Dealing with Data Loss – How to Handle the Most Common Data Loss Situations

December 21, 2012

Losing critical data is one of the most nightmarish situations that computer users can face. Whether the data in question contains important business or contact files, precious photos or sensitive personal information, losing crucial data can cause a significant amount of frustration and stress.

Fortunately, in many cases data lost from a computer system can be restored if you take the proper steps. Here’s what you can do when faced with the most common causes of data loss.

Damaged Hard Drives

Hard drives can often be repaired with professional help. The process requires a dust free clean room environment to prevent dust or other particles in the atmosphere from coming into contact with the surface of the disk. The disk’s platter, the part where the information is actually stored, can be removed from its case and cleaned, allowing access to the data.

Data can be salvaged from even very badly damaged drives, as long as the disk platter has been protected by the outer casing. Despite significant damage, in most cases at least some of the files or portions of files can be retrieved if the proper procedures are followed. It’s important to get it right the first time, the more a damaged drive has been manipulated, the less chance there is of a successful recovery.

Damaged Storage Media

Files that are lost due to broken, scratched or otherwise damaged CDs and DVDs can be recovered in some cases. A data recovery provider with the right equipment can shave off a small layer of the disk, removing scratches and imperfections on the surface of the disk without erasing the data. There are also chemical solutions that fill in surface scratches and allow the data to be read.

On the other hand, disks that are cracked or warped are very difficult to repair and unfortunately in many cases it’s impossible to retrieve this information. It’s important to keep your CDs and DVDs in a well protected environment, in their cases and away from direct sunlight, moisture or extreme heat.    

Accidentally Deleted Data

None of us like to admit this, but we are often our own worst enemy when it comes to accidentally deleted data. There’s nothing worse than realizing you’ve just hit the wrong key and deleted important files, and it happens more often than you might think.

Fortunately, deleted files are relatively easy to recover provided the computer is fully functional. It’s very important in these cases to stop using the computer the moment you realize that your files have been erased. The more you use the computer, the greater the chance that you will overwrite the missing files, rendering them unreadable.

A data recovery provider can use targeted software to look for deleted files on your hard drive, CD or DVD and restore it to normal function. 

Corrupted Data

Data that has been corrupted due to a virus or malware infection can also be restored in most cases with the right software. This restoration is best performed by a professional, with specialized data recovery programs and computers.

While there are home versions of data recovery software, they typically have limited functionality and often only work in relatively straight forward and uncomplicated situations. As in all cases of data retrieval, the first attempt is the most likely to be successful so you may not wish to risk trying a home solution.

While data loss is often a stressful event, the good news is that your files can be retrieved in most cases. The chance of recovering your data depend on the type of damage, the steps taken immediately after the data loss, and the professional you choose to help restore your files.