Most data 'loss' is the result of logical failure , rather than mechanical failure. Nine out of ten times a drive comes into our facility for service, it is the result of logical falure. Many people do not understand the difference between logical and physical failure. This typically costs them lots of money, or they may choose the path-of-least-expense. This usually means they will lose their precious files, many years of work, precious memories, and precious records. We have always felt that this is unacceptable. So we are here to educate:
- Most data is 'lost' due to logical failure
- Logical failure can result from many causes, including viruses, malware, user-error
- Logical data is recoverable without drive disassembly
- Logical data recovery should be a fraction of the cost of physical recovery
- Consumers and businesses don't know the difference
- People will pay a great deal of money to recover data
- Un-educated people pay more (you are no longer un-educated)
- There are many organizations preying on ignorance
- The consumer has options
Shop for the Best
With the explosion of the Data Recovery industry, has come an invasion of less-than-competent-and-ethical players in the field. With the variety of organizations out there, it is wise to ask many questions before choosing a company to care for your files. Much the same way you are cautious when choosing childcare, you should assume most people do not share the same concern for your child, or your child's pictures as you do. This is a safe assumption.
When choosing a recovery professional, always ask questions. The response should be straightforward, honest and easy to understand. If you don't understand, ask to have it phrased in a way that you can understand. If that does not work, either:
- that person does not understand the process of data recovery
- does not care about you, and/or the question, and/or your business or data
- that person may be poorly trained, perhaps like the rest of the staff
- they may not have your best interests in mind (less-than-ethical)
Questions to Ask
- Who will perform the recovery? **
- What is their training?
- What is the cost of the recovery? **
- How will my data be returned?
- What is the time-frame? **
- Can I see what you have recovered before I pay? **
- Is there any guarantee?
- Can I get my drive back intact?
- Will you disassemble my drive?
- Will you charge me a different rate for logical vs. physical? **
- What is your success rate? **
- Why & how do you fail? **
If the organization can't or won't answer any or all of these questions, perhaps you should look elsewhere for assistance.
Terms - concepts the consumer should understand
Logical failure - easily confused with a bad drive, logical failures can show many symptoms, including but not limited to, failure to boot, unable to read partitions and files, unrecognizable by OS (no drive letter) This is typically the easiest failure to diagnose and repair and should cost a small fraction of an open-case evaluation. Can be caused viruses, malware, power surges and brown-outs. Some logical problems can have physical causes at their root (bad sectors, write-errors) and may still be recoverable with logical techniques and tools.
Physical failure - the most severe type, involves mechanical or electronic failure of the drive itself. Most physical problems are the result of damaged disk due to abuse, wear, and excessive write operations. Other damage occurs to the electronic controller card attached to the drive. Many time, despite the damaged drive, data can be recovered, in part or in whole thru the use of open-case techniques and tools. This is the most specialized recovery process, and therefore the most expensive. Less than 10% of drive failure fall into his category, yet victims pay the same amount to recover their data.
Data recovery - the act of finding data in a place where it was lost before. Most of the time (+90%) the data was lost due to a corrupt, master file table (MFT). This happens quite often, and many times is due to virus and malware damage, power issues during an MFT write operation, and sector flaws on the drive itself can cause the MFT to be corrupted and therefore unrecognizable. Other causes include: boot record failure, OS failure, and the worst and rarest form - mechanical, or physical failure. All these forms of data loss should be recoverable, given that the drive was not tampered with too extensively after the loss. For up-to-the-minute information on everything data, check out Disk Drive Planet for news you can use, and the cutting edge of data recovery.
Master File Table (MFT) - a file that is the key index of an NTFS volume. The corruption or scrambling of the MFT is the second leading cause of data loss currently. The corruption in the file table comes during write operations or other errors that may cause the table to be unreadable without special tools and training. This problem is relatively easily diagnosed and cured within a few hours.
Boot record - the primary cause of all logical errors, and thus also the primary cause of all data loss. This is one of the easiest and fastest techniques, and one of the most overlooked and potentially most costly overall because of ignorance of general public about the specifics and the truth about data recovery
Open-case - the worst case scenario for any data loss. This involves the physical opening of the drive case, and removal and repair of the read/write heads and actuator. This is the most complex, specialized, time-consuming and expensive of all the methods. It is also used to justify higher rates for all forms of recovery, including the non-invasive techniques of logical recovery, because most consumers don't understand the difference
Options - the consumer has many options when it comes to recovering data, including DIY options such as recovery software that will help identify lost records. Caution must be used when attempting a recovery on any system. The best way to prevent loss in any system is to 'mirror' the drive, or make a carbon copy of the contents. Never recover data TO the drive you are reading, this can cause further damage and loss. If you are not sure, always consult a professional