Data Loss and data recovery- file recovery tool to HDD repair tools- how to prevent data loss

File recovery and HDD repair tools the most flourishing filed in the modern IT business world because data loss happens every day. Data loss is inescapable and can be reported everywhere whether due to human error, software corruption, hard drive failure or other data loss causes. Data loss has serious implications for business. Data loss can lead to costly downtime for sales and marketing and reduced customer service while customer databases are restored or rebuilt. Lost financial data can lead to lost contracts and stock value, or worse. File recovery and HDD repair tools is common because 6% of all PCs will suffer an episode of data loss in any given year, 31% of PC users suffer data loss of all their files due to events beyond their control. From the statistical analysis of DataLossDB(see picture ), It is accepted that data lose prosper the whole data recovery and file recovery industry.

Why data loss is so common in the modern life? And how does data lose? First it should mention the growth of data storage is that the cost per megabyte has plummeted over the past twenty years, hard drive capacity was increased 200-fold in ten year (see picture).Companies are relying more and more on data in a distributed environment and "paper files" is less used than a computer. Most important files are store on a small disk, if the hard driver is corrupt; you have to resort to file recovery.

Data loss can due to any reasons, but file Recovery engineers classify hard drive data loss in two main categories:

Logical failure - the hard drive is in working order but some files or data cannot be accessed for logical reasons such as a lost partition or accidental reformatting, the logical file recovery software can solve those problems.

Physical failure - the hard drive is not functioning. The most common causes are head crashes and motor failures so both file recovery and data recovery are needed.

To start a file recovery business, firstly should understand the reasons cause data loss. There are two types of Data Loss in data recovery.

Logical Data Loss: Hard drive that is physically functioning, recognized by the system BIOS, and where critical data is not accessible, this is likely to be experiencing a logical failure. Logical Data Loss is the most common damage in file recovery. Logical data Loss is caused due to:

Human error, including accidental deletion of files;

Virus attack;

Software malfunction;

Power surge.

Physical data Loss is a hard drive cannot accessible by software such as the system BIOS, Windows' Disk Management, or other disk utilities it can be considered as truly dead and in need of data recovery, Physical data Loss happens due to various reasons such as:

Hardware failure (electrical, mechanical component), including damage by power surge and drive failure.

Natural disasters like floods, fire, lightning.

Accidental dropping of disk to the floor also may cause hard disk getting damaged physically.

Statistical investigate from file recovery companies can give us a clear understand of data loss reasons.

Statistical investigate from file recovery and data recovery services companies show that data Loss could be concluded as following reasons: Hard drive failure is the most common cause of data loss, accounting for 38 percent of data loss. Drive read instability includes occasions where media corruption or degradation is about 30%. Software corruption, which might include damages, caused by system software or other program (e.g., virus attack), accounts for 13 percent of data loss incidents. Human error accounts for 12 percent of data loss episodes. This includes the accidental deletion of data as well as incorrectly partitioning the hard drive.

In file recovery filed, there are some distinguishes on broad sense file recovery and general file recovery, as well as file recovery, data loss is also have the broad sense data loss and general data loss, broad sense data lose including stolen laptop, stolen document, web and hack(see picture )

What we usually mentioned is general data loss which can find back the lost data by file recovery and data recovery.

Thus data loss is so common in daily life, which industry is the worst industry that the recoverable data loss? Data from file recovery and data recovery services companies show that customs form the Government, Healthcare and Education are the most valuable client. The Statistical picture from file recovery companies can give us a clear understand of the structure proportion (see picture )

Here need a clear mind on recoverable date loss and unrecoverable data loss. File recovery engineer point out that data loss will result in one of two outcomes: either the data loss are recoverable with the assistance of file recovery technician, or the data are permanently lost cannot find back. Each data loss incident must take into account both possibilities. The ability to recover data depends on the cause of the data loss. The permanent loss or theft of a laptop whose data have no backup will result in permanently lost data. In addition, fire or flood damage can also make the possibility of data recovery very remote. For other causes of data loss, file recovery technicians are becoming more adept at restoring inaccessible data. Taking into account all causes of data loss, evidence suggests that in 83 percent of the cases, data may be recovered.

To start a file recovery process, firstly should understand how data is stored on a hard drive. When information is written to a drive, the location of the information is stored in a file that resembles a table of contents for a book, on computers running DOS and Windows operating systems, the File Allocation Table (FAT) or the Master File Table (MFT) holds this information. When a file is deleted, the FAT or MFT table is updated to tell the computer the space on the hard drive is available, however the actual data is not deleted until it is overwritten with new data. This is why you read about computer forensic teams, the FBI, and other law enforcement being able to recover data to solve crimes or incriminate individuals. Using file recovery tools and HDD repair tools, you can restore files that were accidentally or otherwise deleted. In more severe case, services such as Drive Savers are used to recover data that has been physically or electronically destroyed.

