Comedian Jeff Foxworthy, in his earlier years, did a little piece about how a redneck doctor handles brain surgery.
“First, we gonna saw off the top of your head. Then we gonna root around in there with a stick and see if we can’t find that daggum clot.”
This is precisely the method used by untrained computer users when they attempt to recover data lost as a result of a computer failure. Oh, they may not use a stick. They will usually go out and buy inexpensive data recovery software and attempt to find the missing data without the help of professionals. The results of these exercises will be just as effective as rooting around in the human brain with a stick. It’s apt to make matters worse if it doesn’t destroy the unit completely.
Hard drives fail. Yours will too. The question is when. You can solve your problem preemptively. Keeping your records backed up to a second computer on your network or to your network’s server is the best option if your computer is linked to others. If yours is a home computer or a laptop that travels with you, you should regularly back up your files to a thumb drive and keep that drive in a very safe place.
When your catastrophe occurs, the first thing is to turn your computer off and walk away. Don’t imagine that pushing buttons or slapping the tower around will help. Nor should you entertain the idea of attempting to retrieve your data yourself. Things like family pictures, banking records and financial information or even that novel you are working on, are important enough to save. To you they are priceless. To identity thieves, such personal information is a windfall.
Even though you, as an untrained user, cannot access your data, it IS still in there. There are unsavory sorts who know how to find it and use it. These bad guys can make a bundle of cash from a discarded hard drive which holds a treasure trove of information including your social security number, your passwords to banking information, as well as access to your stocks and your bonds.
When your hard drive crashes, you have two options.
1. Contact a professional data recovery company immediately, even before you try to open the computer case. This option will probably cost you less than the data recovery software. If your data is not recoverable, such a company will guarantee that the offending device is totally demolished and no longer a ticking bomb to your credit score.
2. Find a device destruction company in your area in order to be certain the hard drive is totally obliterated making all data irretrievable. This is the ONLY way to ensure that nobody will be able to access your personal information.
Remember that identity theft is the number one personal property crime in America today. It far surpasses burglary, auto theft, and other crimes in terms of the billions of dollars it costs Americans every year. Properly saving your data and, later, thorough destruction of used devices can help stem the tide of this criminal activity.
The good news is, once you are forced to use the services of a data recovery service, you will be a much better backer-upper. You may never have to face this problem again.