Avoid DIY Data Recovery at all Costs!

With the sheer amount of data we interact with and store in this day in age, inevitably some will get lost at some point. This could be family photos, your music collection, financial/company information or your university coursework. Whatever the importance of your data, you should always be careful undertaking DIY data recovery.

One of the oldest technology solutions, that’s been around almost as long as the home computer, is ‘turn it off and on again’. While this may work for some issues, if you’re trying to preserve your data, this definitely isn’t a smart thing to do. When your computer is running, it writes data to your hard disk drive or solid state drive constantly; there are driver updates, scans for viruses, and operating system updates. Even if your computer appears to be idle, the chances are, data is being written to the drive. When you lose data, it can still be recovered, as long as the portion of the drive that contained the data isn’t overwritten. Every second your computer or laptop is on, the chance of this happening increases.

The quickest and easiest form of action that many users who have lost data are tempted by is data recovery software. While there are plenty of reputable, often free, data recovery programs out there, you run the risk of making data recovery impossible by someone else. If you run the software on the same system that you’ve lost the data from, and not external storage like a USB flash drive or external hard drive, you are in danger of overwriting additional data onto the drive. This is a very common mistake, and can prevent even a data recovery specialist from retrieving your lost data.

Perhaps even more risky than using DIY data recovery software is trying to carry out physical repairs from your own home. A quick search will bring up dozens of articles and tutorials on how to fix hard drive faults such as head crashes, all without leaving your home. This is an incredibly bad idea for a number of reasons. Firstly, hard drives are sealed, either with air or helium; they are not designed to be opened. When a data recovery engineer opens hard drives, they do so in a clean room lab, wearing face masks, in a contaminant-free environment. Outside of this strict environment, there are dust particles and moisture in the air, a tiny amount of which can cause significant further damage to al already fault hard drive. There is also a myth that erroneously states you can create your own clean room at home – this is not true! While a DIY clean room in a bathroom filled with steam may remove some dust particles from the air, all that moisture is not going to do any good to your hard disk drive. Leave it to the professionals.

A similar myth to the ‘DIY bathroom clean room’ one of the idea that, somehow, you can ensure further data loss from a damaged hard drive by putting it in a freezer. This definitely does not work! Again, like opening your hard drive in a room full of steam, you can damage your drive further by freezing it, as the temperature difference when you take it out will cause condensation to form inside the HDD.

In short, then, you should refrain from most ‘data recovery at home’ solutions, as very often, you will only make the problem worse. The very worst case scenario is that you will permanently lose the data stored within, rendering it impossible for a personal data recovery company to recover or preserve your data.

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