Despite the increasing reliability of storage devices, data can be lost very easily. From hardware malfunctions to corrupted files and viruses; there are plenty of ways your valuable data can be lost. However, secure data recovery ensures your files can be restored and transferred to a safe location.
Using varied techniques and processes, data recovery experts can access the digital information that’s seemingly unrecoverable. If you want to find out how secure data recovery works and what it can do for you, this article will tell you everything you need to know.
What is Secure Data Recovery?
When digital information is lost or missing, secure data recovery offers a way to get it back. Quite simply, when you’re unable to access a file or folder on your system, data recovery processes ensure that your information can be restored.
However, secure data recovery isn’t just about locating lost, hidden or damaged digital information. In order to be effective, data recovery must restore your data to a useable format. If data has been damaged, for example, expert technicians may need to restore in piece-by-piece or repair the damage that’s been caused.
In doing so, secure data recovery can enable you to access crucial information that’s been lost. Furthermore, with secure data recovery, you can ensure that your recovered data is undamaged and free from potentially harmful viruses, malware or ransomware.
Once your digital information has been successfully restored, it can be saved to a secure location. If the original disk used to store the data has been irreparably damaged, for example, your data can be recovered and saved to a new location. This enables you to use your data and mitigates the risk of subsequent losses by highlighting the fault which has caused the data loss.
What Causes Data Loss?
Operating systems and software have various in-built mechanisms to try and protect against the loss of the data. Temporary files and autosave features can help to avoid data loss, for example. Despite this, there are still a myriad of ways digital information can be damaged, corrupted, misplaced or obscured.
If you accidentally hit delete instead of save, you may assume that your digital information is gone forever. Whether you’re working on an important business document or implementing complex data, absentmindedly pressing ‘delete’ is easy to do. Fortunately, it is possible to recover deleted content in most instances.
In order to find data that has been deleted, it’s important to identify exactly what system setup you’re using. When files are deleted, the way in which they’re discarded can vary depending on which file system you’re using.
In Windows, for example, NTFS and FAT file systems are commonly used. Although there are significant differences between these two systems, the basic premise of file deletion is the same. When you initially hit delete, the corresponding file won’t automatically be erased, destroyed or discarded.
Instead, the system recognizes this previously used space as free; meaning the space could be used to save another, unrelated file. In an NTFS file system, an indicator file is unmarked when deletion occurs, whilst a FAT file system a HEX E5h special character is used to replace the first character of the file name. This tells the system that the file can now be ignored because the user has deleted it.
Similarly, in Linux or Unix, the file descriptor is erased upon voluntary deletion, but the actual data isn’t. Whilst it will be marked free and can be overwritten, the data itself remains despite the file descriptor being removed.
Crucially, your file won’t actually be permanently erased or deleted until it’s overwritten. Unless the space is used to save something else, your digital information should still be present and recoverable.
Of course, this isn’t necessarily straightforward. Often, data is stored in a piecemeal fashion, rather than as one, whole file or folder. Known as ‘clusters’, where and how these pieces of data are distributed determines how easily the file can be restored.
As the user-led file deletion has essentially removed the signposts to the data, expert technicians must examine slack spaces and unallocated space to determine which parts of the data remain on the hard drive and where they are.
When you purchase a new hard drive, it will usually be formatted in either NTFS or FAT. However, you can choose to reformat a drive at any time. Unfortunately, this commonly results in the accidental loss of data. If you don’t realize that reformatting a disk will wipe the data, for example, you may lose everything before you’re able to cancel your instruction.
Typically, formatting a drive means that the file is emptied and overwritten. In some instances, an overwrite may occur in the same place as your data was previously stored. However, if you format a drive with a different file system, overwriting may occur in a different location.
Reformatting a disk can make secure data recovery tricky. However, with expert insight and the right tools, it may be possible to restore your digital information. Depending on exactly what processes you’ve instigated, technicians can examine whether full formatting and overwriting has occurred and determine whether any of your data is retrievable.
This occurs when a hardware or software crash causes file system structures to be interrupted. Whilst a file system crash itself can cause logical damage, most systems are able to cope with this type of disturbance. For hardware crashes, in particular, the results can be catastrophic.
If an anomaly with the hardware causes a piece of data to be stored incorrectly, for example, it won’t necessarily damage only the data in question. Instead, it can cause significant harm to the file system itself. When file system structures are destroyed and object links are broken, the entire system becomes unreadable.
Essentially, this type of damage may mean that you’re unable to access any digital information stored on a particular drive. With many drives holding upwards of 1TB of data, it’s not surprising that so many people require secure data recovery services when this type of malfunction occurs.
