Data Recovery

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All hard drives fail

Like most things, hard drives have a lifespan and nobody knows exactly how long each drive will last so it is always important to keep a backup of important data. The most common times for hard drives to fail is either at the beginning or later on in their lifespan, typically over 3 years.

A hard drive can fail near the beginning of its life due to manufacturing defects. This may be because of a bearings issue or a "head crash" and the hard drive will not be recognised by your computer. While many of these issues have been reduced by strict quality control and testing methods, from time to time a large number of users may experience manufacturing defect issues.

Older hard drives have a higher failure rate, as you would expect. A hard drive may gradually start to fail and you will start noticing more errors or crashes, or even just a slow down of your computer. A hard drive may also completely die. You may get errors such as "No Operating System Found" when you power on your computer.

Failing hard disk symptoms

A failing hard disk may start to exhibit these symptoms. The quicker you respond to the symptoms and protect your data the less likely you are to go through a data loss incident.

Symptom Possible cause Data protection steps

Computer crashes frequently or when under heavy use

  • CPU overheating; memory overheating; bad areas on hard disk drive that is being continuously accessed
  • Immediately backup your data
  • Check the computer’s ventilation areas for dust build up
  • Perform a computer diagnostic
  • Perform a memory diagnostic
  • Perform a hard disk diagnostic

Computer start-up takes an excessively long time

  • Depending on where the delay is happening, this may be due to the start of a hardware failure or a hard drive failure
  • Additionally, there may be weak or failing areas on the hard drive and this is preventing the system from starting up
  • Immediately backup your data by putting hard disk drive into a USB external drive enclosure and attaching it to a working computer system
  • Check the computer’s ventilation areas for dust build up
  • Perform a computer diagnostic

Data files are missing

  • Deleted files due to a virus.
  • Possible file system corruption, but original data is present
  • Possible weak or failing areas on the hard disk drive
  • Immediately backup your data
  • Call or bring in your computer to us

File explorer takes a long time to display the contents of a folder

  • Possible file system corruption, but original data is present
  • Possible weak or failing areas on the hard disk drive
  • Call or bring in your computer to us

Hard disk drive diagnostic shows many SMART errors

  • Hard disk drives have self-monitoring technology (SMART) to give an advanced notice of failure
  • Immediately backup your data
  • Replace hard disk drive
  • Copy data to new hard disk drive. This will require the use of hard disk imager software

Important: If you are unable to perform an immediate backup shutdown your computer and bring it straight to us. Attempts to extract the data without professional data recovery services may lead to irretrievable data.

Tips to protect your data

As always, prevention is better than cure so we have some handy tips to protect your data

Use regular backups

Back up data at least once a week with other reliable storage devices, always verifying that the correct data is backed up.

Use an uninterruptible power supply (UPS)

In the event of a surge of electricity or lightning strike, a surge protected UPS protects the computer from becoming damaged. In addition, it has a battery backup that keeps the computer running, allowing you to save the data and avoid any loss. Alternatively, a surge protector is also a good investment.

Prevent your PC from overheating

Regularly check for dust in and around your computer. Always make sure your computer fans are unobstructed.

Run a virus scan regularly and keep it up to date

Computer viruses are one of the worst enemies to data protection. Run a weekly scan and always make sure your anti-virus software is up to date.

Check the room temperature

Extreme heat can result in the premature failure of hard drives, while low humidity combined with dust in drought conditions can promote static electricity issues with electrical components. Adjust temperature and humidity control systems accordingly during changing weather conditions.

Be aware of strange noises

In the event of strange noises or grinding sounds, turn off the computer immediately and call us. Further operation may damage their hard drive beyond repair.

Invest in air conditioning

If you are dealing with larger servers, make sure that they have adequate air conditioning. Increases in computer processor speed have resulted in more power requirements, which in turn require better cooling, especially during the summer months.

In the event of data loss, simply contact us to discuss the solutions available.

Tips for a successful data recovery

You should never assume your data is unrecoverable. Below we have listed some tips to help prevent further data loss.

Physical damage

If you hear strange noises from your hard drive you may have phyiscal damage

  • Do not shake, disassemble or attempt to clean any hard drive or server that has been damaged – improper handling can jeopardise the data recovery process
  • Never attempt to operate any visibly damaged devices
  • Turn off computer immediately – further operation may damage data beyond repair
  • Do not use recovery software since it may destroy what was otherwise recoverable data
  • Do not place a fire-damaged drive in refrigerator to cool media and do not try to remove hard drive – ship the entire computer for recovery
  • Never attempt to dry water damaged media by exposing it to heat. Instead, place the media in a container that will keep it damp before shipping

Non-physical damage

  • Users may see messages such as "No Operating System found", "Corrupt Volume" or may simply be missing files and folders
  • Shut the computer down immediately. The longer a damaged hard drive is left running, the more data that can be irretrievably lost
  • Do not run FSCK or CHKDSK file system repair tools on a virtual disk unless a good backup has been validated by restoring it to a different volume

Water Damage

  • Do not plug in or attempt to power up the damaged drive
  • Place the drive in a sealed anti-static/plastic bag and keep the media damp. Do not try to clean, dry or expose water-logged drives or other media to heat – such as that from a hairdryer

Deleted/Formatted media

  • Restore backups to a different volume; this ensures that all important files are good on the backup before possibly overwriting data on the active volume
  • If there is a RAID problem, test the backup by restoring it to a different location or image each drive from the RAID before attempting a rebuild
  • Do not create any new files on the disk needing recovery or continue to run virtual machines until the important data is recovered

We have partnered with Kroll Ontrack to offer you industry-leading solutions to recover data from virtually any type of data storage device. Utilising a suite of proprietary recovery tools and the most experienced data recovery engineering team in the world, Ontrack Data Recovery services are uniquely equipped to solve even the most extreme data loss scenario.
To request a free quote please click here and complete our self assesment. Alternatively please bring your device to us.

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