You have multiple projects on your mind at any given moment, which means that your data recovery plan often falls to the bottom of the to-do list. In fact, a recent study by Symantec found that 57 percent of small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) have no disaster recovery plan. Yet, SMBs experience an average of six outages a year, with the top reasons being cyber-attacks, power failures and natural disasters.
Planning ahead for a data disaster may seem like a tedious task, but with the right knowledge and a solid action plan, you can prevent a complete data loss.
So where do you start? Consider the following recommendations that can help you recover your data when catastrophe strikes.
1. Plan for the worst
Create an emergency action plan for your data. This plan should include a complete inventory of your storage-based hardware. In addition, this is an excellent time to research a data recovery vendor. By conducting this research ahead of time, when you aren’t distressed from a data loss, you can ensure that you’re working with a reputable, secure data recovery vendor. When researching a data recovery vendor, ask about that vendor’s manufacturer authorization to open drives without voiding a warranty, as well as security and industry certifications.
You should also think about purchasing a data recovery service plan when you purchase new hardware. For example, Newegg offers data recovery service plans when you purchase selected storage devices (hard drives, laptops, etc). Through a partnership with DriveSavers Data Recovery, plans are available in one, two or three-year periods. If you experience a data loss within the coverage time period, a data recovery service plan can save you thousands of dollars.
2. Always backup and protect
The best protection is prevention. Invest in redundant backup system. Establish a structured backup procedure to make copies of all critical data files, using software compatible with the operating system and applications. Periodically test the backups to verify that data, especially databases and other critical files, are being backed up properly. Keep at least one verified copy of critical data offsite.
It’s also critical that you use up-to-date software programs for data security, such as firewalls and virus protection. Never assume that your computer is protected from incoming viruses because you have protection software; all incoming data should be scanned for corruption. By equipping your computer with backup software and virus protection, you will drastically decrease the chances of losing important files.
3. Data missing? Don’t panic
Sometimes the simplest of answers can be the ultimate solution. If you can't find a file, double-check to ensure you haven’t misplaced it. Use the search box located in “Start” button on the bottom tool bar of your computer. If your file doesn’t appear using the search function, look in the recycle bin or trash on your computer’s desktop.
4. Leave it to the professionals
It is certainly important to watch every nickel and dime and understand where priorities lie when spending money on vendors. But a "do it yourself" approach shouldn't apply when it comes to your losing your data. Do not attempt recovery your data personally by using any type of diagnostic or repair tools. Doing so may cause further damage or permanent data loss. Remember, the first recovery attempt is the most successful. Play it safe and send hardware to a professional.
But before you trust a data recovery service provider with your data, do your homework and research the vendor. Cheap services are typically that way for a reason. Make sure the data recovery vendor is reputable by checking for proof of industry certifications and security protocols.
5. Know your recovery ABC’s
Recognizing the signs of a drive failing will help you optimize your chances for recovery. If you hear clicking, grinding or whirring sounds, shut down your computer immediately and do not use data recovery or utility software. The use of data recovery or utility software can potentially cause data loss.
Next, unplug the power to the computer before removing the hard drive. Hard drives are extremely sensitive to static electricity and physical jarring.
Also, do not power up a device that has obvious physical damage or is making unusual sounds.
Lastly, turn in your hardware to the reputable data recovery provider that you researched in your emergency action plan.
If you are interested in seeing how hard drives work and crash, DriveSavers has an online Hard Drive Simulator that you can test out.
Chris Bross is strategic technology alliance manager at DriveSavers, a firm specializing in certified secure data recovery. Since joining DriveSavers in 1995, Bross has engineered his way around physical trauma, mechanical damage and encryption issues found on all types of failed storage devices to successfully recover millions of byes of lost digital data for customers around the world. Today, his focus is managing relationships with leading solid state drive (SSD) manufacturers and leads the efforts for DriveSavers R&D team. His work is helping DriveSavers develop new tools, technology and techniques that are overcoming data recovery challenges on SSDs, smartphones, tablets and other emerging data storage devices.
Photo used with permission from Shutterstock.com.