Once you’ve lost your data, it is much too late to worry about what you should have done. The only thing you can do is protect what you have before it is lost. The real secret to data loss recovery is backup. If you always have easy access to a backup of everything on your system you care about, you can never be said to have lost anything.
But if it was truly that easy, no one would ever lose anything. And that is clearly not the case. People lose data all the time without fully understanding what went wrong in the first place. If you can wrap your head around what causes data loss, you can be more focused on preventing it.
Data Recovery Strategies When All Else Fails
When you lose important data, there are only three things you can do to recover it. And one of those is out of reach for the average person. Here they are from easiest to hardest:
- Call an expert – Food Channel devotees are familiar with the phrase, Put it down and walk away. This is also excellent advice for when the computer starts making sickly noises and presenting the blue screen of death. There is data recovery software available to professionals who make a living recovering lost data. You can also purchase this software and do the process yourself. It is important to note that professionals have access to a lot more sophisticated tools. But using data recovery software will do the job much of the time.
- Grab as much data as you can – There is a point in a house fire when you realize that there is nothing you can do but run. At that point, you grab as much as you can on your way out the door. You grab the laptop, the dog (not necessarily in that order), the kids (definitely not in that order), and everything else you can hold. When it is clear your computer will have to go to the shop, you turn it on one last time, and start copying everything to a flash drive before it dies. Like a game show shopping spree, you only have limited time and limited space. Grab what you can while you can.
- Try to fix your damaged hard drive yourself – This is the one not accessible to most people. Don’t try this unless you know what you’re doing. However, if you do know what you’re doing, and have the necessary tools, hard drives are mechanical objects that can be restored to some semblance of health. Even so, once you get it working again, buy a new one, and transfer all your data as quickly as possible.
These tactics can help in a crisis. But the best thing is to avoid the crisis altogether.
You can purchase external hard drives for backup. But in the event of that fire we discussed, all is still lost. Offsite backup has become extremely popular. So it is important to review the best online backup solutions as well. The online backup solutions work well and keep you from ever losing anything again. But they have the following drawbacks:
- You pay a monthly fee
- You have to trust all your data to a third-party
- It takes a long time for initial upload and restoration.
- It can be a strain on your limited data cap
Most experts recommend a combination of onsite and offsite backup solutions.
Preventing Data Loss
There are three main drivers of data loss: hard drive failure, software corruption, and malicious software and exploits. The latter can be partially addressed by good internet security software. Always keep your operating system up to date. And if you keep your computer for more than four years, you should replace the hard drive periodically at the very least. You get very little warning before hard drives die.
You don’t want to be in a situation where you have to try to recover lost data. This is one of those times when an ounce of prevention is worth it’s weight in gold.