How You Can Prevent Data Loss

Data LossData loss is one of our industry's most misunderstood concepts. Very little information has been made public about data loss, and the information that does exist is inconsistent. Due to the mixed messages they receive, users find it difficult to properly evaluate their data loss situations and make educated decisions to recover their lost data.

Understanding Data Loss

Most "lost" data is not lost at all, it has simply become inaccessible to the user. Hundreds of thousands of gigabytes (GB) of data have been lost simply because users were not aware of their options and gave up hope of recovery.

While data may be inaccessible to you, our experiences indicate that approximately 95% of all inaccessible data can be recovered. This number approaches 100% if the drive is received before commercial utilities are exercised. Our data recovery experts have the ability to recover your data using proprietary techniques and tools developed through years of Research & Development.

How does a hard disk drive store data? Hard disk drives store data on one or more metal oxide platters. These platters, which spin at a rate of 3600-10,000 revolutions per minute, hold magnetic charges. A read/write head attached to an actuator arm actually floats on a cushion of air, 1-2 micro-inches (one millionth of an inch) above the surface of the platters. Data flows to and from these heads via electrical connections. Any force that alters this process may cause data loss to occur.

More data is being stored in smaller spaces. Fifteen years ago hard drives stored 40 Megabytes (MB) of data. Today's hard drives store up to 80 gigabytes (GB) on a smaller surface than the drives of a decade ago. Increasing storage capacities amplify the impact of data loss. As more and more data is stored in smaller and denser areas, mechanical precision becomes crucial.

As a part of this advancing technology, the drive tolerance (distance between the read/write head and the platter where data is stored) is steadily decreasing. A slight nudge, a power surge or a contaminant introduced into the drive may cause the head to touch the platter, resulting in a head crash. In some situations, the data residing in the area touched by the head may be permanently destroyed.

The current tolerance drives is 1-2 micro-inches (millionths of an inch). Comparatively, a speck of dust is 4-8 micro-inches and human hair 10 micro-inches. Contaminants of this size can cause serious data damage.

Backing Up Data

Backup technology and practices have failed to adequately protect data. Most computer users rely on backups and redundant storage technologies as their safety net in the event of data loss. For many users, these backups and storage strategies work as planned. Others, however, are not so lucky. Many of our customers back up their data, only to find their backups useless in that crucial moment when they need to restore from them. These systems are designed for and rely upon a combination of technology and human intervention for success. For example, backup systems assume that the hardware is in working order. They assume that the user has the time and the technical expertise necessary to perform the backup properly. They also assume that the backup tape or cartridge is in working order, and that the backup software is not corrupted. In reality, hardware can fail. Tapes and cartridges do not always work properly. Backup software can become corrupted. Users accidentally back up corrupted or incorrect information. Backups are not infallible and should not be relied upon absolutely.

Anti Virus Software

You should have an anti-virus software program installed on your computer. Period! Viruses that infect your computer can corrupt your files and make them virtually unaccessable. It is important to install a reputable anti-virus program that is automatically updated on a regular basis. You also need to make sure that it regularly scans your computer and hunts down any malicious files or programs on your computer caused by a virus.

There are many ways data can be lost on a hard drive, below are just a few.

Human Error

To find the biggest culprit behind data loss, we only have to look in the mirror. Every day users accidentally delete important documents, records and database files. Sometimes the error is as simple as choosing the File > Save option, over the File > Save As option. Other times, users may reformat a hard drive without backing up critical data. Still other times, a user may delete a file then prematurely empty the recycle bin.

Fortunately however, hard drive recovery is generally easy when files are deleted as a result of human error. Many store bought utilities can help you retrieve lost files as long as the data hasn't been overwritten or corrupted.


Software viruses are some of the worst corrupters of hard drive data. Worms such as W32.Klez and W32.MyLife, can overwrite or delete many of the files on your hard drive. To make matters worse, if not properly removed from your system, these worms can attach themselves to files on your computer, and re-execute themselves when you open an infected file.

Damaged or Corrupt Cluster

Hard drive clusters can become damaged for a number of reasons. Failing to shut down your computer properly, is one reason clusters may become corrupt. Another reason, is that your system hangs or crashes while writing information to the disk.

Physical Damage

Sometimes data loss occurs because the hard drive is physically damaged. This may be the result of a head crash, or the result of a disk's surface being scratched, contaminated, or demagnetized in some way. The sectors in your hard disk can be damaged by jarring, magnets, or contaminates such as cigarette ashes. A damaged sector on a hard disk can result in a multitude of computer problems and hard drive recovery headaches. Windows' ScanDisk, however, is capable of doing a surface scan to check for physical damage. If ScanDisk finds a damaged sector, it marks that area as unusable, and will "quarantine" that area so that it will not cause any future difficulties.

Few computer issues can be as trying and as fear-inducing as data loss. Lost files can lead to losing business, wasting time and expense, and/or personal anguish. Do you really want to trust a formulaic one-size-fits-all program to fix this problem? It is not uncommon for cheap data recovery tools to make matters worse. Data loss is problematic on its own; do not compound the error by allowing a low success rate program to run roughshod over your hard drive. When you need to get back lost data, you want professionals who have the experience and talent that is at the top of the industry. Contact Data Recovery Group today and one of our professionals will work with you to determine your best options and develop a plan to get your files back!