By: David Zimmerman, CEO of LC Technology
The loss of mission-critical data is damaging to firms of any size. Companies run on data, and loss of information about products or services, or confidential customer information can severely damage a brand’s ability to function. When data is corrupted or contained within inoperable servers or drives, companies have essentially one option for recovery – to enlist the help of a data recovery firm.
IT managers charged with data protection must understand that using data recovery companies is a last resort. Ideally these managers will have in place safeguards and redundancies to protect data from any type of loss. Recovery is both costly and time-intensive, especially if it prevents a company from pulling in revenue.
To proactively prevent data loss, companies of any size should have a formal data management plan. This should include a comprehensive list of all of the firm’s data sources, everything from survey information to customer data to intellectual property documents. The plan should detail how all of this data is accessed, stored, shared, and deleted, as well as which staff members have certain access rights to perform these functions. The data plan must also detail how and when data will be backed up. Is all of the data mirrored to the cloud? Is it a mix of on-premises servers and the cloud that provide multiple layers of backups? Cloud storage through AWS or Google is cheap and secure, so companies should be utilizing such services for data safety.
Despite the best plans (or for firms that don’t have formal plans), things can still happen. A worker in the field might have a laptop with critical information that becomes corrupted. Floodwaters might invade an on-premise server room and damage the hard drives with saltwater. When recovery is the only option, then companies should follow several best practices:
1. Check out the firm’s SSD capabilities
Modern SSDs operate differently than traditional hard drives, especially when it comes to access and recovery. A traditional hard drive could be accessed by opening up the case, removing some screws, and then removing the hard drive. SSD drives within a laptop are exceedingly thin, and often mounted directly onto the board, so they’re very difficult to access and remove. Such a delicate recovery job requires specialists who can access data without damaging the drive. DIY data recovery is never a good idea, especially when dealing with critical data. Consider it a classic “risk/reward” where spending a few thousand dollars for reliable recovery with a high chance of success is much more enticing than risking permanent data loss.
2. Pick a reputable firm
Recovering data from unreadable or damaged hard drives requires specialized skills and equipment. You need a firm that operates an actual facility where they can open hard drives in clean-room environments. A quick Google search will uncover free software utilities that promise to pull information off of drives, but some of the utilities you may find can be very unreliable and may cause more harm than good. Even worse, they could be riddled with malware that can cause additional headaches. A reputable and well-reviewed recovery firm will have experienced personnel on hand who know how to access information from a variety of drives and memory devices.
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1. Check their qualifications
When searching for a data recovery firm, ask for proof of their industry certifications. Passing such certifications means they have passed requirements for data security and handling of various devices. You want to be certain the facility itself and the staff are properly trained on the latest techniques and devices, which will increase the odds of a successful data retrieval.
2. Choose a firm with multiple capabilities
Workers use a variety of devices in their roles, from SSD laptops in the field, to in-house servers, to Go Pros and digital cameras. All of these devices can break or become corrupted, so staff might need help with SD cards one week and a hard drive the next. A good recovery firm will not only have the technology to handle multiple devices, but also multiple damage issues. These include power-related problems, exposure to heat or water, and breakage problems. Every recovery incident is unique and extracting the data requires choosing the right approach and tools, so pick a firm with a breadth of capabilities.
3. Rely on customer service
Since you are considering using a recovery service, then the data involved must be important. You need a recovery partner that treats your device and data delicately, from the shipping process to the return. Data recovery is very often time sensitive, so make sure your recovery partner can communicate timelines and problems transparently. You should be able to quickly speak to someone on the phone and expect a detailed answer within minutes. The recovery firm should also have partnerships in place that help it to fulfill your needs quickly.
Data recovery can be largely prevented by ensuring staff use cloud backups and all corporate data is redundantly saved offsite. However, even the best data management plan can’t prevent individual actions that cause data loss or unlikely mechanical or electrical failures. When you have to choose the “last resort”, it’s worth going through these steps to find a trusted recovery firm that can become a long-term partner.