There are two main options when it comes to data recovery, and the method that is best for your situation will vary depending on your specific circumstances. For deleted or missing files, reformatted drives, or when a drive fails to boot, software data recovery can be used as the first method of approach. If a device has been dropped or already shows signs of physical failure such as grinding, clicking, or buzzing noises, or if data recovery software indicates the device may be failing due to slow read access, a professional hard drive service will be the safest method for recovery. To learn more about these methods of data recovery, read on, as each is discussed in it’s own section.
Data Recovery Software
Data Recovery Software can be used for logical recovery, which refers to any data loss scenario that is not caused by physical failure of the storage device. If your data has disappeared from your device unexpectedly, has been lost by deletion, device reformatting, or a device failing to boot, logical file recovery can be performed.
With software like Data Rescue from Prosoft Engineering, you can perform recovery by searching through the free and used space of the storage device for known file patterns. Using their demo version will allow you to perform a full scan of any storage device you have lost data from. Once the software has finished scanning your device, it will present a file listing and allow you to preview any file to verify that it can successfully be recovered with the software before purchase.
Especially for deleted files, but for other types of loss as well, it is important to preview the files you would like to recover to verify that they are valid. This is due to the nature of file storage and deletion on modern operating systems. When a file is deleted, the actual data (think 0s and 1s) of that file is still on your drive, but the filename is removed from the file list or directory of the storage device. This means that the device will now consider the data location as free space that new data can be written to.
At this point, until new data is overwritten on top of that same location, a data recovery software can recognize specific file patterns based on their type and file header. Regular computer use as well as downloading or saving new files to your device will gradually begin to fill your drive’s free space, including the locations of previously deleted files. Knowing this, you will want to minimize use of the device until you are able to run a data recovery software.
If you have a device you know is physically damaged, or if at any point the software reports read errors when trying to access the data on the device, you will need to have the device evaluated by a professional data recovery service for the best chance of recovery.
Data Recovery Service
Data Recovery Services such as Prosoft Engineering’s sister company, The Data Rescue Center, perform what is called physical data recovery. Clicking, grinding, or buzzing sounds coming from a rotational hard drive are a clear sign of physical failure, and the device should be disconnected immediately to prevent further damage. As mentioned, data recovery software can also detect potential drive failure and will recommend data recovery services in such cases.
Physical data recovery involves making repairs or replacing the damaged or failing components of a drive in a cleanroom environment, after which a clone of the device is made to a healthy hard drive of the same capacity. Professional-level recovery tools are then used to extract the data and place it onto healthy return media device. The data will never be placed back onto the original device, nor will the device be fully repaired for use. Tests show that a drive that has failed is generally unreliable for future use, even following a successful repair and data extraction process.
Most data recovery services, including The Data Rescue Center, will provide a free evaluation of the device prior to performing the services described above. After being provided with a diagnosis and quote for the recovery of your device, you can determine if you would like to proceed with the recovery attempt.
The Data Rescue Center also offers a no-data-no-charge policy, meaning if they are unable to recover the data for any reason following your approval, you will not be responsible for the quoted amount for recovery. This is important to look for when choosing from various service providers, as there is no way to guarantee a successful recovery prior to making the actual recovery attempt due to the nature of the physical recovery process.
It is also important to ensure the service provider conducts their services in a cleanroom environment to prevent damage to your drive’s data platters through dust and other contaminants. Ask a potential data recovery service provider if they perform their evaluations and recoveries in a Class 100 cleanroom, such as the one located at The Data Rescue Center’s facility, and be wary of any providers that do not offer such services for the protection of your device and data.