Beware Do-it-Yourself Data Recovery Solutions and Products

First published April 2005

by ActionFront Data Recovery Labs

Do-It-Yourself data recovery software may complicate your problems and diminish the prospects of a successful recovery.

The object of many fix/doctor/repair programs is to try to make the drive, file-system or volume usable – not to recover existing data. Do not run any program or utility that writes to the affected media or changes it in any way, if you need your data back. The programs that do recover data are limited to addressing assumed scenarios, not necessarily your data loss situation with its unique aspects. In contrast, ActionFront technicians have knowledgeable colleagues with 13 years of expertise to call upon, as well as proprietary software, a full range of legacy and leading edge hardware and clean rooms available.

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Approximately 70% of single hard drive cases sent to ActionFront have some form of physical problem; hence the foundation of the ActionFront recovery process is making a “mirror” or copy of the media in question and performing all subsequent recovery activities on the mirrored copy. As the media in question may completely fail under repeated use, using this process increases the chances for a complete recovery and preserves the original media in case further access is required. Remember, there is no software that can overcome hardware failure.

Free Advice May Prove Costly!

There are numerous Internet sites offering advice about data recovery and unfortunately, the advice is often just plain wrong! Much of the advice pertains to configuration and installation issues, missing the point that most data loss situations involve the sudden inability to access data involving a previously functioning computer system or backup or the accidental erasure of data or over-writing of data control structures. Installation advice is irrelevant or harmful in these cases. Other typical errors include:

– No warning about handling and ESD issues.

– No guidance regarding what sort of noises are acceptable versus noises that indicate device failure. Drives that make ‘obvious mechanical fault noises’ should not be repeatedly powered on and tested: it just makes them worse.

– Advice to physically manipulate a problem drive such as “twisting it quickly”.

– Misleading information about Windows utilities and partitions.

The first, basic question of dealing with any media problem is “What would happen if I lost access to the data forever?” While following free advice may resolve the situation, it may severely compound the problem. Can you afford to take that risk?

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