Your PC’s hard drive first started to make strange, whizzing and whirring noises, and then finally, when you tried one last time to start your PC, it happened. The hard drive crashed. Or perhaps you attempted to reformat or partition your hard drive and discovered that you wiped out some very important files. Or maybe you just deleted those files by mistake. Unfortunately, you didn’t back up your files on a regular basis. What can you do? Is there any way to get those files back?
Enter data recovery…
Data recovery is the process of retrieving or extracting data from a storage device (such as your hard drive) that cannot be retrieved by normal means. Depending on the type of event that caused the files to disappear – a physical storage problem, a logical storage problem, or both – there are various ways in which one can go about resurrecting files that were thought to be gone forever. A hard drive crash, where the hard drive itself mechanically no longer works, is an example of a physical storage data loss. The other preceding examples, as well as file corruption and damage, are examples of logical storage data losses. Data recovery procedures can restore lost or damaged files for both types of data loss in many cases.
Data recovery services
If you are like the average PC user, you may not be comfortable with trying to recover your data on your own. Including the stress caused by losing those precious files, the idea of retrieving the data on your own can be quite intimidating when you do not possess the necessary expertise. Fortunately, there are companies that can help with your data recovery efforts. That’s right -your honeymoon photos and last year’s tax return may not actually be gone for good.
Do I really need to hire a data recovery expert or service provider?
This is an important question to ask yourself since the cost of these services may be prohibitive. Also, the more urgently the data is needed, the more money you can expect to be charged. Depending on the type of data loss or damage event – physical or logical – you might be able to resolve the issue yourself with very little expertise. There are some utilities that come with your PC’s operating system (i.e. chkdsk for Windows, fsck for Linux, and Disk Utility for Mac OS X) that can potentially repair logical data damage and loss. There are also software programs on the market that you can use to recover your data to another storage device even if you cannot run any of the OS’s utilities.
For physical data loss or damage, the solution is not quite as easy to implement. It involves actually handling the hard drive and other components in addition to analyzing the logical structures. In these situations, it is probably best to contact a data recovery service provider or expert. These specialists are highly skilled at diagnosing, recovering, and assisting in the further prevention of data loss or damage.
How is my data recovered from my damaged hard drive?
A data recovery service provider will have its experts first determine what happened to the hard drive in order to define the appropriate recovery process. The diagnosis involves the specialists extracting data from the hard drive in a clean room and at a very low level of data granularity, typically as bits of data. They will use their own software tools or techniques to modify the file system on the hard drive manually in an effort to determine what data can actually be recovered. This process can take one day or even 2-3 days to complete. Once diagnostics have finished, the data recovery service provider can tell you what data can be recovered and provide an estimate of how much it will cost to do so. And similar to having your car repaired, you must give the company approval to begin the data recovery process. Upon the recovery of the lost or damaged files, the specialists can either burn the data to CD-ROM and send it to you or upload it to a server and give you access to download it.
Some things to consider when selecting a data recovery service provider
The most important thing to remember is that it is possible that your data cannot be recovered, even by data recovery service experts. They may be able to recover some but not all of your data, or maybe none if the hard drive is physically and mechanically damaged beyond repair. However, data recovery service providers can at least determine this for you, and a professional company will quickly inform you of this and not charge for anything but the diagnosis.
Given this knowledge, you should now see why it is critical to back up any files on your PC that you deem important so you can minimize the chances of ever needing data recovery services. Particularly if you have a small business, it is even more critical to back up EVERYTHING on your PCs and servers. But when you have done all that you can to protect your files and still suffer data damage or loss, be sure to call upon a data recovery services provider. These companies are your best bet to getting back the files and data you can no longer access.