The Art of Data Recovery

By: Bill Margeson

You studied fine art, design, advertising, or perhaps you majored in business. Your computer is your productivity tool just as your grandparents regarded a pen and a pad of paper. But when something goes amiss with your "productivity tool", your immediate concern is "Did I lose what I was working on? Can it be recovered?"

Have you ever found yourself in one of these predicaments?

* You were working on the client's ad campaign in your home studio revising creative on your personal Mac when suddenly the power went off. You waited a few moments in the dark. You started feeling stressed, so you lit up a smoke. Then the lights came back on but your computer did not. You lit up another smoke.

* You visited a site the boys at the pub were talking about the night before and downloaded some audio files. Now you can't access your spreadsheets containing this quarter's bookings and projected sales for the next fiscal year. To add insult to injury, you were scheduled to present the forecast to senior management in New York on Monday and had not backed up your system. You don't even have a hardcopy of your number crunching.

* You and your companion laptop had occupied the spare office so you could work in solitude to put the finishing touches on your presentation to be delivered to the new client. Your co-worker then entered the room, slammed the door and bumped the table. You said goodbye to your coffee as well as your speaking notes and presentation. Or did you?

When the unthinkable happens and your data goes missing, it's human nature to panic.

Unless you majored in computer science, you are probably not aware of the inner complexity of a hard disk drive that stores data. You simply regard your files-those customer records, spreadsheets, invoices, presentations, online storyboards, photographs, and more--as your bread and butter, but to a data recovery expert they are "0's" and "1's" organized on your computer's hard disk drive. If your hard drive is defective, the operating system on your computer infected or damaged by a virus, or files are deleted accidentally, access to the data is prevented.

If you take recovery measures into your own hands, care and caution should be exercised or your missing data could result in actual lost data. You could do more harm than good to your computer and data, if you attempt to perform a recovery on your own. It is your choice, but the consequences could result in unforeseen circumstances.

Yes, technology has come along way. However, there are several best practices that you can follow to significantly reduce the probability of losing your data:

* Regularly backup your data and test your backup

* Keep your computer in a dry, controlled environment free from dust and smoke

* Use anti-virus software and update it frequently to scan and screen all incoming data

* Turn off your computer if it or the hard drive makes an unusual noise.

* If you work for a small organization or work from a home office, play it safe. Use power surge protectors in the event your environment experiences a power outage.

* If your organization is large, ensure your backup and redundant storage systems are maintained offsite in a controlled environment

* Do not delay in taking appropriate action, if you cannot access your data. Ask and you shall receive help.

Data recovery is not an area in which computer science majors currently specialize and data loss is one of the computer industry's most misunderstood concepts. That's why it's critical computer users avoid panic and attempts at misguided recovery efforts which can transform missing data into permanent lost data.

If you find yourself in such a predicament, get help.

If you require the assistance of a data recovery expert, don't settle for second best. Sure, data recovery is about retrieving those "0's" and "1's", but most importantly data recovery is about the quality of customer service you receive. From the time you place your panic-stricken telephone call seeking help until you have successfully downloaded your "missing" data, the communication between you and the data recovery firm is the catalyst for a successful data recovery. Deal with a data recovery organization where all employees-from the friendly receptionist who takes your initial call to the lab technician who is responsible for the recovery of your data--are empathetic to your needs. For here lies the true art of data recovery.

Data Recovery
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