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Data Recovery – Can you recover from a hard drive crash?

Backing Up Your Data –

A hard drive crash is devastating for anyone who loses their files, and disastrous for any business that doesn’t have a back up plan

Imagine your computers hard drive has suddenly failed.

To put yourself in this situation may seem ludicrous, but imagine losing the ability to access any of your personal files, articles you have written, images from holidays, family archives, home accounts, bills, emails, personal information.

Try it! Turn off your computer and try and remember everything that you have stored on that spinning disc. Now imagine you cannot get it back, it’s gone forever. Now you’re getting the gist of the importance of backups.

There are so many options out there, it’s easy. External hard drives, cloud back up, USB sticks or even the simple writable CD. They’re all effective, and cost efficient too.

If you’re in business here’s a data loss-prevention exercise that any organization can run at little or no cost. Simply ask for some critical data to be restored from backup. If the test is successful, great. But the chances are very good that there will be issues. In fact, there are long-time IT consultants who have often asked but never seen data successfully restored from backup.

Organizations underestimate the length and fragility of the backup chain. First off, the data has to exist in a form that can be backed up. The backup hardware and software must be functioning correctly, and the media must actually capture the information. Somebody must cause the backup to be performed and the backed-up data must be, ideally, properly documented and moved to an off-site location. Finally, the data must be restored in a timely manner, so everybody can get back to work.

The list of things that can go wrong in that chain of events is almost endless. Ironically, the biggest enemy of regular, properly executed backups is the reliability and efficiency of today’s IT systems. That dependability means that restoring data from backup is rarely necessary. Unfortunately, systems that are seldom used tend to degradate over time and that is where the danger lies.

So, if nobody takes excuses from you, you can’t accept excuses from anybody else. If you have the responsibility for keeping systems up, running and productive, plain, old-fashioned fire drills are the only answer.

Remember the last time you lost a set of keys, your mobile phone fell out of your jacket, or your credit card was left at the local store. I know how panic stricken I was, and the sad thing is, the majority of us never back up our computers and yet its so easy.

Don’t just think about it, do it.

The Back-up clash

Cloud versus External Hard Drive

USB driveWith the days of having a locked filing cabinet to store all your important data now long gone, your modern-day options are the cloud and external hard drives. But, how can you know which is the right choice? Both have pros and cons and both involve some cost and risk.
We’ve broken down some key details of both to help you decide which is the right option for you.

Security

From a security point of view, an external hard drive is hard to beat. It’s in your possession, in safe place of your choosing and only yourself and those you allow, have access to it. A technology thief with a specific interest in hard drives aside, it’s safe in your hands.
If you store your data on the cloud, you’re handing your data over to a complete stranger, who may not be able to keep your data safe regardless of the measures they have put in place. Yes, online security and technology is improving all the time. But, the people who want that data are also consistently upping their game, making it a tough, ongoing battle.
We say: the external hard drive is the winner on security, for the moment at least.

Data portability and accessibility

This is a tough one.
A personal external hard drive is small and easily portable. It can also be connected and used regardless of whether or not there is an internet connection. But, if you don’t have the right cable or wireless operating system, then its contents are inaccessible.
The cloud, meanwhile, is available anywhere in the world where you can get online. You can access most cloud-based content from any device, provided you can remember your username and password, that is!
We say: the cloud wins on portability and accessibility, although it’s a close call.

Cost

When it comes to cost, you have to look at the different levels of data storage you require.
The price of personal external hard drives is lower than ever at the moment, which makes them financially inviting for storage between 50 gigabytes and up to 5-6 terabytes.
When it comes to the cloud, you can get free storage for up to 50 gigabytes from companies such as google, dropbox, SkyDrive and iCloud. You could use a few different ones and get a reasonable amount of online storage for free, or you can start paying for more storage from a single provider. It’s not a lot more than a hard drive, but, if you don’t spread your cloud storage around, it will be more expensive until you get to the really big numbers, terabytes. At that point it will be cheaper and more practical to opt for cloud storage.
We say: external hard drive wins for regular storage levels.

The winner is…

Based on our brief look at these three key details, it looks like the external hard drive is the winner! It’s a close call though and not always the right choice for everyone.
Another option, if you’re still not convinced, is to hedge you bets and use both. If you make use of the free cloud storage to double back up your most prized data files, then it’s a win, win. And, you can decide for yourself which works best for you.

