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Articles Computers Data-Recovery >> View Article

By: Chris Gillen
The best defense against data loss, caused by damage or theft or anything else, is a solid and well-enforced backup regimen whereby you save your important documents to at least one set of reliable media. This should be your immediate goal, right after you pick the right recovery software and get your data back, of course. The following tips are in the general order with which you will approach the issue.
1. Know the lingo - Is your computer a PC or a Macintosh, or even a garage-made "Linux box"? Can you explain what you have and what happened to it? Does you hard drive refuse to boot, or is the OS (Operating System) malfunctioning? Is the problem with the hard drive, your backup CDs or DVDs, a tape drive or something else? Can you (and your employees) describe to an in-house our outside IT or computer professional what happened, on what kind of system, with what kind of software running? You may wish to write all of these tidbits down so that you don't waste time when you do suffer an always-unforeseen data loss.
2. Consider your responsibilities - If you are responsible for an office full of computers, you may want a recovery program that can be run remotely by a network administrator. If you are in a one-person office, never mind that, but make sure you know what it is you need to recover and from where. If you do not have the original discs that your software came on, and haven't backed it all up, you will need to recover not only documents but programs. And if you have gotten this far into things without owning your legitimate copy of your OS, now's the time to get it. The OS is about the most difficult thing to recover in operating condition after a bad crash.
3. Know your abilities (and others') - If you are not computer-savvy, this will definitely affect your choices. You can choose a "dummy"-type package, but if you don't understand even how it works, you are liable to make costly mistakes. If you have some computer smarts, you should be able to use the more sophisticated software, which will not only be more powerful but more customizable to your particular situation.
4. Know your time constraints - If you are too busy to take lunch most days, you probably don't have a day or two to spend searching hard drives with software tools and figuring out how to recover your lost data. In this case, you may want to get a package that automates as much of the process as possible. However, you are not going to be able to just push a button and get your data back, you will have to spend some amount of time going over the search results and determining how to proceed with recovery.
5. Consider vendor costs - You will likely get at least 80% of your data back if you use a professional service, but the costs range widely. Although the aim is to get you matched up with a software utility that is in your budget and at your level of expertise, it would be irresponsible not to mention data recovery services. If you do not have the time or the expertise, or any employees who do, a paid recovery service is something you may have to consider. Be aware that simple recovery of data from drives with "bad directories" is far simpler and less costly than retrieving data from physically damaged drive platters. Know what you are getting into, and be able to explain to any outside help (paid or not) exactly what they are getting into, as well.
6. Seek a long-term solution - This means being prepared the next time that this "once in a lifetime event" occurs. Actually, some degree of hard drive failure usually happens once or twice per year to average users, but catastrophic failure is still somewhat rare, although a daily occurrence considering the millions of PCs (and Macs) in the world. The first part of the long-term solution is, of course, to back up your data daily, and if you are running a business, you should have multiple backups with at least one of them offsite.
7. Double up for the long term - There may be times when you lose data that has not yet been backed up, or are using a rented or loaned computer, so the other part of the long-term plan is to have one or two different recovery packages around. Why? For reasons that are still somewhat mysterious even to those who write these kinds of articles, one recovery package may find more files that another, but not be able to recover them as completely, or at all. It is best to cover all the bases, so read a stack of reviews, send inquiries to tech bloggers and otherwise troll the Internet for advice on which two recovery packages to buy. The price tags are usually not too high, and you should "double up" for your own security unless you are pleading poverty. Of course, you might want to consider just what all your data is worth!About Author:Dial-A-Geek.ca provides Kelowna BC Computer Service to people in their homes and businesses. Visit them online to learn more about their fully automated online data backup service.
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