Loss of partition information
If you receive an ‘fdisk’ or ‘user’s error’, it may indicate that information has been lost. This usually occurs because information relating to the size and/or location of a particular petition cannot be found. As a result, the system is unable to retrieve your digital information.
Partitions may be lost if the Master Boot Record is modified or erased. As this contains details of all disk partitions, any damage to it could result in you being unable to access specific partitions or even entire disks.
Depending on exactly what type of damage has occurred, there’s a good chance that experienced technicians will be able to recover your data following this type of error. By restoring the Master Boot Record, for example, information relating to each partition can be found and the system will then be able to access your data once again.
Although components and consumables are increasingly hardwearing and long-lasting, they’re not invincible. In some cases, wear and tear, an accidental drop or overheating could shorten the lifespan of your hardware. You may even find that your hardware develops a previously unknown fault which puts you at risk of data loss.
Although storage failure can occur for various reasons, data recovery specialists can often recover all or part of your digital information. Whether an external hard drive needs to be remounted or data needs to be carefully reconstructed from fractional clusters, the right expertise and experience will give you the best chance of regaining access to your digital information.
How to Restore Your Data
As soon as you realize data loss has occurred, it’s important to seek help straight away. Whilst the success of secure data recovery will depend on the type of loss which has occurred, as well as the severity of the damage, it’s always best to address data loss as quickly as possible.
It’s essential that overwriting doesn’t occur until all of your data has been recovered. Once overwritten, data can’t be restored, so it’s important not to inadvertently overwrite a disk and make the situation work. By contacting a specialist technician, you can obtain immediate instructions to try and protect any remaining data and begin the process of secure data recovery.
The first thing to assess is what type of data loss has occurred. Although a technician will be able to evaluate this upon examining the drive, it may be useful if you can provide any additional details. If the data disappeared after you launched specific software or following an error message, for example, tell your technician immediately. This could give them the crucial information they need to restore your data as quickly and as fully as possible.
Depending on the nature of your business, your digital information may be heavily encrypted. Although this isn’t necessarily a barrier to effective data recovery, it can make the process more complex. Whilst any type of secure data recovery should be carried out by an experienced engineer, it’s particularly important to seek expert help if encrypted or sensitive digital information has been lost.
As highlighted above, data isn’t always erased completely, even when it appears to have been deleted. By seeking expert help quickly, you can prevent the permanent deletion of your data and have it restored. Whilst it may be tempting to try DIY data recovery methods first, this could lead to further disk damage and may result in the complete loss of your digital information. Due to this, it’s advisable to seek professional advice and assistance, rather than trying to restore data yourself.
Recovering Useable Data
In some cases, data may have been lost due to suspicious activity, such as a virus or malware. If so, it’s important to ensure that restored data does not pose a risk to other systems, disks or files.
Once restored, your data will be saved to a secure location. However, if the lost data is carrying a virus, you don’t want to simply keep using the data and inadvertently damage other parts of your system. When you opt for secure data recovery, you’re not just retrieving the digital information you’ve lost. By using secure data recovery services, you can ensure that any recovered data is clean of potentially harmful viruses and is ready to use.
Preventing Data Loss
Although secure data recovery is an extremely important process, preventing data loss can be even more advantageous. Whilst no-one intends to lose valuable digital information, it can happen very easily. However, there are a range of ways you can minimize the risk of data losses and mitigate the damage such a loss can cause to your systems and your business.
By working with experienced engineers and taking advantage of managed IT services, you can ensure that your systems are working properly. This helps to prevent data loss caused by malfunctioning hardware and software.
Similarly, protocols can be implemented to help minimize the risk of data loss due to human error. Appropriate user permissions can be enforced, which only allows certain users to delete files, for example, and autosave features can be enacted and customized across all software. Additionally, hourly, daily or weekly backups to cloud servers ensure you always have access to up-to-date digital information, should the worst happen.
Furthermore, managed IT services will ensure you are able to contact an expert engineer in the event of suspected data loss. When time is of the essence, having immediate access to experienced technicians is crucial.
In addition to this, implementing a strategic disaster recovery plan ensures your data can be restored as quickly as possible when something does go wrong. When your business is reliant on your in-house systems and data accessibility, any delay can be extremely costly. As well as reducing productivity and outputs, the reputational damage caused by data loss can be significant.
With increasing data legislation, it’s becoming increasingly important to have robust data management and secure data recovery strategies in place. If you want to find out more about data loss prevention or secure data recovery, get in touch with us today. Call NetStandard at 913-210-1968 for expert help and assistance.