The value of information these days often exceeds the value of the storage media themselves. Any loss of valuable computer data often turns to a true disaster – for example, loss or damage of a file that contained company’s annual report, client database or information about the trade operations performed within a period of the whole month. I don’t think that you, home users, would also like to “say good-by” to your valuable information – your photo albums containing memories about unforgettable for you events; recalling of very important for you things; contact information; music and films collection costing a lot at the same time.
And yet, why do the data disappear? Although modern computers are quite reliable there sometimes happen failures caused by computer devices break-downs (most often hard drives and disk controllers break-downs ), program errors, computer viruses as well as user mistakes.
There are two types of hard drives damages – physical and logical. If a hard drive has physical damages its surface could be injured resulting in appearance of bad-blocks. Electronic components could go out of order as well (controller board or chip replacement is required). Depending on the cause of the drive failure it may require an extra repair.
How to determine that hard drive physical damage has occurred? If this is the disk where Windows is installed then as you turned the computer on it won’t boot or it will “hang” during the boot… At the same time the drive “will remain silent” (there will be no sound of drive spinning and no vibration will be heard) or it will produce abnormal noises in the nature of rhythmic clicks. If Windows is installed on a different drive then the “failed” disk won’t be displayed in”My computer”, “Disk manager”, “Device manager” as well as in BIOS. At home the data from such drives are practically unrecoverable, that’s why you’d better not disassemble your computer and not try to repair the failure by yourself. Your self-activity will cause total loss of your data. In this situation you should turn to a service center immediately. Remember, the earlier you start “data revival” the more chances you receive to have them recovered completely.
Damages of logical structures of files include the following: disk formatting, hard drive partition deletion, deletion of certain files, viruses influence as well as software or operating system failures. You may try to recover the data lost due to such failures with a software and you have high chances to succeed.
To avoid complicated data recovery process you should keep all copies of your files in a safe place preferably on external media. It’s important to make back-ups opportunely and regularly. In this case if something occurs to your hard drive you don’t run the risk to loose important data. The most popular back-up media are CD, DVD, USB-Flash, DAS (Direct-attached storage), NAS (Network Attached Storage). You may make back-ups of definite the most valuable files or the hard drive as a whole. To make a back-up of the hard drive there exist a range of programs creating disk images (for instance, Acronis and Paragon Drive Backup or built-in back-ups). In case of emergency they allow to recover the whole disk, a definite partition or a certain file easily and conveniently, and besides they will permit you to protect your data from viruses.
Another way allowing to store the data better and safer is to use RAID (Redundant Array of Independent (or Inexpensive) Disks). RAID is a method to store the same data in different places on different disks (redundant storage). The Array is reflected in the operating system as a single disk although it consists of two and more disks. Data are recorded by various methods of data distribution across the disks.
Nevertheless, despite of all safety measures the data will still disappear. Errors are inevitable and failures are possible. You should realize that every day your computer is exposed to all feasible computer hazards. No matter if you use Mac or PC – viruses, hackers, power supply problems, natural phenomena, human mistakes, hardware malfunctions and many other factors can damage your computer. To keep your data safe you should make file back-ups. However, if failure occurs (including failures with the device where back-ups are stored) your the only solution will be data recovery. If you are absolutely sure of the hard drive intactness my personal recommendation will be to use utilities for self data recovery. But if you’re even slightly unsure you’d better turn to experts.
At present you can find utilities specially designed for recovery of lost files including those from formatted hard drives. Many of them operate entirely automatically and help solve the most simple tasks. Their automatic mode is user-friendly – to recover files with such utilities you don’t need to know file system arrangement or data storage specifics. But data recovery process is quite complicated and has many peculiarities. Commonly, automatic utilities allow to solve typical problems only and very often cannot resolve the assigned task. Moreover, some of them can modify data on the hard drive and, as you see, this can cause impossibility to recover your data with other means. There is a range of quite powerful and easy-to-use utilities. Mostly, they have convenient and “user-friendly” interface and higher data recovery functionality. UFS Explorer Standard Recovery, for instance, has both automatic data recovery and advanced lost files search options. At the same time, data access is available in “read-only” mode that grants background data safety.
How can data recovery software help you? It’s not worth expecting that such a software will be able to recover the data you have deleted one year ago. The utilities recover exactly what was left on the disk, nothing else. That’s why it’s vitally important to start the recovery as soon as possible. Download the recovery utilities and install them, but definitely bear in mind that you shouldn’t install them to the hard drive where you are going to recover the data. You should install the utility to another hard drive rather than to the drive from where your data have disappeared. The situation becomes much more complicated if the data to be recovered lies in the same partition that the operating system (for Windows this is a default C disk). In this case the recovery chance lessens a lot. That’s why using other drive’s logical partitions to store important data is advisable.