The wide world of data recovery
With a good data recovery plan in place, you can recover from a data disaster with your files and folders intact and recreated. Without a data recovery plan, you have the potential to lose weeks or even years of data in one fell swoop. There’s no all-in-one solution for data recovery.
The best solution takes several different data curation and gathering methods into account, using data recovery software, backup software and even hardware repair—should it be required. Take a little time to prepare your plan now so you don’t have to worry about losing your data if the worst happens. Don’t try to make decisions about what to do—and what’s gone wrong—when your hard drive has crashed and you’re worried and emotional.
Understanding Your Data Options
Backup software ensures day-to-day data security by backing up or copying your data to external media, such as an external hard drive, a flash drive or even a CD. There are also Internet-based backup options, such as Dropbox or Carbonite, where data is backed up onto a remote server. Ideally, you already backup data regularly. If you don’t, purchase an external hard drive large enough for your data and use backup software to transfer data to safe storage. If you regularly back up data, you can reload the data onto your machine in case of data loss. Daily or weekly backups ensure minimal to no data loss, allowing you to recover. However, backup up at irregular intervals leaves you vulnerable to data loss.
When you’ve accidentally deleted important data and you cannot find it in your computer’s trash, you may be able to recover the file using data recovery software. Your computer does not immediately delete data even when you trash it; however, the path to this data is no longer valid and the data file is likely fragmented across the hard drive. Data recovery software searches your computer for parts of files, then pieces the files back together until the data is readable or viewable as a whole. Data recovery software supports a wide array of file types, so choose one that targets the file types you need and offers support for video or audio if that’s a concern.
Not all data files can be recovered using software, however. Extremely large files, such as database files or dissertation-length word processing documents, can be tricky to recover since there are so many small parts. Also, if the files have been overwritten, then it will be nearly impossible to recover all of the missing data. If you ever accidentally delete a file, immediately stop using your computer and take it to someone who can recover your files for you.
Hardware repair may help a damaged hard drive recover enough to be functional. Hard drives are extremely fragile and aren’t built to last forever. If you hear noises such as clicking or whirring, or if the hard drive appears to boot up but your device does not start, you have a hard drive problem. The best option is to take the computer to a data recovery specialist, who can diagnose and repair the computer. In some cases, a data recovery specialist may be able to mount the drive one last time, for a data dump that gleans all of your data from the damaged drive. Hardware repair is not guaranteed to work.
You can prepare for a data disaster beforehand by identifying a data recovery specialist near you and purchasing backup software. Ask yourself how much that data is worth to you, then make sure you have the means on hand to protect it.
This is a guest post by Lindsey Harper Mac who is a professional writer living in the Indianapolis area. She specializes in writing about business and technology. Currently, Lindsey is completing work on her master’s degree. You can follow her on Twitter @HarperMac11.