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Data Recovery Tips And Tricks
Saturday, October 31, 2009

Data loss is a plague that can hit anyone and anytime, regardless of technical prowess, handling care, operating system or hardware configuration. In many cases, data loss is caused by factors that are out of our reach and unfortunately, in some of these cases data recovery is impossible. A burnt out hard disk is the clearest example that comes to mind. It?s often not your fault that it breaks down and data recovery is impossible. This is a rare case still and most data loss problems can be fixed with the help of data recovery tools, professional software, some technical knowledge and a bit of common sense. Let?s go through a few data recovery tips and tricks that might help you recover those accidentally deleted files and keep you from deleting them again.

Backup, backup and more backup!

Constant and organized backup is the only way you can save some data that would be otherwise impossible to recover, due to a physical problem like the one described above. But backing up data is not as easy as it seems at first glance. First of all, you need to organize a backup system, like copying your essential data from your hard disk to CDs, flash disks, DVDs or another external destination.

One thing that will prove very useful is keeping all your data on a small number of different external destinations. If you burn each document or excel file you create on a different disk as backup and you?ll need it later on, there?s two things that can go wrong: A. You won?t find the specific disk within the sea of disks where you keep your backup and B. The disk may get physically damaged itself after a while. Try keeping everything on a single DVD (you can burn data on a disk and leave it open for future burning), assuming 4.7 GB are enough for what most people consider essential data on their computers. Also make a backup for the backup, just in case something bad happens to it, like a spilt can of coffee on the DVD drawer (way more common than you might think!)

Using data recovery software vs. using the services of a professional data recovery company

The decision is yours to make, but unless you absolutely know what you?re doing and know how to use the data recovery software by yourself, it?s best if you employ a professional company to do it for you. Don?t build a technical ego just because you managed to install Windows by yourself, with data recovery, you?ll be dealing with much more sensitive matters. If you fumble up your Windows installation process, you can simply start over. If you accidentally remove every chance of recovering a bunch of files, there?s no turning back.

Use your operating system?s data recovery options

Both Mac and PC operating systems such as OS/X or Windows have built-in data recovery tools that can be helpful in case of logical or human error-related data loss. Sometimes you?ll find them easier to use than professional data recovery software, mainly because they?re built under the same structure as the operating system, so you?re already familiar with the interface. However, in what regards recovery options and efficiency, you can?t compare the standard operating system tools with a professional data recovery program so if your data loss issue is more complex, you?re probably better off using the latter.

Fraser Wheaton is a data recovery expert and owner of the http://www.RecoverMyFile.net website.

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Posted In Data Recovery. @ 1:17 AM  
How Data Recovery Programs Work
Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Power outages, natural disasters, computer freezes, viruses or simple human errors can all be the cause of one of today?s most common technical ?plagues?: data loss. It?s estimated that millions of users suffer from data loss issues worldwide each year and millions of dollars are lost due to the fact that important documents get deleted. Fortunately for us, data recovery programs become more and more proficient with each passing year and it?s safe to say that unless the data loss occurred due to some extraordinarily severe events such as hard disk burnout, extreme magnetization and so forth, your data can be recovered. It?s just a matter of having the right tools and the right data recovery program(s). But in order to understand how a data recovery program can help us get our stuff back, we first need to take a look at what happens inside our hard disk when a file gets deleted or ?lost?.

Delete a useless file in Windows explorer by using the ?Delete? button on your keyboard or right clicking on it and choosing ?Delete?. If your operating system is set to send deleted files to the recycle bin, your deleted file will be stored there. However, if you have set Windows to skip sending files to the Recycle bin and instead delete them from memory, the file is completely gone right? Wrong! What is gone is your visible link to that file. Consider your hard drive a website with a link on its homepage to the page ?content.html?. When you delete the link on your homepage, you won?t be able to see ?content.html? anymore, but that doesn?t mean it?s gone from the server. It?s still there; you just can?t see it from the interface provided by the website.

Another analogy can be made to a book. Each file is a unique page and when you delete a file, it won?t mean that the page it represents gets torn from the book and thrown away. Instead, that page will simply stop showing up in the Table of Contents.

What a data recovery program does is trace back and try to restore the original ?Table of Contents? of your hard disk?s file structure in order to find those lost pages. The longer the file structure changes, the harder it will be to recover the lost data and after a while, it will be impossible even for the most complex data recovery programs to get back 100% of your lost files. This is due to the fact that your operating system keeps deleted files in a reserved space which has limited memory capacity. When this space fills up, your system will start overwriting those older lost files with newer lost files. Therefore, a file you accidentally deleted yesterday is far easier to recover than a file deleted 5 months ago. Additionally, it will be harder to recover 100% of the older file, because the operating system may have overwritten only specific parts from it, leaving the rest intact.

