June 25, 2005
Seagate Technologies' web site now indicates the company offers data recovery services. Further investigation shows the shipping address, the place to send your subject drive for data recovery service, actually belongs to ActionFront Data Recovery. Many may already be aware of this little tidbit, to others it may be a surprise.
When asked about their arrangement Seagate's Mike Hall responded, "The services are in trials with a limited number of customers at this time so, as with any other Seagate beta program, there's little we can share about them other than what appears on our web site." ActionFront's Ron Austin responded with a simple, "No comment". So much for gathering facts.
Hard disk drives wear-out by nature, a percentage fail prematurely, their storage content can be corrupted and often consumers neglect or are unaware of their responsibility to backup the data. Messages posted in forums and other comments I've received suggest that those who experience drive failures, place the blame for failure on the drive manufacturer. Subsequent occurrences almost always result in a "black-ball the brand" attitude by consumers. These people are not happy at the prospect of spending hundreds or thousands of dollars to recover data. It's doubtful that a hard drive manufacturer offering such services will be well received.
Until this recent change hard drive manufacturers have not offered the service, presumably for liability reasons. Hence, the birth of the data recovery service industry. ActionFront is an industry leader that has, over the years, expanded at a fast pace. They are technically capable and have surpassed many competitors. They are also, quite obviously, veracious sales and marketing experts. I've always held the belief that if drive manufacturers offered data recovery services it would kill the independent shops. Kudos to ActionFront for such a prestigious achievement, with one caveat. It's always dangerous for a mouse to sleep with a lion.
Any hard disk drive manufacturer would be more qualified to perform data recovery services than an independent firm. They certainly have the knowledge, equipment and technology necessary. Why would Seagate need, or want, to align themselves with any data recovery service company? Is this arrangement profitable for Seagate? Does Seagate get access to competitive technology with this arrangement? Could this be a prelude to a Seagate buyout of ActionFront? If there is no intent to purchase ActionFront, will this adversely affect Seagate in the long-run? Does ActionFront just have an excellent inside connection with Seagate? If ActionFront does have an excellent inside connection with Seagate, what technologies or information has Seagate provided to ActionFront that other data recovery shops don't have access to? No comments and limited responses do allot to raise questions not to mention suspicion.
Some may feel that this union brings a certain amount of legitimacy to the data recovery service industry. That may be true from one point-of-view. From another point-of-view Seagate stands to lose goodwill if consumers perceive the company as taking advantage of them. There is no foreseeable benefit to the consumer, as there is no apparent motivation for ActionFront to reduce prices or improve service as a result of the alliance. For now there is only one clear winner, and that's ActionFront.
Richard K. Myers