“What Do I Need To Know” Data Recovery 101


A Comprehensive Look into Data Recovery

Your hard drive crashed and you don’t know where to begin?

Professional data recovery companies use two types of approaches to recovering data.

logical-recoverySuccessful recovery can be possible in both of these categories, however the extent of the damage to the platters, or corruption of the data is what ultimately determines the outcome.

All data recoveries fall into two categories no matter what has happened to the media, or the data on it.

  1. Logical Damage
  2. Mechanical Damage

Each of these two categories are named after the type of damage done to the data, or the media which it is stored on.

#1 Logical Data Recovery

Logical recovery is performed usually when the software (partition table or filesystem) has been damaged, and the data is not readable any longer.

This is usually due to:

  • User error (deleting or formatting the data)
  • Operating system corruption
  • Viruses and malware
  • Sudden power loss
  • Operating system updates
  • Mechanical failure

The regular story is the user has deleted files, emptied the recycle bin, pressed  SHIFT + DEL at the same time, and has accidentally deleted some files that were important, or valuable.

no boot-device-available

Common Logical Damage Scenarios

  1. Windows is notorious for doing updates in the middle of the night, and you wake up and your computer won’t boot.
  2. A user was trying to repair the MBR, or partition the drive and the procedure fails or is done improperly, or is done on an already failing drive.
  3. Virus infection usually comprised of root kit infections or other very harmful computer malware coupled with removal attempts by untrained individuals or software.
  4. User pulls the plug out, or a power outage causes the computer to shut down suddenly and improperly.
  5. User starts up the machine and can’t get past the BIOS screen, Windows won’t boot and or cannot find or read the media
  6. Plug in an external hard drive and can feel it spinning but Windows won’t mount the drive

In any of these cases operating system files, the master boot record, the MFT, or partition table has become corrupted or damaged. It is important to remember hardware failure may additionally be the culprit in some instances.

Still a Good Chance For Recoveryfile-folder-notfound-data-recovery

If the drive is not tampered with, immediately shut off, and no other attempts at data recovery are done to it, there is a VERY GOOD chance for a successful recovery by a professional recovery company.

What happens is most people in this scenario make it worse and actually destroy any chances for recovery by trying to recover the data themselves using software they find online. You can read more about that here.

We Can’t Stress it Enough

There are plenty of occasions where the damage originates with faulty or failing hardware. Many times people are misled thinking there is only logical damage, when in fact the logical damage was actually caused by a bad head or bad sectors on the platters.

Mis-judging the circumstances can cost you your data, as a successful recovery would then require a different set of procedures classifying it as a hardware level recovery.

#2 Mechanical or Physical Data Recovery

Mechanical or physical recovery is performed usually when there is an electronic failure or the internal hardware has been damaged or has failed.

bootmedianotfound

Is usually due to:

  • Device being dropped or knocked over
  • Sudden jolting of the computer or device
  • Improper transportation, storage, and handling
  • Damaged or broken hard drive from manufacturer
  • Degradation of moving parts
  • Power surges
  • Incorrect power supply
  • Improper power cycling of device
  • Improper installation or removal of device
  • Static electricity
  • Tapping or banging on the storage media
  • Poor or inadequate ventilation
  • Liquid damage
  • Fire damage

Almost always results in:

  • Bad sectors on the platters
  • Heads crashing on the platter
  • Motor failure
  • Damaged or scratched platters
  • Broken USB or other connectors
  • Bad or burnt components on PCB board
  • Corrupt firm ware
  • Spindle bearing seizure
  • SMART problems and errors
  • Drive not spinning up or down
  • Actuator failure

With the following symptoms:

  • Clicking noises
  • Beeping noises
  • Buzzing noises
  • Scraping noises
  • Dead hard drive
  • Hard drive not detected
  • Hard drive not recognized
  • Failed or failing hard drive
  • No power to hard drive
  • Cannot access data
  • Freezing and slow computer/device

Just about all the scenarios and situations that cause physical damage to a hard drive as they are covered in the bullets above.

Mechanical Data Recovery Requires the Experts

In every case where Physical data recovery is required, you will need a data recovery specialist who has access to at very least two, and in most cases all of the following:

hardware-level-mechanical-failure-data-recovery

  1. Hardware level imager
  2. Device capable of testing the firmware and service area
  3. Device capable of reading and writing to the firmware and service area
  4. Utility capable of doing a bit level raw recovery
  5. Clean room environment
  6. Engineer with enough experience inside a hard drive

If you make the mistake of mis-judging the type of damage you have to your drive, your data and chances for successful recovery will suffer more and more each second you apply incorrect retrieval methods.

Most of these concepts apply to USB Flash Drives, Solid State Drives, RAID Array including RAID 5 Arrays, and Mac Drives. Please call us for a free phone consultation on our toll free number, or you can submit your questions and problems securely right here.

DiscussionAre you or have you been experiencing any of these issues? Not sure about a particular sound, or situation? Have anything to add? Please add it to the conversation below!

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