Data Recovery World Wide

By: Jamie Wallis
IT Managers all over the world are struggling to manage the tremendous growth of data and protect it. This data comes in all forms, such as: databases, e-mail, stored files etc. These data are stored permanently and archived to meet the regulatory requirements, and for changes in business functions. The developments in information technology help us to store huge quantities of data in magnetic, optical and solid-state storing devices. Data is stored in the most commonly used storage devices, such as: hard disks, micro drives, multiple disks, tape/digital linear tapes, CD/DVDs, portable drives, Magneto Optical storage devices, removable disks, Zip drives, diskettes, compact flash/memory cards, and USB flash drives. In order to store the data in various formats we use certain platforms or computer programmes. Every computer will have an operating system for starting the computer, running the applications and saving them in the storage device. The operating system helps the coordination of all the inputting devices like keyboard and mouse to enter and store the input information. The commonly used operating systems to store data are Windows 95/98/ME, Windows NT/2000/XP, Apple Mac, Novel Netware and UNIX.

Some times the data stored in a computer device is lost either due to ‘Physical Damage’ or ‘Logical Damage’ to the computer. Data recovery is a method of retrieving the lost data due to physical damage to the system or due to the logical damage to the application software. Data recovery also helps to retrieve even deleted information for forensic investigation. Data is stored in the most commonly used storage devices discussed above. Sometimes these storage devices may start malfunctioning or stop functioning completely due to physical damage. Some of the common physical damages are: scuffs in the data CD or DVD discs, head crash or failed motor in hard disks and data tapes. Physical damage may also happen due to external occurrences, such as accidentally dropping of the devices, flood, or fire.

Data lost due to physical damages can be recovered either fully or partially only by experts under ideal conditions.

The exact damage to the storage device is discovered and the extent of the damage is evaluated. The techniques of recovering the data are not the same for all physical damages. It is normally decided after finding out the details about the storage device, storage space, nature of files lost, operating system used and the name of the manufacturing company.

Firstly, the extent of physical damage is assessed using customised special tools. Then the storage device is opened in a special dust free room to prevent further damage. Data stored in magnetic form is analysed in detail using special equipment. Retrievable data is collected from the device in analogue form and later this data is converted into a digital format as readable data and copied in a new device for use. The percentage of data recoverable depends upon the amount of physical damage to the device. Most of these storage devices are not fire and water proof. In case of fire, water should not be used to extinguish the fire. If water is used the data must be recovered before the water dries up and corrodes the metal surfaces. In case of flood the storage device must be continued to be kept in a wet condition without drying for recovery of data.

A hard disk with a high storage capacity is logically partitioned as individual storage units (e.g. C:, D: and E: etc) called ‘drives’ for use by the operating system. This logical partitioning saves the trouble of having a number of hard disks in the same system. Similar partitioning is done on tape storage units or any other storage unit with a different format. Logical damage is a more common problem than a physical damage. In the case of logical damage the storage devices will remain intact and usable but the data stored inside the devices is corrupted or lost. Most of the logical damages are caused by sudden power failures. System crash is another form of logical damage where the operating system may fail to start or malfunction. In either of these situations the data file will not get stored appropriately and left in a conflicting condition. If infected by a virus the self-generated copies of the virus will overwrite the existing programmes and cause system malfunctioning and logical damage. Sometimes data is lost or erased due to formatting the computer partitions.

Unlike physical damage, logical damage comes with an option of self repairing tools. In normal conditions these tools are sufficient to restore work and recover the lost data. When these tools fail to correct the problem professional help should be sought. Initially, a consistency check is done to check the file structure and system information. If there is more damage in the file system the running of a consistency check will fail and crash and may never find the right system file. In another method the consistency check is not done and instead the complete drive is checked for file system structure and limits. Using this technique without disturbing or repairing the file system allows the data to be recovered and stored in a different device. Data recovery is mostly used by big business, covert army activitiesComputer Technology Articles, police authorities and tax authorities. Current trends in data recovery management advises more back up services with improved storage facilities including online storing of data.

Data Recovery
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