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Data Recovery

Resurrect a crashed hard drive or mangled cell phone with these data recovery strategies.

For some, recovering data from a computer is serious business. © Jupter Images, 2009]
For some, recovering data from a computer is serious business. © Jupter Images, 2009

Full or partial data recovery is often possible when critical information is lost on a personal computer, which is relieving when the computer houses irreplaceable business information or simply contains a hard drive full of family photos. Data recovery methods vary based on the type of device on which the data is stored and the cause of the data loss.

It is possible to retrieve lost data with the help of special software. Hard drives or media with physical damage generally requires the assistance of professionals who recover the data using specialized equipment in a lab environment. Restoration of crushed, water damaged and even fire damaged equipment is sometimes possible. Depending on the severity of the damage, data recovery professionals may use one or more methods to recover lost information.

Deleted Data Recovery

Data accidently deleted through human error, network failure or a virus is recoverable when action is taken quickly and the computer is fully functional. It is important to discontinue using the computer for anything but the data recovery task to limit file changes that are likely to make the data irretrievable.

Data recovery software is used to restore files when data is deleted. Usually software data recovery only works if the files have not been overwritten. This method searches for the hidden files that remain on media such as a hard drive, CD, DVD or a floppy disk that is in good working order.

Corrupted Data Recovery

Much like deleted data recovery, corrupted data caused by a virus or error can be restored using special software. Although professionals usually perform this type of data recovery with computers specifically designed for this purpose, there are consumer software programs available to restore corrupted data on most media. Home versions are capable of restoration when corruption is minor and the data hasn't been completely overwritten. Valuable or severely corrupted data requires professional assistance to maximize the chances of a successful restoration.

Damaged and Broken Hard Drive Recovery

Data recovery on a broken or damaged hard drive should be performed by professionals in a in a controlled and sterile environment. This type of problem can be caused by failed hardware, water, fire or crush damage that results in a disk that's completely inoperable. Hard drives are amazingly sturdy pieces of hardware that include an outer case and internal data platters, sometimes called a disk, where the files reside. The data platters often retain data despite the charred, dented, bent or waterlogged appearance of the case.

The data platter is removed from the case and cleaned of mud, dust, smoke and other damage before specialized tools begin to retrieve the data. Data platters that are broken into pieces, bent or melted are unlikely to be fully recoverable, but portions or fragments of files may be restored. DataRecovery.org warns that successful restoration is often only possible on the first attempt and should only be attempted by a professional.

Broken CD and DVD Data Recovery

Many products claim to restore scratched and dirty CDs and DVDs but there is no way to know if a product will work for a particular situation. Spinning disc cleaners remove very slight imperfections by shaving off a fraction of the disc's surface. Chemical methods attempt to fill in scratches, thus allowing the laser that reads the data to remain focused and continue reading the disc. Data on discs that are cracked, warped or broken into pieces cannot be recovered.

How to Choose a Data Recovery Service

While minimizing downtime and repair costs are important factors, finding a data recovery service that has the experience and capability is paramount. Performing a successful recovery requires knowledge of the type of operating system involved. Data recovery is expensive and professional restoration solutions should provide a clear estimate of what is recoverable, along with the expected cost of the service.

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