Hard drive failure is the largest single explanation for data loss. Hard drive failure may be related to mechanical, electronic, or firmware failures. Hard disk failure occurs when a hard disk drive malfunctions and the stored information cannot be accessed with a properly configured computer. A disk failure may occur in the course of normal operation or due to an external factor such as exposure to fire or water or high magnetic waves, or suffering a sharp impact, which can lead to a head crash. Mechanical failures occur when physical components of the device itself begin to wear or malfunction. Electronic failures occur when the printed circuit board begins to produce errors. Finally, many hard drive failures are related to out-of-date, corrupt or buggy firmware. Firmware is the controlling software that is built into the hardware device itself stored on disk platters of the drive. Like most software in use today, firmware may become damaged or corrupt over time. This is a very common failure for modern drives because of the complexity of firmware design.

As same as data loss type, there are 2 types of hard drive failure: logical and physical.

Logical Hard Drive Failure

In case of logical failure, data cannot be accessed because data structure on the disk is damaged. It happen as a result of an accidental deletion of important system files, partitions/volumes, accidental hard drive formatting or deletion of hard drive, application conflicts, operating system corruption or virus attack) But the mechanically the hard drive is intact and working properly. Often, the drive still gets recognized by the BIOS, but would not boot. In this case, some problems can be solved by file recovery software, but other problems only resort to quality HDD repair tools or data recovery hardware.

Physical Hard Drive Failure

If the hard driver had a mechanical or electrical hard drive failure, file recovery software won't help. Only data / file recovery experts with HDD repair tools can retrieve back the information and even repair the hard drive. However, for all cases of data loss there are certain actions you should avoid to maximize chances of data file recovery. Physical hard drive failure is unavoidable, sooner or later. As a rule, hard drives either crash at the beginning of their life or may last for years.

Most instances of hard drive failure do not destroy all of the data on the disk and much of the data on failed drives is often recoverable. Both consumer applications and professional file recovery tool and data recovery tools are available to recover lost data. Which alternative to choose depends upon the value of the lost data? The more valuable the data on the failed drive the fewer non-professional recovery attempts should be made. Non-professional file recovery tools and system software often fix errors by overwriting the file system on the drive. Though this may repair the file system, it permanently destroys the data. Disks with highly valuable data should be sent to a professional file recovery service. File recovery firms found that 15% of all non-recoverable data loss situations were created by prior non-professional file recovery attempt.

The most thorough professional file recovery services are able to retrieve data from drives with mechanical, electronic, and firmware failures. Broad sense data recovery includes drive restoration, disk imaging, and data retrieval. First, during the drive restoration phase any existing damage on the hard drive is repaired. This includes mechanical problems such as failed heads, electronic problems such as failed PCBs, and firmware issues. These repairs are made by replacing individual drive components with donor parts and fixing firmware. A second phase is disk imaging where the contents of the drive are retrieved, e.g. retrieving bad sectors or handling other read instability issues, and copied to a healthy drive to reduce the probability of further data loss on the original drive. Finally, the data is retrieved from the new healthy drive. During this phase the drive file system is restored, all files are verified for integrity and repaired. It should be noted that many p rofessional file recovery services focus almost exclusively on data retrieval. However, without adequate attention to drive restoration and disk imaging any data retrieval effort will likely encounter serious challenges and may lead to further drive degradation and data loss.

What are the common Reasons of Hard Disk Drive failures?

1. Electronic Component Failure

2. Motor Failure

3. Read / Write Head Failure

4. Media Damage

5. Firmware Corruption

6. Logical Failure

7. Age and Usage

8. Faulty air filter:

Electronic components may fail due to voltage transients, heat or poor handling. Substitution, repair and re-programming is generally required in order to recover data stored on the hard disk. PCB assemblies are however hyper tuned at the manufacture stage and specialist re-programming and calibration is subsequently required to restore the hard disk to a working condition.

Hard disk motor spindles have fluid bearings; sometimes this fluid leaks or becomes overheated and in-effective. The motor will then seize and the hard disk platters fail to rotate. Platter and component re-location to another hard disk assembly is required to affect a repair and restore data.

Read / write heads are aerodynamically designed to "fly" at nanometer distances above the surface of the platters. Ceramic thin film sensors at their tip detect magnetic information (data) stored on the surface of the platter. Occasionally the atmosphere in the hard disk enclosure will become contaminated or vibration will cause the dynamic of the head to be disturbed. This disturbance will cause the read /write process to malfunction resulting in bad data read write cycles and eventual failure.

