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Data Recovery Tips
Monday, August 20, 2007

If you have ever faced the loss of data, you will know what it’s like to have anxiety over severe trouble with your server, hard disk or RAID health. This is however, a time for some caution in terms of time and money.

Data recovery can sometimes be worked out yourself, with help of software and some simple tips. This is usually the case when the drives are not physically damaged. If they are damaged however, you will need to send the drives to a specialist who will recover the data for you.

Here you need to decide the optimality, as the costs of data recovered needs to be balanced with the cost of data involved. If the lost data is not important, just take a lesson from this failure; replace the faulty drives, and start backing up. There should be adequate drive space and a schedule, so that you regularly create copies of your data.

There is no foolproof method where you will have 100% of your data recovered or will never have a crash. However, as they say, prevention is better than cure. Backing up is the prevention method when it comes to computer data.

Data loss

If you suspect any data corruption, drive corruption, or data loss, the possible symptoms will be:

• Error messages informing you that the device is not recognized.
• Previously accessible data is suddenly nowhere to be seen.
• Scraping or rattling sound in the drives, especially hard disks.
• Hard drive may not spin and may be still.
• Computer or hard drive does not function at all, like no booting is possible.

All of these indicate that the drive is corrupted. 44% of data losses are due to drive malfunction.

Tips on how to recover data

Some quick tips that can get you out of this gruesome situation are:

1. Recovery through software: First try to locate some data recovery software from your technically inclined friends. They may have some disk recovery software that can be used to get your data back.

2. Hardware Crash: If you have detected that your hardware is at fault and has crashed, by no means try the normal shutting down procedures. Just pull out the plug, and do not wait. Never try to save or recover the data at this time, as you may lose the otherwise safe or recoverable data as well.

3. Pinpoint the trouble in the hard disk: If you are not sure of the issue, listen to your hard disk for any scratching or unusual sounds. If this is the case, you will need recovery service; something that will cost you money and will take time also.

4. Determine the health of the drive: If you have determined that the drive is healthy by the above means, you may still be able to recover the data by yourself. Try using the recovery software or using the drives as slaves etc.

5. Slave disks: Try to connect the drive as a slave to another computer. This way you might be able to recover all of the data.

6. Locate the corruption: This can easily be found by booting from the floppy drive, or using the F disk and then viewing the partitioning information.

7. Shop for recovery software: Do an online search for data recovery software and see what software is ranked best, and what suits you. This software will usually not be free, but it may access your data and recover it for you. You can also make enquiries at a PC software store in your area.

8. Server Crash: If you had been working on a server and it has crashed, never try data recovery on the same server.

9. RAID Drive Crash: Replace the RAID data drive that failed, never ever reuse it.

10. RAID Drives: Label the multiple drives in RAID array.

11. Database files: In the case of Microsoft Exchange and SQL data failure, you should never do direct operations. Keep a copy of the database files and then start the work on the copies, not on the main files.

12. Utilities: Do not try to run Volume Defragmenters and Volume Repair Utilities on the suspect drives.

13. Other utilities: Also avoid the use of Volume Repair utilities if there has been power outage, or if your file system looks corrupted. This must be done only by people who are extremely confident and are technically wise.

14. Keep information: Always keep the following information at hand:

- The size of the drive
- Operating system (i.e. Windows 98, Windows XP, etc.)
- Situation of failure (what happened just before the drive stopped working)
- Is the drive recognized by the computer or not

15. Boot drive malfunction: If the drive that has crashed also had the OS on it, things are tricky. In this case, try to get recovery software with boot functions. This way the computer will boot from the software, and then you will be able to see your data files and copy them to safe drives.

16. Avoid physical cleaning of drives: Never attempt shaking, or cleaning the data drive on your own. This may cause more physical harm.

17. Do not remove drive covers: Hard drive covers are best left to specialists. Never try taking them off yourself. This requires special equipment, and is best left to technicians in labs.

18. Dropping the hard disks: The disks should not be dropped to be unstuck. This will not help get the hard disk unstuck, and will just do more damage.

19. Exposure to water: The drive can not be dried by any dryer if it was exposed to water, so do not try that.

20. Scrutinize the workplace: Pay attention to the place where you had kept your computer or notebook, etc. Highly humid, warm places or shaky desks may also cause hardware failure.

21. Firewalls: Viruses run havoc on the drives, sometimes erasing the data. Make sure that you are well protected behind a firewall. If you have not had one until now, get one now. Protect the network as well as your servers.

22. Physically damaged drives: If the drives have been corrupted physically, they must be sent to a Class 100 clean room. This is a place where they can be opened and physically taken care of. While sending the drives to such a facility, take extra care while packaging them. If possible, try to get the original cases for packing.

If you have tried all the normal methods and you still have a problem with your data drives, it's time to hunt for a data recovery company. There are many companies which provide such services, but you will have to be very careful whom to trust. Visit their websites and find out their level of technical expertise.

You can also call their helpline numbers by phone, and find out about their technical experts and the facility where your drive will be worked on. A reliable company will reveal everything, and will be very open to your requests. Usually, a good company can report on their preliminary findings within 24 hours of receiving the drive. They will then wait for your approval, if you will like to get your drive repaired at the estimated cost/time and risk.

Article by Paul MacIver. For more Data Recovery information visit the Data Recovery Guide - You may reprint this article as long as no changes are made, and this resource box is left intact. Read more articles at Info Hub

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Posted In Data Recovery. @ 6:15 AM  
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