When data becomes lost or inaccessible (not due to a breach) because a physical storage device has problems or has failed, or because the data is corrupt, companies better hope they have backups. Otherwise, if the data is in a damaged laptop or server, it may need to be salvaged and, hopefully, “fixed” by a professional data-recovery specialist.
Using a data-recovery provider should always be a last resort owing to the expense and the possible business interruptions caused by inaccessible data. Preventing data loss through backups and best practices is the best course of action.
Actively Reducing the Need for Recovery
A formal written data-management plan is the first step in avoiding the need for data recovery. Companies of every size must treat data as a hard asset that deserves protection. The management plan should detail the role of everyone in the organization when it comes to storing, sharing or accessing information. It should also include a list of all current data sources and how/when/where those sources will be backed up to the cloud or to servers on the premises. Storage costs continue to fall, and companies that aren’t backing up to AWS, Google or another provider are leaving themselves open to data loss and possible business interruptions.
Even with a robust data-protection plan, a company might have sales personnel save contracts on their laptops or a staff member record conference video on a DSLR. In either case, when data resides on a single device, accidents can happen. This is where data recovery comes in. Here are five tips for picking a recovery company.
1. Go With Reputation
Problems with hard drives or with portable memory cards and devices require expert assistance. Don’t go the DIY route, and avoid using free online software that promises results but may leave you with malware and frustration. A quality recovery firm will have a sterling reputation, be forthcoming with referrals and have many positive online reviews. It will have the right personnel and technology to open devices carefully and extract information safely.
2. Check Industry Certifications
Industry certifications aren’t a guarantee of competency (that’s why you check referrals), but they do point to overall adherence to processes and best practices. Data-recovery workers should be able to highlight their certifications for secure handling of data and recovery. Certifications add another layer of trustworthiness, which is especially important if the provider is handling personal data, medical information or other sensitive data. Ask to see the certifications before turning over your damaged drive.
3. Confirm the Provider Can Handle SSDs
Recovering data from a traditional laptop hard drive is fairly easy. You pop off the casing screws to expose the drive and other components, unscrew it from the board, and connect to the drive. Doing it yourself is still fraught with dangers, such as static electricity and accidental damage, but someone with technical expertise can handle it. For modern SSD drives, the process is much more complicated. These drives are thin and, in many cases, unscrewing the case to access the drive is nearly impossible. And the SSD will often appear to be permanently mounted to the board, further complicating matters. If you’ve lost data on an SSD, ensure your recovery firm has experience with these drives and knows how to access them without causing damage or permanent data loss.
4. Confirm It Can Handle Multiple Problems
Data resides in multiple types of devices and can be corrupted in multiple ways. This variety requires expertise on the part of data-recovery staff, who must know the right approach to a given problem. So if they’re trying to recover information from the SD card in a water-logged digital camera, they’ll take on a different approach than when dealing with a corrupted laptop. Talk to prospective recovery providers about their experience with different devices and occurrences such as fire and heat, water damage, power-supply issues, and physical breakage.
5. Review the Provider’s Ability to Deliver a Quality Customer Experience
When following up on referrals and looking at online reviews, pay close attention to ratings for customer service and the entire experience. You want a recovery provider that communicates transparently about your project, even if it has bad news for you. It’s reasonable to expect speedy and complete communication throughout every stage of your project. And if you choose a recovery provider that gives you a subpar service experience, don’t use it again. Your data is at stake, so you want recovery experts who are customer-service pros and treat every project with due care.
Although data recovery should always be a last resort, at times it’s inevitable. Workers use a range of devices to access, create and store data, and there’s always the chance they’ll drop a laptop or pour coffee on a tablet. When the corrupted or inaccessible data is important, it’s worth having on speed dial a competent recovery provider that can address the problem.
About the Author
David Zimmerman is CEO of LC Technology. He has been in the hardware/software industry for over 30 years and in the data-recovery-software market for 20 years. During this period, he has been involved in the creation, marketing and support of the earliest drive-recovery software to enter the PC market and successfully marketed them both nationally and internationally. David’s company makes data-recovery products for most of his competitors. His experience in the market has made him uniquely familiar with the data-recovery business.