The best defense against a loss of data is a really solid and faithful backup routine of important files to reliable media. It's also a good idea for the media to be removable and portable if possible so that even if something happens to your whole computer for any reason, the data is protected by being in a totally different physical area.
OK, so that is the best solution to data loss. But what if you have not been backing up your drive like you should and now you find yourself confronted with the daunting task of getting all the important files back that were on your computer before the emergency happened? (By the way, you can take some comfort in knowing that quite a few people find themselves in this situation. You are not alone.) What are your choices at this point?
Well, basically there are two ways of recovering data from a damaged disk, either by using a data recovery service or a data recovery software package. Either can do the job, but there are some factors that should go into your decision about which one to use. First, are you pretty computer savvy? If you are then maybe data recovery software will work for you. If not, do not try this method at all. The other is how much time do you have to spend on retrieving this data? If you have lots of time to put into it, then consider doing the job yourself with a reputable software package. If you don't have much time to devote to this endeavor, don't waste both time and money with the software option.
If you have decided upon using a data recovery service, you should know that the odds are that you will get a good portion, if not all of your data back. The generally accepted success rate in the industry is around 80%. Much of the success will depend on the skill and determination of the data recovery specialist who will be working on your drive. They all have sophisticated software tools to work with, but data recovery is not as simple as just plugging in a piece of software, walking away and coming back when it has found all the files. It often requires a specialist who is a bit of a detective, andnot easily discouraged, to get back a good portion of data, especially on drives with physical damage.
Don't be surprised to get two quotes for data recovery from some companies either. One for logical data retrieval that is much easier to handle and will be a much lower figure, and one for physical damage which is far more challenging and therefore rightly costs more. You will also find that cost quotes will often vary considerably. It is usually best to choose somewhere in the middle of the pack toward the higher end. The reason for this is that some companies engage in a bait and switch tactic that indicates that they will cost less initially, but when they actually receive the drive they wil claim that upon review the cost will be much higher. It's best to avoid messing with these companies at all.
So if you have lost data and have no backups to fall back on, data recovery can still be done. Just use the guidelines presented in this article for choosing the data recovery method that will work best for you.
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