Of course, each data recovery program works in its own way and has its own methods of accessing those lost files and rebuilding the initial file structure. However, all of them are based on these fundamental principles and understanding these is the most important step in achieving full and efficient data recovery.

Fraser Wheaton is a data recovery expert and owner of the http://www.RecoverMyFile.net website.

We can help get back any file you have deleted or lost.

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Posted In Data Recovery. @ 6:19 AM  
When Data Recovery Becomes Impossible
Tuesday, October 13, 2009

We?ve all been using computers for a while now and I bet none of us have been spared from at least one data loss related problem in our technical ?career?. Data is so easily losable that you?re practically forced to make backups for everything you have, for obvious safety reasons. Data loss can occur due to several reasons, including:

- Physical damage ? when your data storage unit gets physically damaged, data recovery is often difficult. Physical damage can translate into a badly scratched CD or DVD containing essential data, a failing hard disk head or motor and so forth. Physical damage can be avoided, but you can never really protect yourself from it 100%. A hard disk for example, can break down due to aging, constant workload and so forth. CDs and DVDs aren?t fully protected even if you keep them in the cleanest, scratch-free conditions possible.

- Logical damage ? logical data damage takes place at file structure level as opposed to physical level. Logical damage is more common, as it can be caused by numerous additional factors such as power outages, system crashes, driver problems, RAID controller issues and so forth.

- Human error ? human error factors include everything from ?oops, I accidentally pressed delete? to overwriting files, moving them around, formatting over essential files and so forth. Basically, of the three types of data loss causes, human error ones are the easiest to avoid and yet they are the most common, because of the users? low computer skills, impatience or forgetfulness.

Sure, if you?re a simple user that lost some important data, you won?t really be interested in knowing WHY you lost it, but rather if you can get it back. Still, data recovery may often depend on the ?WHY you lost it? factor. And unfortunately, in some rare cases, data recovery becomes impossible and the most common of data loss categories is the physical damage one.

If your hard disk blows up on you, there?s absolutely nothing to be done about it and no specialized data recovery program or data recovery professional will be able to help you out. But not all hardware (physical) problems fall into this category. For example, a hard disk with a failing motor still holds a chance for data recovery, whereas if the section that holds the logical data gets burnt out or magnetized, you most likely have no chance of getting anything back. Some physical problems may be partially fixed, with only a part of the data being recovered. Although this is never a reason to cheer for, you can at least scavenge up some of your lost data.

The easiest type of data loss to recover is, fortunately, the one falling under the human error category (fortunately ? because this is also the most common). When you delete a file from your operating system, it won?t show up in the file structure anymore, but that doesn?t mean it?s gone forever. What the operating system does, is store away that file on a specific sector of your hard disk, where it is held for sake keeping. The only way you can truly delete these files is by overwriting that sector with new data, over and over again. That?s why time is an important factor when it comes to data recovery. If you deleted a file yesterday for example, chances are that your system didn?t overwrite it with anything else in that ?safe closet? on your hard disk. However, if you deleted it last year and subsequently deleted, overwritten and moved files around your hard disk since then, chances are data recovery becomes impossible.

Fraser Wheaton is a data recovery expert and owner of the http://www.RecoverMyFile.net website.

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Posted In Data Recovery. @ 3:05 AM  
Avoiding Data Recovery On External Hard Disk Drives

According to UniRecovery RAID Data Recovery Labs, External Hard Disk Drives provide great flexible storage option and security by providing a mobile back up option, yet this advantage has dangerous twist to users.

With storage capacity running in hundreds of Gigabites, accompanied by high rates of data transfer, in addition to the flexibility to plug the external drive to a Laptop, Desktop, Server, Memory Cards, Camera or iPod and sold at reasonable prices have increased their popularity dramatically.

However, as the popularity of the external drives containing backups and valuable data are increasingly failing for no apparent reasons. Majority of these failing drives are often of well known commercial brands such as Lacie, Freecom and Omega and with the latest high capacity Maxtor, Seagate or Western Digital hard disk drives models with storage capacity exceeding 320Gb or even 400Gb on a single drive.

According to a study of 100,000 drives conducted by Carnegie Mellon University, it is widely believed Hard Disk Drive vendors manipulate the (MTTF) - mean time to failure. In fact The mean time to failure (MTTF) of drives, according to their manufacturers, vary from 1,000,000 to 1,500,000 hours, suggesting a nominal annual failure rate of at most 0.88%. Whereas the study finds that "up to 13% observed on some systems.". This suggests that field replacement is a fairly different process than one might predict based on datasheet MTTF.

