Three Common Data Recovery Mistakes

If you want to avoid costly data recovery, we’ve looked at some of the common mistakes.

Prevention is better than cure, and we see so many devices in the data recovery lab that either shouldn’t have gotten to the stage where they needed to be looked at by a professional, or will require significantly more work to get fixed as a result of mistakes taken by their owners. Here are three of the most common mistakes our data recovery team see.

Not having a recent backup
We’ll start with the easiest way to avoid costly data recovery and that’s having a recent and up-to-date backup. Ideally, you want this backup to be disconnected from your main system to prevent it becoming affected by malware such as ransomware, and if you can, stored off-site for added protection against things like floods/fires if the data is particularly precious. With a copy of your data ready to restore, your storage device suffering from a physical or logical fault need not be sent to a data recovery specialist, but simply restored. How regular you back-up your data depends on a number of factors, such as how much data you’re dealing with or whether you’re a home user or business; with the former, it may be the case that you only need to backup specific files or folders. Never leave anything on your main storage device that is priceless, is a general rule of thumb.

Ignoring the warning signs
Knowing the signs of physical failure in common storage devices like hard disk drives (HDDs) and solid-state drives (SSDs) might not be a particular help when it comes to avoiding professional data recovery, but it will make the process a lot simpler, not to mention cheaper; it will also make the chance of a successful data recovery more likely. Physical failure is much easier to spot in mechanical HDDs, and hard drive noises can be a big indicator. Your hard drive should not be making an aggressive noise, other than at start-up as the components whir into action, but rather a gentle humming noise. Anything more than this could be a sign that your hard drive is physically damaged and has suffered from a head crash or motor failure.

If your data is important to you, the suggested course of action is to immediately power down the drive and consult a data recovery specialist. If too much damage is sustained to the magnetic platters, where the data is stored magnetically, then data recovery may be impossible. If your data isn’t particularly important, or there’s one or two small files you haven’t backed up, you can risk transferring them to an external device like a portable hard drive or USB flash drive, but this is risky.

Attempting DIY data recovery at home
Technicians working in a specialist data recovery lab will have the latest tools and facilities at their disposal, as well as knowledge and skills that have been learned over many years. In particular, our data recovery technicians undertake physical work in a class 100 clean room, emulating the conditions in which hard drives are assembled – free from contaminants in the air. At home, the air will be filled with particles of dust and droplets of water, the latter of which can be as if not more damaging. Water and electronics do not mix, and hard drives are no exception to this. A popular data recovery myth is that you can open a hard drive in a bathroom filled with steam and this will remove all the contaminants in the air, effectively creating your own at-home clean room. While there is some truth in this, you run the risk of further damaging your hard drive. And once you have it open, what are you going to do?

Similarly, while data recovery software can work wonders, there are some things to be aware of. Firstly, data recovery software should only be used to undelete files that have been accidentally deleted or corrupted; it will not be able to fix a physical problem. In fact, it was make the problem worse, as your drive will be under a lot of pressure. Second, if you install software after you need it, you run the risk of overwriting the portion of the drive where your data is stored, or if the files are fragmented, then a part of it may be overwritten. That doesn’t mean data recovery software can’t be useful, though – just make sure it’s pre-installed (or can be run from a bootable device) and don’t expect it work miracles and fix any physical faults.

Data Recovery