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What is Data Recovery? Simon Steggles, Director of Disklabs

click to see Disklabs company profile
Editor's intro:- The first time you try any new technology service it can be a bit daunting...

...Who do you choose? What if it goes wrong? The pressure really turns up when you are in the situation of having lost your data due to a backup failure, hardware fault, operator error or physical disaster. That's usually the first time you look at the data recovery market. and it's when you're in a high state of anxiety and can't take the risk of anything else going wrong. This article is a simple guide to how the data recovery industry works and how it can help you in this frightening situation.
Data Recovery
Data Recovery Services on
When Megabyte's storage got broken,
he knew how to fix it as good as new.
author Simon Steggles
About the author:- Simon Steggles is a director
of Disklabs Data Recovery and Computer
Forensics Services
, and 1st Computer Traders.

Simon was a member of the British Royal Navy
where he worked in Communications and
Intelligence, leaving to take up a career in IT.
Simon specialised in storage, and now runs

Simon enjoys his family, wine, good food, travel,
and computing.
Are MLC SSDs Ever Safe in Enterprise Apps?
This is a follow up article to the popular SSD Myths and Legends which, in early 2007, demolished the myth that flash memory wear-out (a comfort blanket beloved by many RAM SSD makers) precluded the use of flash in heavy duty datacenters.

This new article, published in Feb 2008, looks at the risks posed by MLC Nand Flash SSDs which have recently hatched from their breeeding ground as chip modules in cellphones and morphed into hard disk form factors.
which technology to choose? - read the article It starts down a familiar lane but an unexpected technology twist (which arrived in my email this morning) takes you to a startling new world of possibilities. the article
What is Data Recovery?

Data Recovery is the process of retrieval of inaccessible or corrupt data from digital media that has become damaged or has been corrupted in some way. Data Recovery can be used to recover data from devices as varied as Hard Disk Drives, Memory Cards, Tapes, Mobile Phones, Personal Digital Assistants, Floppy Disks, CDs, DVDs, Data Cartridges, Xboxes and many more items.

Data Recovery may be needed for reasons which could include issues as diverse as hardware failure, (the tape has been 'chewed' up, the hard disk drive has failed, it could have suffered fire or flood damage, or logical failure, there can be corruptions in firmware, semiconductor failure, or accidental failure/deletion, a storage device could have been dropped, a hard disk drive may have been 'accidentally' formatted). All of these instances will require the services of a professional data recovery company if the data was of such value (be it sentimental or financial) that the cost of the services are less than the perceived value of the data which is no longer accessible.
It is not just businesses who are at risk from data loss. Clients requiring data recovery come from all walks of life, including governments, large corporates, smaller businesses, and the self employed to "Joe Public" who, with the introduction and subsequent boom in the use of PC's and digital cameras etc to record special occasions, holiday videos and photos etc may have lost anything from sentimental data to critical emails, and personal account details. Students are often grouped under this heading too.

There are numerous ways that data can be recovered from digital media which can vary greatly, the simplest method can involve the running of basic software on the storage medium in question. This is always a dangerous idea, because the recovery data could overwrite the very data that is being recovered. More complex commercial software tools are available which will do this job more professionally. No software fix should be attempted prior to the original media being imaged, enabling the recovering company to work on a 'back-up' of the original software. The most professional companies will also take a second image should there be a problem with the first image that is being worked on for recovery.

The next problem is what happens when the hard disk or storage device doesn't work. For the smaller 'Data Recovery Companies', this is a problem, and it is when the more serious Data Recovery Companies get involved, (such as my company Disklabs), who specialise in higher end Data Retrievals. It is always recommended that the most critical work should be sent to a true data recovery specialist, (check out the accreditations - ensure the specialist has ISO9001-2000 Quality Assurance status, and is certified to ISO BE EN 14644 to ensure that their clean facility is at the correct level for intrusive data recovery work, find out how long that company has been trading, and check their testimonials).

Once you have found the company that you are happy with, if the data storage device doesn't work, there is a high likelihood that the digital media will require spare parts. There are specialist organisations which sell spare parts for old and hard to get hold of disk drives to Data Recovery Companies enabling them to get the original data accessible for long enough to image the data onto a stable storage device, enabling that data to be duplicated again which in turn allows a safe recovery attempt to be achieved.
The data recovery job is generally finished when a list of all the recovered files is sent to the client. Once the client approves this file listing, they are then shipped the data on an appropriate media. This can be a hard disk drive, floppy disk, CD or DVD. Alternatively, if a file is considered critical, it can be encrypted and then emailed to the client.

It should be noted that in extreme cases it may be impossible to recover any data.

The best advice we can offer the client is this:

"As soon as you have lost data you should power off your device and send it to a professional Data Recovery Company to optimise your chances of a successful recovery". ...Disklabs profile, Data Recovery, backup software

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