Data recovery 101

Watch this on demand webinar to learn the basics of data recovery.

Peter Robinson

The mysteries of lost data

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Self-assessment tool

If you’ve experienced a data loss, this easy to use tool offers a free assessment on what to do next to have the best chance of recovering your data.

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All hard drives fail

Hard drives, like most things, have a lifespan, and like many things, you may not be able to know when a hard drive is about to fail.

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Tips to protect your data

Use regular backups

Back up data at least once a week with reliable tapes or other storage devices, always verifying that the correct data is backed up.

Use an uninterruptible power supply (UPS)

In the event of a surge of electricity or lightning strike, a UPS protects the computer from becoming damaged. In addition, it has a battery backup that keeps the computer running, allowing you to save the data and avoid any loss. Alternatively, a surge protector is also a good investment.

Prevent your PC from overheating

Before leaving for vacation, turn off and unplug your laptop or desktop computer.

Run a virus scan regularly and update it four times a year

Computer viruses are one of the worst enemies to data protection. Good anti-virus software tests their system for sequences of code unique to each known computer virus and eliminates the infecting invader.

Check the room temperature

Extreme heat can result in the premature failure of hard drives, while low humidity combined with dust in drought conditions can promote static electricity issues with electrical components. Adjust temperature and humidity control systems accordingly during changing weather conditions.

Be aware of strange noises

In the event of strange noises or grinding sounds, turn off the computer immediately and call your data recovery provider. Further operation may damage their hard drive beyond repair.

Invest in air conditioning

If you are dealing with larger servers, make sure that they have adequate air conditioning. Increases in computer processor speed have resulted in more power requirements, which in turn require better cooling, especially during the summer months.

In the event of data loss, simply contact one of our highly-trained Ontrack Data Recovery specialists to discuss the solutions available.

Tips for a successful data recovery

The following tips are for safeguarding data against additional damage in the event of data loss. Perhaps the most important tip is to never assume that data is irrecoverable. Professional data recovery services offer the expertise and tools required to recover data quickly and successfully.

This can manifest itself in many ways including clicking, grinding, spinning or other strange noises. To help reduce further data loss:

  • Do not shake, disassemble or attempt to clean any hard drive or server that has been damaged – improper handling can jeopardise the data recovery process
  • Never attempt to operate any visibly damaged devices
  • Turn off computer immediately – further operation may damage data beyond repair
  • Do not use recovery software since it may destroy what was otherwise recoverable data
  • Do not place a fire-damaged drive in refrigerator to cool media and do not try to remove hard drive – ship the entire computer for recovery
  • Never attempt to dry water damaged media  by exposing it to heat. Instead, place the media in a container that will keep it damp before shipping
  • Users may see messages such as "No OS found", "Corrupt Volume" or may simply be missing files and folders
  • Shut the computer down immediately. The longer a damaged hard drive is left running, the more data that can be irretrievably lost
  • Do not run FSCK or CHKDSK file system repair tools on a virtual disk unless a good backup has been validated by restoring it to a different volume
  • Do not plug in or attempt to power up the damaged drive
  • Place the drive in a sealed anti-static/plastic bag and keep the media damp. Do not try to clean, dry or expose water-logged drives or other media to heat – such as that from a hairdryer
  • How to ship your drive 
  • Restore backups to a different volume; this ensures that all important files are good on the backup before possibly overwriting data on the active volume
  • If there is a RAID problem, test the backup by restoring it to a different location or image each drive from the RAID before attempting a rebuild
  • Do not create any new files on the disk needing recovery or continue to run virtual machines until the important data is recovered


In these on-demand webinars you can learn about the pros and cons of Hard Disk Drives (HDD) and Solid State Drives (SSD) before you choose which technology to trust your data to.

HDD vs SSD - part 1

HDD vs SSD - part 2

RAID explained

Find out more about how RAID works and how data can be recovered from these systems when they fail.

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History of data storage & recovery

Discover the history of data storage and recovery in this interactive infographic.

Top 10 data losses

Browse through the most outrageous cases of data loss we’ve worked on.

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Latest recovery news

Read articles and commentary on the latest data recovery news.

How can I backup my data?

When creating a backup strategy, what should you consider to prevent data loss? Here we’ll take a look at the 3-2-1 backup method and what it involves.Read More