This type of failure usually manifests itself as a distinct clicking noise as the head actuator makes failed repeat attempts to locate data at the same platter track location.

Media Damage

Amazingly all computer hard disk magnetic storage media is manufactured imperfect but to acceptable and controllable levels. During normal operations imperfections will sometimes increase above the predefined acceptable level. This can be due to heat, vibration, head crash, shock or other factors. The operating system will flag errors or fail to boot and data files will then become in-accessible. Read/.Write head replacement and file repair will allow data file structures to be examined and assessed as to their validity.

Hard disk firmware holds precise parameters relevant to the configuration of the assembly at the time of manufacture. Occasionally the firmware becomes corrupt or will "roll back" to an incorrect set of parameters. Under these conditions the location of the stored data as reported to the operating system will be lost. Simple restoration of the correct parameters will allow the hard disk to function correctly. What causes this corruption? Operating system to drive software bugs, control bus protocol failure, it is difficult to determine but failures do occur.

Data files are stored at logical locations that relate to a number of physical locations on the surface of the hard disk platters. These logical locations are held in tables by the operating system and indexed when running specific software applications. Operating system errors, reloads or incorrect upgrade applications will sometimes corrupt these tables and data will become in-accessible. This is generally referred to as a logical failure. Logical errors can be repaired with file recovery software available from the internet. Be cautious however if you are intending to run a fix utility on your disk you can inadvertently damage these tables irreparably and your data will be unrecoverable. This is especially true when running Scan Disk and Chick disk on a damaged hard drive.

Age and Usage:

As with all mechanical devices, after a certain amount of normal use, they wear out. The motor and bearings don't last forever. The time for a hard drive to wear out could be much longer than your computer's lifespan or you can accelerate the process by running your computer constantly without spinning down the disk. This happens often in desktops that are left to run overnight as well as in servers which run constantly by design.

Faulty air filter:

The air filters on today's hard drives equalize the atmospheric pressure and moisture between the hard drive enclosure and its outside environment. If the filter fails to capture a dust particle, the particle can land on the platter, causing a head crash if the head happens to sweep over it. After a hard drive crash, each particle from the damaged platter and head media can cause a bad sector.

What to Do When you Experience Hard Drive Failure

Evidenced, hard drive failure is the most common source of data loss which can lead to negative consequences for any business. Unfortunately, hard drive failure is inevitable. It is not a question of if a firm's hard drives will fail, but when. However, with proper planning and a strategic response hard drive failure does not have to lead to data loss. Below we offer seven recommended strategies for dealing with hard drive failure.

If the failed drive is the system boot disk, immediately unplug the computer and remove the drive. Do not attempt to reboot from this drive. Depending on the nature of the data stored on this drive, one may wish to make an initial attempt at data recovery before sending the drive to a professional data recovery service. However, if the data on the drive is mission critical, we recommend immediately contacting a professional data recovery service.

If the disk does not contain mission-critical information, one may attempt to retrieve the data without the assistance of a professional data recovery service. However, do not execute any system software, such as chkdsk' to repair the file system unless you can afford to lose the data completely. System software is intended to repair a disk's file system, not to recover data. These tools will most likely overwrite lost data.

If the failure is definitely related to the file system (e.g., deleted files, OS failure, or virus attack...), and not physical, electronic, or firmware failure, data retrieval software may be able to recover the disk's data. We recommend first installing the drive into an external USB enclosure for this process to reduce the disk utilization during boot up. Once the drive is recognized by the Operating System, immediately begin the data retrieval. Do not save any files to the target disk or install programs as this would likely overwrite lost data. Though this strategy is often successful, there is a chance the OS will overwrite some lost data while updating or writing system files to the drive thus resulting in data loss. Therefore we do not recommend applying this recovery method on drives containing mission-critical information. If this strategy does not recover your data you should contact a professional data recovery service for assistance.

Never open a drive case. It may only be opened in a clean-room environment. Any other exposure will eventually result in the physical destruction of the disk's magnetic layer and the complete loss of data.

Never attempt to swap PCBs from a healthy drive to a failed drive. Modern hard drives are manufactured with unique configuration parameters based on the tolerances of the individual components at the disk's manufacture. Applying PCB/ROM to a disk for which it was not manufactured may destroy the drive and make it non-repairable. This is true even if the two drives share a common manufacturer, model, and manufacturing date.

Do not attempt to "repair" bad sectors or to read data from bad sectors by using data retrieval software on a failing disk. Doing so will either overwrite the underlying data or result in data loss. Note: as described above professional imaging tools retrieve bad sectors to a healthy disk rather than repairing or skipping bad sectors from a failing disk.

