE — A typical solid state drive of 500GB would be
- DRIVE RELIABILITY — A drive rated for many read/write operations is anticipated to have better longevity.
We generally would use a Samsung 500GB drive at a present cost of about $100 to $120 from Amazon. [View Product] We charge the current stock replacement cost, which is $117 as of 24 Oct 2021. These prices tend to fluctuate due to chip shortages and supply chain issues.
Full Windows Setup Process Included
Performing the full Windows setup requires many tasks. A step-by-step guide is offered for anyone who would like to complete the process on their own. [View Guide]
The process can require 1-2 hours of hand-on time and may require 3-4 hours or more to complete. There will be a lot of waiting time and multiple system restarts.
Why is the Solid State Drive Option So Inexpensive?
At a drive cost of about $120, you might wonder how Option #4 can be only $220. That would place the labor cost at $100. We significantly incentivize Option #4 because we want people to choose this option. It’s overall a little more expensive, but a very good value and likely to result in a very satisfied customer experience going forward. Also, the speed of a solid state drive makes all of the work go much faster, so this helps reduce the cost as well.