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Helium Drive, the next revolution in data storage

The world of technology is advancing all the time. Sometimes things move quickly and your new gadget is out of date before you’ve barely gotten used to it! In the world of hard drives, things don’t tend to move so quickly. But, there’s a recent development that has already revolutionised the large-scale data storage market, that should soon be available direct to the consumer: the helium drive.

Helium, better than air

A helium drive is different from a ‘normal’ hard drive because it is encased in helium, rather than air. While that may not sound like something that should have a significant impact on data storage, it does.

The reason is that helium is a lot less dense than normal air, which is made up of a number of different gasses. That lower level of density means a helium drive can perform better than a traditional hard drive; it can spin faster and last longer while using less power and creating less heat.

That’s not all. The encasement used to keep the helium in place means there is a much lower chance that dust particles can enter into the filter systems associated with other hard drives. Those tiny dust particles can cause more damage than you might think to a hard drive, so this is another pretty big positive.

Those are among the main reasons behind a growing number of big companies and data storage firms switching to helium drives from more traditional hard drives.

So far so good

But, while there is talk of helium drives coming to the direct to consumer market, it’s unlikely to happen until one thing changes: pricing. At the moment, helium drives are a tad on the expensive side, which isn’t usually a good start if you want to enter the general consumer retail market. However, there are signs that this should change.
Western Digital subsidiary HGST, the company formerly known as Hitachi, was the first major producer of the helium drive. Early in 2016, however, Seagate began selling and shipping its own helium filled hard drives. And other firms are sure to follow. As with most industries, once a new trend, system or tech is proven, more firms find a way to get into the market. When more companies produce similar products, costs start falling.

Once more firms invest in this new technology, costs should start falling to levels considered low enough for the consumer retail market. Once that happens, then you can start using the same state-of-the art technology to store your important, personal data, in the same way big businesses and data storage centers do now.

Hard drive lifespan. A ticking bomb

Hard drive lifespan, the ticking time bomb.

Have you ever considered your hard drive lifespan. If not, read on. It might surprise you.

You’ve been using your carefully chosen PC for a couple of years now, and have experienced no problems at all. The warranty has just run out but as things are working well, there are no funny noises when you boot it up and it doesn’t seem to have slowed down at all, you’re happy.

But, while things are working well at two years old, you might want to consider the fact that the average lifespan for a PC’s hard drive has dropped to around 4-6 years. That could mean you have a good four years to go and don’t need to worry. Or, it might mean your half way through your PC hard drive’s life and need to ensure regular and appropriate back up.

In reality, regular and appropriate backing up of your hard drive should be something you do regardless of how old your PC is. And, you should always be vigilant where your hard drive is concerned, any unusual sound or function should be promptly investigated.

Hard drive related costs

As companies increasingly go digital, the use of technology has soared. That has helped encourage the development of new, faster and more reliable tech as well as more of the components that are required to build it. In turn, as more technology is being developed and improved, there is more competition on the market.

That combination of increased production of parts and technology has culminated in a number of changes. One significant change is that the cost of technology has been driven lower.

When prices come down, concerns can arise that the quality of the product might decline too. Due to the growing importance of technology – and the constantly growing market for it – this is less true for computer-related components than it might be of other industries. Although, because technology is updated so often and older components become out of date more quickly than they used to, there is likely some truth to that expectation, hard drive lifespan is one.

So, while a shorter hard drive lifespan means more frequent PC replacements, lower costs mean that while replacing your hard drive, or PC can be a pain, it isn’t as expensive as it used to be.

Data storage boom

Those lower technology-related costs have also fed through to data-storage fees. Demand for data storage and archiving, combined with suitable technology for it, has also helped to lower the price of data storage. From large-scale, off-site data storage business use, to personal storage devices for data files including photos and spreadsheets, you can get more for less.

In particular, external hard drives for personal home use, are cheaper than ever. But remember, those hard drives also have a shorter lifespan of around the 4-6-year mark. That means you’ll need to keep on top of your dates and provide replacements at regular intervals.

