Losing valuable data or documents is one of the worst situations you can find yourself in. It comes with a horrible sinking feeling that you may have lost many hours of your time or worse that you have lost vital business data that may be irreplaceable.
But whenever data is lost, there is always the possibility that it can be restored.
The ability to recover lost data is based on the fact that deleted data never actually disappears until it is written over. This means that in some cases, data can be recovered from many years ago, while in other situations you may permanently lose a file that was deleted only the day before.
What you do immediately after losing data plays a big role in determining whether the data can be partially or fully recovered or whether it is lost forever.
There are various ways that data can be lost including accidental deletion of a file, software corruption, hard drive damage or errors, and viruses/malware.
When a file is deleted or moved to the trash bin, it still actually exists on the hard drive but is merely assigned by the computer as being available to be overwritten.
So depending on how large your disk is and how often you use it, these “empty” spaces may remain unwritten for some time.
Knowing this, there are a series of steps that can be taken that can significantly increase the chances that the data can be recovered if data has been accidentally deleted or if an error has occurred on the hard disk.
- Maintain space on your drive - as a general rule, keep at least 20% of your hard drive free, which increases the chances of recovery as you lower the likelihood of your files being written over.
- Don’t execute any ‘write’ functions - when a file has been deleted or you notice that you are missing data, immediately stop any functions that may cause new data being written to your hard drive. This includes file creation, installation of software, editing, copying data etc.
- Do not reboot the drive - rebooting the drive decreases the chances of successful data recovery as rebooting causes the computer to write new files.
- Turn off your computer - you should turn off the system when you believe data has been lost and do not turn it back on.
- Don’t install new data recovery software - this follows on from the key action of not executing any new write functions.
- Don’t open the drive - if the drive is physically damaged, it is possible to repair it but only in a completely dust free environment and by a professional.
- Don’t attempt data recovery unless you are 100% confident in your ability - data recovery can be complex so using a professional will almost always result in a better outcome.
When you’ve lost data, follow the steps outlined above and then get in touch with an IT expert that can manage the data recovery process. The other key step you can take is to maintain your anti-virus software, which helps protect potential data losses from viruses or malware.
If you’re looking to recover data that is not vital, there are various types of data recovery software that you can use to try and recover the data yourself. However, you are still better off consulting an IT expert who can advise on the best software to use. This is because some types of software pose a far lower risk of overwriting the lost data as they create a virtual reconstruction of the hard disk file system in order to find the data stored within it.
For more information on how to best respond to data loss, talk to the professionals at FinXL who can guide you through the recovery process.