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Data Recovery Options Explained

Data recovery options for bad hard drives

The need for data recovery

If you're like most modern computer users, you probably have lots of important (and irreplaceable) files residing on your PC's hard disk (which nowadays is most likely huge and packed with data). Many of us tend to take our PCs for granted, assuming they'll work on and on without any problems.

But the fact is these amazing machines stop working all the time. If you use your PC a lot, it's virtually guaranteed that you'll experience problems with your hard drive sooner or later. That's where data recovery comes in.

Data recovery options

The simplest (and cheapest) method of data recovery is restoring your data from a backup set. You do perform regular backups, right?

Well, if you have critical information residing on your system, you should! (You'll eventually be very glad you do.) Besides, modern day tape drives, CD-RWs, and DVD-ROM drives make the process easy!

But what if your drive goes south and you don't have a current backup set (or if it's corrupted)? In this case your options depend on the situation:

  1. Can the hard drive be accessed at all? If so, you can purchase data recovery software that will scan the drive and transfer all the information that it can read to another medium.

    Most data recovery software packages work very well and are relatively inexpensive when compared to professional data recovery services.
  2. If the drive is inaccessible, your only option is to utilize the services of a company that offers professional data recovery services.

    You send them your bad hard drive and they will recover all the data they can using special data recovery equipment and software, usually with around a 90% success rate.

    The downside? Professional data recovery services are expensive! But alas, this may well be your only option.
Procedures for protecting your data

Here are a few tips for making sure you can quickly recover from a hard drive failure (and possibly even prevent one):
  • Use your operating system's hard disk maintenance utilities on a regular basis. Keeping your file system in good shape eases the workload on the drive which helps it last longer.
  • Perform regular backups. If your PC doesn't already have a CD-RW, DVD-ROM, or tape drive, invest in one. These days they are very inexpensive when you consider how easy they make protecting your precious data! Alternatively, sign up for one of the popular online backup services such as Mozy or Carbonite.

    Don't use the same tape or disc to store each backup set! Use at least two, alternating them each time. That way if one data set is unusable for any reason, you'll have another one available to you.
  • Invest in a quality data recovery software package. Right now it might seem like a waste of money, but when the time comes that you need it you'll be glad you have it.
  • Pay attention to your PC. If you start getting disk errors or hearing strange noises from the hard drive, make a fresh backup immediately! These are signs that a hard disk problem might be imminent.

    After you have successfully backed up the drive, install a new one and transfer the operating system and your data to it. Then remove the old drive from the system.

Data recovery is something that most people don't think about but they'll eventually need. Taking steps to protect your critical data now could save you endless frustration and revenue loss later.

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