Cashing in on data loss

BY VICTOR ADAR The reality of losing data only begins to sink when your non-water proof smartphone drops in a basin of water. Or, when your laptop falls down and fails to boot up. As always the case, you probably will not be able to keep up especially when you lose the much needed files from, say, that flash drive, memory card, operating system, Servers Network Attached Storage – popular as NAS – and Storage Area Network. If you haven’t lost data, you live in a different world… It is such a demand for data recovery services that precisely caught the eyes of the founders of a five-year-old data recovery company. Since 2012, East Africa Recovery Experts has been perfecting the business of data recovery serving countless individuals, companies, governments and non-governmental organizations, including Dafabet, United Nations Environment Programme, Kenyatta University, Meridian Hotel, County Government of Nakuru and Nairobi’s The All Saints Cathedral. A serious player, the hi-tech firm is spreading its wings currently boasting of divisions, which compliment each other, and seem interconnected. The sister companies comprise of East Africa Digital Marketing, East Africa Business Consultants, and East Africa High Tech Solutions. Patrick Chege who is one of the group’s director says that the tech firm has done so well not only on crashed hard drives and cloud back up solutions, but also gained ground on secure data shredding, computer forensics, laptop and mobile tracking as well as disaster recovery planning of Smartphones, tablets, hard drives and networks. Trained on design in Computer Science, Mr Chege believes that tech start up investing is not about how much capital, but about the need that one is set out to serve – Once you provide the much-needed solution, money starts flowing. “There is a need for data recovery,” he says. “Data loss is affecting the country’s growth. But things are fine as long as Kenyans back up their data. Initially the main focus for us was on marketing. We had to do a lot of marketing, showing why back up is not all for big companies and businesses but also for individuals.” Although they mainly handle data restoration from firmware and physical failures, to software corruption and solid state drive (SSD) technology and encrypted devices, Mr Chege says, cushioning customers from ex-filtration of data and Intellectual Property by offering Information and Technology support and maintenance is also a major priority for them coming against the back drop of mobile phone theft which has become quite widespread, not to mention identity theft in some cases. As an increase in demand for data recovery services continues to grow, he encourages users to invest on latest technology. Citing the current penetration of internet, plus smartphones, he says that all data storage media types including hard drives must be looked at differently. Despite the fact that information which is on external or SD card, and internal phone memory, is recoverable, what individuals should try and do is back-up through their mobile phones, laptops or desktops, if possible. To the techy, most Kenyan government agencies’ technology woes won’t be fixed anytime soon, perhaps, because of failure to follow procedures. On National Youth Service scandal for example, people shared passwords. That’s where the ICT security issue started. Mr Chege was perplexed when more than 100 government websites were attacked some time back simply because systems were not updated. The sting caused by missing files, he says, will no-longer be felt the day that users will seriously start embracing new technology like cloud, for example. Theirs is a firm big on data recovery but on the other hand they go ahead to faithfully provide other services including full computer repair and maintenance services across Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda and South Sudan. In Kenya, the tech player has directly employed 12 permanent staff. “It has grown in a very short while. Our plan is now to see how people can invest in our company. That’s where we are. We did our research, to invest in Uganda, and the feedback from the new market is super. As long as you have strategy and can always manage to get people to manage it is easy to market a company,” says Chege. Amidst the many milestones and opportunities, challenges abound. As soon as they set off on this path, they have run into one stumbling block to another. Rising against the challenges like keeping up with technology and equipment – entry of new phones in the market, and being aware of issues re-emerging like ramsonware – it has meant that the firm turns more creative to get a piece of the pie. “First year we didn’t have so much resources, we bought a number of equipment, spent on marketing, employing more staff… We had to invest in those areas. And perseverance is the trait that drives and motivates us and we have been repeatedly able to recover data even after the others have given it a negative verdict,” says Chege, who adds that they recover from all major hard drives manufactured in the world including Hitachi, IBM, Western Digital, Maxtor, Samsung, HP, Seagate, and Toshiba. Of course, data recovery is quite expensive with an estimated cost usually arrived at based on the size of the hard drive or files to be recovered. If it is below 120GB for example, successful recovery cost should be about Sh4,000. On the other hand, for hard drive of 120GB to 320GB, the cost is about Sh5,500, while for a 500GB to 1TB the cost is about Sh10,000. What it means is that making profits rests on the numbers – where the more people invest in technology, the more the tech firm expects to get more business – threats that emerge are many thus data recovery services truly remains quite beneficial. And the future looks bright. “It is about repetition… ensuring that the people we have worked with before are satisfied to appoint that they can recommend our services to others. So previous business is really working for us. We use Google adverts, and market through successful recoveries,” says Chege.

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