Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Data Recovery: What to Do When Files Seem Lost

True data recovery emerged in the early 1980s as computers began to be integrated into many businesses big and small. As many job tasks began to rely on computers, so too did the possibility of data being lost due to physical or logical damage. Suffice to say, in this day and age of computer technology, the repercussions of data loss can be great.

Internet businesses for example, which are built on the accuracy and immediacy of their data, can lose more than just information if there’s a computer failure. It can mean losses to capital, time, clients, and revenue. For this reason, technicians have risen in the ranks of the business hierarchy. When computers crash, their expertise in data recovery is what can literally save the day.

Technically, recovery helps salvage data from storage media that’s been damaged, corrupted, failed, or is otherwise inaccessible. When the data cannot be retrieved via a normal process, then recovery becomes necessary.

Recovery techniques include actual hardware repair, consistency checking, and zero-knowledge analysis for logical damage. In this latter technique, a repair program attempts to rebuild a file system from scratch by matching what is left from the damaged system to what should be there in a complete one. With this technique, it is oftentimes possible to reconstruct logical files thought to be completely destroyed.

From personal notebooks to company-wide networks, data recovery is also the fail-safe. All computers come equipped with a program that can perform basic data recovery, which is oftentimes all that is needed. Especially if preventative measures are taken to minimize the occurrence of failure. However, sometimes errors or crashes are unavoidable, such as when there’s an unexpected power outage. In such instances, professional data recovery experts (either on-site or off-site) may need to be called in.

Most data recovery companies are trained to work on the most common of data-loss problems, including hard drive recovery, laptop/desktop recovery, server recovery, OS recovery, and RAID (redundant array of independent disks) recovery. For businesses, RAID recovery can be the most critical. In order for a RAID to work properly, it’s imperative that all parts are functioning in sync. Thus, damage to one part can spell disaster for the whole system and consequently, business operations.

Reasons for data loss or damage are various. Though we’ve primarily discussed computers, all storage media is susceptible to failure. A CD-ROM, a hard disk, and memory chips are all storage media devices that could malfunction and need repair. Physical damage often cannot be fixed by an end user, while logical damage on occasion can. For example, if a computer uses a journaling file system, which is a file system that first logs changes and then writes them to the primary file system, it’s possible to simply roll back the computer to a consistent state. If so, the only data lost will be any that wasn’t recorded from the last time the journal log was updated.

Data recovery is a major element of the computer age, given that everyone seems to have a digital device of some kind and stored media is coveted for both professional and personal use. When a hard drive crashes, time is crucial in saving any data that remains or finding what was thought to be lost. Indeed, salvaging damaged, failed, or corrupted data can mean the difference between recovery and starting all over again. BY :Thomas Husnik