In cases of water, fire, or vandalism damage, do not attempt to power up a system that contains critical data. Doing so may destroy the disk's magnetic layer and cause the data to be non-recoverable.

While data loss affects everyone who uses a computer, it is especially problematic for those who use word processing software. There is nothing more frustrating than losing the important documents that you've spent so much time creating -- especially if you're like most users who create documents directly on the computer and don't have the benefit of a handwritten copy. If you'd like to reduce your chances of requiring data recovery, consider giving some of these free or low-cost tips a try.

The way to prevent data loss

1. Never store your documents on the same drive as your operating system

While most word processors will save your files in the My Documents folder, this is the worst place for them. Whether it is a virus or software failure, the majority of computer problems affect the operating system, and oftentimes the only solution is to reformat the drive and reinstall the operating system. In such an instance, everything on the drive will be lost.

Installing a second hard-drive in your computer is a relatively low cost way to take care of this problem. A second internal hard-drive will not be affected if the operating system is corrupted, and it can even be installed in another computer if you need to buy a new one; further, you'll be surprised at how easy they are to set up.

If you're skeptical about installing a second internal drive, an excellent alternative is to buy an external hard-drive. An external drive can be attached to any computer at any time simply by plugging it into a USB or firmware port.

Many external drives also have the added benefit of one-touch and/or scheduled back ups -- you simply specify the folders and the software will take care of the rest. I use Maxtor's external 200GB hard drive, which not only has ample room, but is easy to use (compare prices).

If another hard-drive is not an option for you, then save your files to clearly labeled floppy disks, but beware: computer manufacturers are moving away from including floppy drives with new computers, so you might have problems in the future retrieving data from floppies.

2. Back-up your critical files.

Back-up your critical files. With the ability to store data on CDs on a weekly or monthly basis, a small investment in a stack of CDs will save you from loosing your critical documents, files, priceless images and MP3s. Back-up your do it regularly and always verify your back-up by restoring the data to your computer.

Just storing your files in a different location than your operating system isn't enough; you need to create regular backups of your files, and let's face it, even your back up is subject to failure: cds get scratched, hard drives break, and floppies get erased.

It makes sense to increase your odds of being able to retrieve a file by having a second back up of it; if the data is truly important, you might even want to think about storing a backup in a fireproof vault.

3. Install Anti-Virus program.

Run some sort of Anti-Virus Program. Viruses get into your computer a variety of ways; by reading an infected attachment in your e-mail, by sharing files (which are already infected), and by visiting websites that take advantage of security flaws to compromise and destroy your data.

4. Beware of email attachments

Even if you're certain they don't contain viruses, email attachments can cause you to lose data. Think about it: if you receive a document with the same name as one on your drive, and your email software is set to save attachments in the same location, you run the risk of overwriting the file that's already there. This often happens when you're collaborating on a document and send it via email.

So make sure you set your email program to save attachments in a unique location, or, barring that, make sure you think twice before saving an email attachment on your hard drive.

5. Beware of user error

We don't like to admit it, but we often engineer our own problems. Take advantage of safeguards included in your word processor, such as versioning features and tracked changes. Common ways users lose data are when they're editing a document and accidentally delete portions -- after the document is saved; the portions that are changed or deleted are lost unless you've enabled features that will store changes for you.

If you don't want to mess with the advanced features, use the F12 key before you start working to save the file under a different name. It isn't as organized as some of the other methods, but it is a useful trick nonetheless.

6. Quit all programs before shut down.

Shut down your computer. Always quit your programs before shutting down your computer. When you quit a program, it saves vital data and then exits the program. If you just turn off your computer without properly exiting your applications and closing your files, you run the risk of loosing your data.

7. Never shake or remove the covers on hard drives or tapes.

Please don't disassemble your hard drive. In nearly all examples of this, data is usually not recoverable once an inexperienced person attempts to 'investigate' where that 'strange clicking noise' is coming from. Leave the diagnostics to a data recovery specialist who has experience with all types of hard drives and knows how to perform a successful data recovery.

8. Beware of diagnostic programs.

While it is a good idea to check the health of your computer running diagnostics software, be careful with allowing such programs to repair data files it may find. Check Disk can be your friend, but also may make it more difficult to recover data from a hard drive which has had such diagnostic programs run on it.

9. Be aware of your surroundings.

Keep your computers and servers in safe and secure locations from accidentally getting knocked over, dropped, or spilled on. Laptops, while convenient to use, are often dropped and require hard drive data recovery. Just because it is a nice day and you are casually working by the pool with your laptop, don't assume that the guy jumping into the pool realizes his tidal splash will not only soak you...but ruin your laptop and require data recovery for your critical data.

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