Miracle Workers: rescuing data from the jaws of disaster

Even if you've dropped your laptop or your server has been set on fire, all hope is not lost. Data recovery companies such as Kroll Ontrack could still rescue your valuable files. Jim Martin dons a white lab coat and goes behind the scenes at a data recovery lab.

At some point in the past - perhaps even today - you've no doubt experienced that sickening feeling in the pit of your stomach after accidentally deleting an important file or folder. That feeling is even worse if your hard disk fails and you lose its entire contents, including months or years' worth of work, documents, finances, photos, videos and music.

If you've simply deleted a file, the good news is that it's almost always possible to recover it as the file still exists on your hard drive; the area it occupies has simply been marked as available for other data to be written over it. However, if your disk has been dropped, set on fire, submerged in water or any other horror, it might rattle or stop spinning entirely. Here, things become a lot more complicated.

Computer Weekly's fire damaged camera and SD memory card

Computer Weekly's fire damaged digital camera and SD card

The cleaned and extracted memory chip from the SD card

The extracted and cleaned memory chip from the SD card

Whatever your situation, there are data recovery companies that can attempt to restore your precious data and return your life to normality. One such firm is Kroll Ontrack, based in Epsom, Surrey. IT Pro visited their facility to see how engineers are able to recover lost data in special clean rooms.

Due process

The process starts with a call to one of Ontrack's data recovery team to discuss exactly what has happened, and work out the most cost effective way to recover it. Data on just about every medium can be recovered, from magnetic tape through to the latest SSDs (solid-state drives) including USB flash drives and memory cards in your phone or camera.

Even if the data is stored on a RAID array or in a virtual machine, Ontrack can usually recover it. Robert Winter, Ontrack's Engineering Manager, gave us a guided tour of the lab and explained that, "data is recoverable in the vast majority of cases". Even if the contents of your drive have become corrupted due to a virus or some malfunction, there's still hope.

Featured Resources

How to scale your organisation in the cloud

How to overcome common scaling challenges and choose the right scalable cloud service

Download now

The people factor: A critical ingredient for intelligent communications

How to improve communication within your business

Download now

Future of video conferencing

Optimising video conferencing features to achieve business goals

Download now

Improving cyber security for remote working

13 recommendations for security from any location

Download now

Most Popular

How to build a CMS with React and Google Sheets
content management system (CMS)

How to build a CMS with React and Google Sheets

24 Feb 2021
How to find RAM speed, size and type
Laptops

How to find RAM speed, size and type

26 Feb 2021
National Grid plots £450 million overhaul of Britain’s fibre network
Network & Internet

National Grid plots £450 million overhaul of Britain’s fibre network

2 Mar 2021