Your precious hard drive is giving problems (that’s the part of the computer where all your programs and files are stored) and you’ve heard of “data recovery” – so there’s still some hope. You rush over to the nearest computer store and request they save your information, especially those photos you’ve never bothered making a back-up of.
This is just one of many scenarios which might happen to you one day. Or it could be that someone actually re-formatted the drive in an effort to sort out some kind of problem, not realising that your information will be lost by doing this.
Data can be recovered to an extend. What does this mean in real life? That depends on what happened to the drive.
Data recovery does not come cheap. It involves a lot of time and effort which offers very little guarantees. Be prepared to spend money on a risky procedure which might not yield the results you’re hoping for.
Accidentally deleting files or complete folders give the best results if a certain condition is met – shut down the computer immediately and take it in for recovery. A simple explanation is needed here in order to understand why this is important –
Any information stored on a storage medium such as hard drives is written randomly on open spaces and recorded in an index on the hard drive. The index consists of the file name and position of where it is located on the physical hard drive (this is a very simple explanation without the techno geek). When we delete files totally (not in the recycle bin anymore) the hard drive clears the index entries for those files and mark them as available space on the hard drive. In short this means that the physical data is still on the hard drive, but marked to be overwritten by fresh data.
So, you’ve deleted some old spreadsheets and decide to copy that new Dozi CD onto the computer. Dozi will thrash your old information without tequila and make those spreadsheets unrecoverable. See the logic behind “switch off immediately”?
Ordinary computer users have two things in mind when data has been lost – I need all of it back and I need it by tomorrow. We try to do the impossible daily but miracles do take a bit longer.
On a working 500GB hard drive we’re looking at at least two days to even start with copying recovered data off the drive. At this stage we should have a list of possible files that can be recovered – and all of these might not even be what you’re looking for. Because neither you nor us have the time available to sift through thousands of files, we save the whole lot.
Of these there are two types of recovered files – those that cannot be identified properly and those that can be recovered with it’s full and proper file name intact. We do the lot. You as the customer will have to spend many hours sifting through these files afterwards. And there is no guarantee that these files will be in 100% original condition – that’s the chance we take and pay for.
A 2TB hard drive packed with movies and music can take up to 2 weeks to recover. The important point here is not to try and rush the process. Don’t bring in an external for data recovery with the expectations that it will all be dandy by tomorrow afternoon when you need to leave on holiday. It will not happen, or you might be dissapointed that all the files were not recovered.
Damaged hard drives yield very little possibility in recovery of data. Hard drives which changed it’s data structure (i.e. it was an NTFS partition and all of a sudden changed to RAW) has a much better prospect of being rescued. Any user attempts in re-formatting these drives just makes things a bit more difficult for us.
Deleted files are the easiest to recover, as long as new data has not been written to it. Next time you wipe that SD card on your camera to only realise afterwards that those photos were not saved on the computer, use another card and pop that one in for recovery.