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Data Recovery and/or Hard Drive Recovery is not always possible in all scenarios but in the majority of cases significant hard drive recovery is usually possible if the attempt to recover the lost data is made soon after the data loss occurs. Data can be lost in many different ways, the most typical are:
- Accidental Deletion, Erasure or Format.
- Operating System Failure or Software Crash.
- Virus or Spyware Infection.
- Malicious or Intentional Deletion, Erasure, or Format.
- Physical Damage to Storage Medium, ie. Scratched CD/DVD.
- Physical Hard Drive Failure or Crash. Catastrophic Hardware Failure.
Simple accidental deletion is by far the most common form of data loss. In most cases if the affected storage device is brought in immediately following the incident there is a near 100% data recovery rate.
The next most common data loss occurs when there has been an Operating System Crash or System Crash. In this scenario chances are good that the data is still intact on the hard drive, though it may not be accessible in the standard way. A near full data recovery should be possible in the majority of cases.
Virus and Spyware infections can also cause system failures and data destruction. Data recovery in this instance varies depending upon how much damage has occurred.
Malicious destruction occurs when data is intentionally destroyed or deleted. Once again, a hard drive recovery in this case will vary depending upon the skill and thoroughness of the person responsible for the data destruction. Data Recovery from this type of loss can range from a 100% full recovery, to a 0% total loss, depending upon the techniques that were used to destroy the data.
Typically the most severe data loss occurs when a system experiences a catastrophic hardware failure. Because this type of data loss involves physical damage to the hard drive, in some cases portions of the hard drive can be rendered completely unreadable. To recover complete hard drive recovery from a physically damaged hard drive requires very specialized equipment and techniques which means that this type of data recovery can be fairly costly. Thankfully, hardware failure is the least common type of data loss.
In every one of these cases, the sooner the affected hardware is brought in for analysis the better the odds are that a hard drive recovery can be made. Even in the worst case scenarios, partial recovery should be possible.
Typical types of hard drive recovery data that can be recovered include but are not limited to: pictures, music, videos, spreadsheets, databases, letters, and documents of all types.
There are two general categories for Data Recovery:
- Logical Failure: The hard drive is mechanically sound – it spins correctly, the operating system recognizes the device, and all of the mechanical parts inside of the hard drive are functioning correctly. However, there is some reason that the data cannot be accessed through ordinary means. (This can include: accidental deletion or format, data corruption, operating system crash, or miscellaneous lost partitions or boot records.)
- Mechanical or Physical Failure: The hard drive is somehow physically damaged. Some internal part within the hard drive is no longer functioning correctly. The hard drive may make clicking noises or is not recognized by the operating system any longer. (This can be a hard drive crash or control board failure.)
How Hard Drive Recovery works:
- Logical Failure: The lost data is most likely still intact on the hard drive unless new data has been written over it. When a file is deleted or the drive is formatted, the data is not actually removed; the area where the data was stored is simply reallocated for new data storage and the file pointers are reset.
- Mechanical or Physical Failure: The data may still be intact on the hard drive platters but is not accessible due to some mechanical malfunction. Recovering data from a physically damaged hard drive is a very delicate operation and needs to be performed using specialized equipment and processes.
In the case of either a logical failure or a physical failure there is a good chance that a data recovery will be successful if the attempt to recover the data is made immediately after the data loss occurs.
If you suspect your system has experienced a data loss:
The first thing you must do is immediately power down your equipment. Continuing to use your system after a data loss for any other activity, even browsing the Internet, can permanently modify and/or destroy your data. This is the single most important step to minimizing the amount of damage incurred in a data loss scenario.