Data does not merely mean the information kept on a home pc’s hard drive. It includes USB drives, DVDs, mobile phones and digital cameras. Taken together these gadgets contain all the information that makes up our daily existence, and we are entirely dependant on them. Therefore, if the data is somehow lost, we would be in an unimaginably bad situation. Paper was discarded in the first place because it was so very perishable. While the digital storage devices we have come up with are not so delicate, they too can be destroyed. What many of us may still not know is that data may be recovered even in seemingly hopeless situations.
It is also important that, thanks to the volatile nature of the digital mode, data can be stored in multiple devices, creating effective backups in case of any loss. When data is stored online, for example, it cannot be lost so easily, and has a very high degree of security. Some companies offer the option of secure offline storage too. The days when a fire or a flood or dropping a laptop from our hands would reduce us to tearing our hair in despair are gone. However, at the moment of such crisis, we may still make a few mistakes and inadvertently jeopardise the whole process.
How to Tackle Data Loss
There are a few perfectly simple rules to be adhered to in case of massive data loss. These are furnished below in brief:
1. If data loss happens due to fire our usual instinct is to first put out the fire with water, and then dry it
up as fast as possible. Both steps can be really harmful for digitally stored data. Firstly, even if the
hard drive has been literally fried with heat, the information on it can still be intact unless the
melting point of iron has been reached. Water however, can seep into the inner compartment of
the drive where the disk itself is housed, and damage it fatally. In case of water damage, the disk
should be maintained in a wet condition, because the water leaves behind debris on the surface of
the disk as it dries, and corrodes the metal as well. In case of impact, i. e. , if the machine is
dropped, it should not be started on, but packed off to the data recovery company as it is.
2. Data loss can also happen through virus attack or accidental formatting of a drive or its partition. In that case, there are several DIY data recovery packages are available on the net which may remedy the situation. Please bear in mind that wrong installation or mishandling of such software can damage data forever. If the data is really precious, you would have to approach a recovery company – they will do a better job – and may not be as expensive as you imagine them to be.
3. General Guidelines: There are some general rules to be followed in case of any data loss situation:
I. Do not panic. A wrong step on your side can damage the data which is still intact.
II. Check for backups. Perhaps a fire has consumed everything that you possessed – but are you sure there were no other backups? How about the information stored in your office pc, or the photographs you have circulated? These can be compiled back by you. Make a list of all data recoverable by you; it will help cut the costs incurred now in the process of rebuilding everything again.
III. Check out the insurance cover. You do not have the records any more, but your bank does, and the store from where you had bought the goods will still have their counterparts of the transaction. File the claims with the companies concerned, stating clearly what had happened. Please remember that they may ask for proof that you are telling the truth. It is best not to dig up an improbable story, because you will get caught during the verification process.
IV. Go on the internet and find out a proper data recovery company whom you can trust. Meanwhile, make a check list and ensure that you have gathered together all the devices and have all papers in order.
Most importantly, do not lose hope. Data has survived shipwrecks. It will survive this too.
James Walsh is a freelance writer and copy editor. For more information on Data Recovery see http://www.fields-data-recovery.co.uk