Don't Fall for These Data Recovery Myths

There’s a wealth of data recovery knowledge out there online, but be warned – not all of it is genuine, and in the case of myths pertaining to data recovery techniques, can ruin the chances of your data ever being recovered. We’ve compiled a list of some of the top data recovery myths.

A RAID with redundancy is as effective as a backup
RAID – or Redundant Array of Independent Disks – allows multiple hard disk drives to operate as a single drive, allowing for faster read/write speeds, more storage, and protection against data loss, depending on the RAID level used. RAID 1, for example, turns two or more hard drives into a higher capacity, faster unit, but there is no redundancy, meaning if one drive fails, your data will need to be recovered by a professional data recovery specialist. Other RAID levels, such as RAID 5, store parity data so that the data on the array can be rebuilt in the event of drive failure. However, RAID is not the same as backup, and doesn’t protect against human error, or incidents which could damage multiple or all of the drives, such as a fire or flood. In short – you always need to keep a backup, whether it’s a physical backup or through a cloud service.

Once data is deleted from the Recycle Bin, it is unrecoverable
When files on a Windows PC are deleted, they go the Recycle Bin, and can be restored at any time to their original location. When the Recycle Bin is emptied, the space occupied by the files is freed up, allowing more data to be written to the drive. But despite what you might imagine, data from an emptied Recycle Bin is still recoverable, although there are a few caveats. Your operating system marks the space where the data was stored as free, ready for new data to be written to it. But what has actually been deleted is something called the master file table reference, which is essentially a pointer to the data, which is stored as binary code in a series of 0s and 1s. As long as the portion of the drive where your required data hasn’t been overwritten, data recovery should still be possible.

Freezing a hard drive can fix physical faults
We wrote an article on the myth that freezing a hard drive can aid data recovery last week, but it’s worth going over this incredibly common misconception again. This trick has some truth in it, and back in the earlier days of hard disk drives, there was a chance it could solve your problem. Older hard drives would sometimes suffer from something called stiction, caused by lack of lubrication, causing the platters to become stuck. Freezing a hard drive by placing it in a bag and then into a freezer would constrict the metal, and free the platters, allowing the drive to then be powered up and the data quickly backed up before the problem arose again. But modern hard drives don’t suffer from stiction, so freezing one is only going to exacerbate the problem.

Data recovery software can solve any problem
There are some great pieces of data recovery software out there – many of them free – but you should exercise caution when using them. If you hard drive has suffered from a physical fault, such as a head crash or spindle motor failure, then running data recovery software is not going to be of any help at all. On the contrary, it will only cause further damage and decrease the likelihood of a successful data recovery by a professional later down the line. But if you’ve lost a partition, or accidentally deleted some files, then data recovery software should definitely be your first port of call. To avoid overwriting any data you want to recover, you should make sure you already have some software installed on your machine and ready to use, or if you haven’t, install it on a bootable disk like a USB flash drive.

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