As data recovery specialists, we’re always hearing stories from our clients about data loss, and, of course, helping them to retrieve their data before too much damage has been done to their business.
Unfortunately, whatever precautions and safeguards companies put in place, data does get lost. It’s one of those pesky but inevitable facts of business.
The causes of data loss can be varied and numerous, partly why losing data is such a commonplace occurrence.
It could be a random power outage that causes your hard drive to crash. Perhaps you click on a link in an email, and before you know it a virus has taken over your system and your data is gone. It may even be a simple human error – an accidental click that deletes a file or a coffee spill on an important device.
In one of these situations – where you’ve lost your data – what do you do?
In most cases, there is still a chance for data recovery. But for this to happen, there are some things that you should do, and some things that you should definitely not do.
Our Helpful Dos and Don’ts for Data Loss
The most fundamental piece of advice on what to do when you experience data loss? Don’t panic! And don’t try and fix it yourself.
Any attempts at trying to recover data – particularly if you don’t really know what you’re doing – can simply lead to further damage and potentially permanent data loss.
The best and safest option is to power down your system (computer, laptop etc.), ring an expert and follow their advice.
Take note of what is happening. Calmly assess what you can of the damage and data loss, and write down any observations and understanding you may have of the situation.
What were you doing when the data loss occurred? Did you notice any physical characteristics of the damage – smells of burning or unusual noises? What files do you think have been lost?
Any notes you can make will be very useful when relaying the events to a data recovery specialist and trying to work out a method for recovery.
Check for backups. If you have got an external hard drive, you can use a separate computer to check if there are any backups of the files you think you’ve lost.
You may discover that you have a secure backup and don’t need to recover the data at all. Whilst doing this, make sure you don’t do anything to damage the hard drive or data further.
Contact a data recovery specialist. The most important action you can take after a loss of data is to get in contact with a data recovery specialist.
As experts, they will be able to advise you on what steps to take next. The notes you took of the situation will help them to make an informed decision.
Open the hard drive. This is a golden rule. If you open the hard drive, you risk exposing the sensitive internal components to dust, which can ruin the drive beyond any hope of repair.
Unless you are a professional in a clean room, you are almost guaranteed to cause more damage by attempting to open the drive.
Even the tiniest microscopic dust particles can have a deadly effect on hard drives and destroy any chance of recovering data that could have otherwise been salvaged.
Continue using the device. As soon as you suspect that you have lost data, you should stop using the device or software.
Even seemingly simple actions, such as opening emails or refreshing pages, have the ability to overwrite the files you’ve lost and render the data permanently irretrievable.
“Once data is overwritten, it is gone for good. Unfortunately, it’s not as if we can peel up a layer of paint and see what was underneath.”
– Nicolas Thomas, Operations
In the case of a natural disaster, you will want to remove yourself and your data from any further harm.
Install data recovery software. There are numerous data recovery software programs available to download or buy online, that promise to retrieve data and fix system errors.
The main problem with these programs is that in their attempts to salvage your data, other files will be overwritten or destroyed, sometimes permanently.
Attempt DIY data recovery methods. In the stress-ridden moments after you’ve lost your data, you may be tempted to try out some home-remedy methods for recovery.
Short answer? Don’t. Anything you do can potentially cause more damage and more data loss.
The best solution, always, is to wait for a data recovery specialist who can walk you through your options and advise you on what steps to take next.
Losing data is something that most businesses face at some stage. Luckily, our team at Computer Forensics are experts when it comes to data recovery and will do everything they can to get your data back for you.
Lost your data? We’re here to help. Give us a call on 0800 LOST FILES any time.