It has also been established that failure rate is not constant with age, and that, rather than a significant infant mortality effect, evidently a significant early onset of wear-out degradation. That is, replacement rates in research data grew constantly with age, an effect often assumed not to set in until after a nominal lifetime of 5 years. The study, also carefully point out that the study didn't necessarily track actual drive failures, but cases in which a customer decided a drive had failed and needed replacement. The study also explains that no vendor-specific failure information, and that his goal is not "choosing the best and the worst vendors" but to help them to improve drive design and testing. Also, little difference in replacement rates between SCSI, FC and SATA drives, potentially an indication that disk-independent factors, such as operating conditions, affect replacement rates more than component specific factors. On the other hand, we see only one instance of a customer rejecting an entire population of disks as a bad batch, in this case because of media error rates, and this instance involved SATA hard disks

Time between replacements, a proxy for time between failure, is not well modelled by an exponential distribution and exhibits significant levels of correlation, including autocorrelation and long-range dependence.

Generally, inside the slick casings, often are poorly ventilated or even not ventilated at all, external hard drives assemblers include the cheapest available drives such as Maxtor & Seagate, combined with badly ventilated enclosure casing, the combination is catastrophic for any given user, especially when the hard disk drive is of high capacity containing crucial back-up data For any given Lacie with multiple drives, this can be a terrible experience with RAID drives and data in excess of 1 terabite. Often with RAID array external drives, the drive failure are more frequent and the damage is more extensive than single drives. According to Haj Majed Aziz of UniRecovery ? RAID Data Recovery Labs ?many of the 1 terabyte LaCie external drives contain 250Gb Maxtor IDE in RAID array, inside badly ventilated enclosures, when used on regular basis, especially within office environment, they are utter disaster.?

Hitachi has unveiled a drive which has reached the new heights of one terabyte (TB). Its drive looks like any other, but uses perpendicular magnetic recording to make space for all that data. The current technology generation of LRT-Longitudinal Recording Technology, which records the bits laying horizontally, has been superseded by the recording of the bits standing vertically. However the cost is in the region of $18,000 !

UniRecovery- http://www.unirecovery.co.uk/apple-mac.php Apple MAC data recovery Laboratory

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Posted In Data Recovery. @ 2:59 AM  
Backup your Data - For Disaster Recovery and Litigation
Monday, October 5, 2009

As the field of Computer Forensics and E-Discovery becomes more mainstream in litigation, companies may now find that they need to take a closer look their disaster recovery plan for both data loss and litigation.

With the new rules in the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure with regards to E-Discovery, back-up tapes are not only important to the IT Department should a server fail, but are now critical when a company finds itself in the midsts of litigation. Some examples of different types of information which could be required through litigation include:

  • NIDA (Non Invasive Data Acquisition)
  • Accounting Information
  • Corporate E-mail
  • Intellectual Property Disputes
  • Insurance Fraud Cases
  • Corporate Investigations
  • Corporate Counsel Support
  • Electronic Records Management
In a recent case, AAB Joint Venture v. United States, 2007 WL 646157 (Fed. Cl. Feb. 28, 2007), the court heard an argument regarding the a period of time (data) for which that data was not available. The defendant claimed that it had provided all e-mails related to the case. However, the court was not persuaded by defendant?s arguments, and agreed that defendant?s overall production of emails had been far from adequate. The court also said that, while cost was an issue for the court to consider in addressing a motion to compel, it was not the only consideration. The court continued with the following statement:

Here, because the Court finds that defendant had a duty to preserve evidence, as set forth below, the Court cannot relieve Defendant of its duty to produce those documents merely because Defendant has chosen a means to preserve the evidence which makes ultimate production of relevant documents expensive. Accordingly, the Court concludes that Defendant has not adequately responded to Plaintiff's requests for production of electronic documents and that supplementation of its response to Plaintiff's requests is necessary.

IT departments should verify backups are able to be restored and the data is intact. Not many IT departments routinely check the back-up server's error logs to discover potential problems. Only when a disaster occurs do they realized that the scheduled backups have not been collecting all of the data.

From an IT point of view, this is one of the worst case scenarios they deal with on a daily basis. From a legal point of view, those backup tapes...or lack thereof...are just as damaging. Those tapes represent a snapshot in time for that company which can either help or hurt their litigation.

Jason Perry

ADR Data Recovery is available to evaluate the damage and potentially recover your lost data. For more information on ADR Data Recovery's Computer Forensics service, visit http://www.computerforensicsassociates.com

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Posted In Data Recovery. @ 4:06 AM  
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