Think you can get around the shorter lifespan with a more expensive option? Think again. Rigorous testing of PCs, laptops and hard drives show that while some brands do perform better than the warranty states, the more expensive options rarely do better than the market standard.

See our frequently asked questions page for more information on hard drive failure.

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Transparent pricing is important

Many of our competitors offer ‘Free Quotes’ or ‘Free Evaluation’. Understanding that nothing is ever ‘free’ and that your quote will always include the cost of evaluating your device.

Corporate Data Recovery do not operate in this way because we believe that the customer needs an honest response to the pricing structure and each device has its own individual pricing structure based on the time it will take to test, repair, and recover data.

We know that the most important result is the successful recovery. Retrieving your data, know how much the cost will be, and achieving these objectives in the quickest possible time.

Go to our individual product pages where our pricing is 100% transparent. You can then decide whether ‘free’ really means free, or whether you prefer to send your valuable data to a company that places the same importance on trust as you do.

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Steps to take to recover your data

It’s every computer user’s nightmare. Your computer’s hard drive fails, taking down valuable data files along with it. You know it could happen to anyone at any time, but we all seem to think that it won’t happen to us!

Fortunately, in many cases, your data can be recovered, provided you take the right steps to protect against further damage. Here are some ideas that can minimize the damage and maximize the chances of getting your data back. Even if you’re planning on using a data recovery firm to recover your data, these tips will help!

1. Don’t Make Things Worse.

Like the Hippocratic Oath that doctors take, your first responsibility is to do no harm. Use your hard drive as little as possible until all your data has been restored. The more you use your hard drive, the greater the chance that your data will be overwritten. Don’t launch any unnecessary programs and don’t copy any more files onto your disk. You should even avoid browsing the internet until your files have been safely recovered.

2. Shut your computer down safely.

If you believe there is something wrong with your computer, shut it down as soon as you can. Don’t panic and keep trying different things to recover it right away. Stay calm and relaxed as much as possible, shut down your computer promptly, and get it to a professional as soon as you can.  Sometimes the fastest and best way to shut down your computer is just to cut power to it, which could be using the off button, or simply unplugging it (if you’re using a desktop).  If you use proper shut down procedures, the operating system may save the latest changes and overwrite your data.

3. Don’t try to take the hard drive apart yourself.

Unless you are a professional computer technician, the chances are very good that you’ll just cause more damage. Even if you don’t cause any physical damage, if the cover is taken off your hard drive, microscopic dust particles can get in and cause further problems. Data recovery professionals have laboratories where they ensure a dust and static free environment to complete your data recovery.

If you’re not taking your drive to a local data recovery firm, make sure that the drive is properly packaged for shipping. It is important to place the hard drive in an anti-static bag. Ideally, you should use the original packaging that your hard came in. If that’s not possible; use foam rubber as a wrap around the hard drive as this provides the best protection. Don’t use items such as newspaper or Styrofoam peanuts as they won’t secure your drive properly. Be sure that there are no empty spaces in the box which would allow the hard drive to move around and possibly suffer damage. Make sure you don’t drop your hard drive or expose it to extreme heat or cold.

4. If your computer is making unusual sounds, shut it down and don’t restart it.

Clicking, buzzing or grinding sounds can be a sign of serious damage to your computer. If this happens, shut it down right away and get your computer to a professional data recovery company.

5. Back up your files regularly.

This is probably obvious, but it’s something that many people fail to do. It’s easy to believe that this problem will never happen to you, but it can and does. Prevention is the key to minimizing the damage of losing your files. If your computer is currently running well, you can also install a data recovery program which may help retrieve your files in case you run into a problem later on.

6. Don’t give up.

Don’t just assume that it’s impossible to recover your data. Data recovery specialists can retrieve data from seemingly hopeless cases such as damage caused by natural disasters and severe damage due to water, fire, or smoke exposure. Just make sure that you get your hard drive to a reputable data recovery company as soon as you can so that they can do their best to retrieve your information. If your hard drive has been severely compromised, don’t even attempt to power up your computer, get it to a data recovery specialist as soon as possible.

Despite the inevitable frustration that comes with losing your data, if you stay calm and practice these recovery tips, in many cases you will still stand a good chance of getting your data back. When in doubt, get your hard drive to a data recovery company that has the knowledge and experience to recover your information properly.