Data Recovery - What Can and Cannot be Recovered

By: Jamie Wallis

Data recovery has become a simplistic and common process. There are two ways of initiating data recovery:

1.The first method is to do it yourself. You turn on your computer and discover that the photographs you took on your holiday have been lost. It's about time to think logically - either they have been overwritten or there has been surface contamination. In other cases, natural or man-made disasters like floods and fires may destroy important data. If you are an inexperienced computer user, then it is always advisable not to use your limited knowledge and try to reboot your computer to retrieve your data. But, on the other hand if you do boast of considerable computer expertise, you can retrieve your data using any data recovery tool available on your computer desktop. This involves:


  • Install the data recovery tool

  • Disconnect your computer

  • Install a new drive to save the retrieved data

  • Have a licence to run the data recovery tool


2.The second most common method is to call in the data recovery specialists. This is usually the case when you are unsure as to the cause of data loss. Data recovery agencies can recover 90% of your lost data, provided the loss is due to:

  • Accidental deletion of the data

  • Overwriting

  • Disk corruption

  • Reformatted, deleted volume or disk partition containing data

  • Partially damaged disk with bad spots caused by exposure to natural elements such as heat, light, water and dust


Data can be recovered from digital media files, memory sticks, ZIP files, hard drives, floppy diskettes and flashcards. Usually data recovery specialists can retrieve data by using two methods:

1.Physical Data Recovery which means retrieving the raw data from a damaged disk caused by a virus attack, operator system error or a natural disaster such as fire which may lead to surface contamination.

2.Logical Data Retrieval which refers to the rebuilding of lost data files. This type of data recovery becomes necessary when there is disk overwriting, reformatting and virus corruption.

According to data recovery agency, Disklabs, usually photographs and pictures including graphic material can be retrieved using physical data recovery methods. Usually nine out of every 10 photos are recovered in their original format. However, when database files are lost, retrieval is impossible. The experts at Disklabs claim that only 1% of database files are retrievable. In case of total data loss owing to natural disasters of fire and floods, experts recommend the installation of a backup drive away from the place of everyday use. Disklabs further argues that many universities and multinational corporations document vital information reducing sole dependency on digital media.

Other data recovery firms advocate the installation of a data recovery tool called Scavenger version 3. The advantage of using this tool lies in its function to scan an entire hard drive looking for corrupt and defunct volumes, partitions and spots. In this regard this tool is extremely good for novice users as it enables them not to lose new data while scanning the hard drive retrieving lost data. It is better than the computer desktop utility of CHECKDISK. But this data recovery tool cannot retrieve data entangled in the mesh of magnetised layers on the hard drive. Here, it becomes important to be aware of the time frame and cost of retrieving such data. Usually, experts using data recovery tools of Easy Recovery, Data Recovery and Data Advisor, state that it takes more than a working week to retrieve a mere .5% of the actual data. A prime example of data recovery can be seen at company Hewlett Packard which used its own technicians to retrieve a database file of employee records. In contrast, technicians at InfoUSA failed to retrieve vital editing material. In addition, they were unable to stop new data from being lost. As a result, an entire database file was lost.

It is very important to note that full data recovery is not possible. However, more than 95% of raw data can be recovered provided necessary steps to ensure recovery are undertaken in time. It simply does not do to wait for a few days before contacting a data recovery specialist agency. If you can't do it, call them right away.

Data Recovery
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