Hard disk ruined or deleted: what to do?
One of the biggest fears of those who use a computer every day for work or leisure is the loss of data stored on their hard disk. In fact, it can happen that, accidentally, the hard disk partition containing our data, folders and documents is damaged or even completely deleted. The same thing can happen with other mass storage devices such as USB sticks, external hard drives, camera and cell phone memory cards, and so on. The causes of this failure are very different: in some cases mechanical damage may have occurred to the hard disk, or the damage could be minor and caused by data corruption within a physical mass memory. If these unfortunate events should occur, it is necessary to resort to data recovery, also known as "data recovery " . In most cases, data loss is due to the inaccessibility of the contents of the hard disk, caused by damage to the operating system. In this situation, the quickest and by far most recommended method is to boot the computer using a special Live CD. This medium contains a very particular operating system which, thanks to its characteristics, can be started and run even without installing it on the hard disk. This operating system is started in "live" mode, which makes massive use of the RAM and therefore allows access to data. Thanks to Live CDs it is possible, once the system is started, to make a copy of this data on a storage device such as a USB stick or an external hard disk. Data recovery allows not only to recover data deleted on the hard disk due to failures, malfunctions and damage, but also to restore what the PC user has accidentally deleted from DVDs, CDs, memory cards, USB peripherals and others supports.
Software to recover data from a hard disk
Currently there are numerous specific software to recover data that has been accidentally deleted from the hard disk. Some are paid, while others are free and can be easily downloaded from the internet. Unfortunately, it must be said that most of these programs are only able to function if the user actually has access to the hard disk and, in detail, to the partition in which the data is contained. Some of this software is specific to recovering lost partitions, or for situations in which it is impossible to boot disks. These software are in fact capable of recovering the file system, reconstructing the boot sectors (FAT16/FAT32, etc.) and performing many other functions. An example of these programs is TestDisk , a useful open source software made in several versions that can work with any operating system. Other free software for recovering data from hard disk are:
- Recuva : an easy-to-use software that allows you to recover accidentally lost data from your hard disk and is also available in a "portable" version that does not require installation.
- File Repair : Useful and powerful software that allows you to repair corrupt files. After performing a scan of these files, the program allows you to extract the data into a new working file.
- Disk Digger – The program allows you to recover data from hard drives, memory cards, USB sticks and all data storage media. The software is currently only available for Windows (XP, Vista and 7).
Experts in data recovery from hard drives
If do-it-yourself doesn't work and you are unable to recover the data from the hard disk, not all is lost: it is in fact possible that specific IT skills and particular tools are needed that only professionals in the sector have at their disposal. A good solution is to contact a computer assistance center, remembering that if your device is still under warranty the costs incurred for repair and restoration could be covered. In fact, it may happen that hard disks and memory peripherals may have left the factory already "defective", and in this case the manufacturer assumes full responsibility for their repair (or replacement). In addition to the classic assistance centers or professional IT technicians who work on their own, a third opportunity is offered by specialized companies. These companies represent the pinnacle of IT knowledge regarding data recovery from hard drives and can succeed even where others have failed. Obviously, turning to structures of this type also involves considerable costs, therefore it is a good idea to evaluate the cost/benefit ratio and possibly get a quote (in many cases free) before proceeding with the recovery. In this sector, one of the world's leading companies is Ontrack® Data Recovery , which has been working in the data recovery, computer forensics and secure deletion sector for over 25 years.
Prevent data loss
As a famous slogan said, and as common sense can confirm, even in the case of one's archived data, "prevention is better than cure". In fact, if losses or deletions are to be taken into account by anyone who uses IT devices, it is also true that there are many ways to archive everything that is important to avoid finding oneself in unpleasant situations. First of all, it is advisable to make frequent backups of the data contained in your computer, for example by saving them on peripherals or removable devices (e.g. external hard drives, USB sticks, DVDs…). Obviously, these devices must be kept in a different place than the computer, to avoid that, for example, theft or damage puts them both out of use. For example, you can take your PC to work, but leave the external hard drive at home; carry the computer in a bag, but keep the USB stick with the saved data in a jacket pocket, and so on. However, the question may arise spontaneously at this point: what to do if one of these storage devices causes problems? A great help in this case comes from the internet. In fact, simply by carrying out a search online, you can find dozens and dozens of sites specializing in online backup. Many of these sites offer different usage options: for basic users the service is usually free but places limitations, for example on the maximum amount of data that can be stored. For professional, or "premium" users, upon payment of a subscription it is possible to store much larger quantities of data. The advantage of these online archiving systems, in addition to their undoubted practicality and cost-effectiveness, is the possibility of accessing them from any computer on the planet, provided that it is obviously connected to the internet.
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