DIY Data Recovery: Good Idea or Not?
Data recovery is important business. We live in the digital age where each and every individual is responsible for generating copious volumes of information every day.
We only need to take a peek at the laptops and storage devices of high school students and we can easily conclude that a highly vulnerable potpourri of personal details, general wisdom, social tidbits and professional data is found almost everywhere.
Where there is information, there is the danger of losing it!
From company employees to housewives, individuals face the threat of losing access to critical inputs and insights that govern their lives.
In the event of physical trauma to devices, corruption due to viruses, and general hardware failure, the attempts that are made to retrieve the potentially compromised information are termed as data recovery efforts.
DIY vs. Professional Data Recovery Options
The data recovery industry is large and thriving. Given the ephemeral nature of data, backup and recovery services are often clubbed together and offered by agencies that have sophisticated equipment and Class 100 clean rooms completely devoid of particulate matter to carry out important recoveries.
However, given the popularity and proliferation of data storage devices, large segments of people prefer to give data recovery an independent shot. They are known as DIYers or those who follow the trend of “Do it Yourself”.
DIYers rely on the free information available on the Internet including YouTube tutorials and inexpensively priced data recovery solutions to carry out their operations.
Are they successful?
Is DIY data recovery a good idea?
The answer is subjective and depends on a number of factors.
When can you be a DIYer without qualms?
To understand this, it is important to first have an idea of how data storage and recovery function.
A laptop generally works with a Solid State Device (SSD) or traditional Hard Disk Drive (HDD) as the primary memory repository. An HDD is partitioned into sectors and each sector is used to store a particular byte of information. The HDD reader heads do not touch the actual platter and the sectors. They move over a cushion of air that protects the hard disk from wear and tear.
The device also maintains a separate registry of locations and correlated information or data bytes. This is how your laptop reconstructs the items you request (like files) and presents the cohesive final form to you. If anything happens to disrupt this process, then information retrieval is also impacted.
Mac Operating Systems favor Solid State Device memories. These are more robust than HDDs because they do not comprise of moving parts. But a bad physical jolt is something that even SSDs have trouble coping with.
You can go the DIY route if the main disk is healthy
Let us assume that you have accidentally deleted information or a virus or Trojan has infected your device. Under both circumstances, your actual hard disk – the backbone of your storage or operational device is still relatively unharmed. You can start to attempt recovery with a good quality professionally recommended software solution.
There are many options in the market. Some are better at deletion recovery while others are specifically created to target severely corrupted information bits. You should choose your recovery platform carefully.
A recommendation for DIYers urges them to recover data to a fresh storage unit instead of the original HDD. This ensures that hidden files (which are tapped by most recovery solutions to power their retrieval) are not overwritten further complicating the situation if the initial attempt is only partially successful.
It is better to call in an expert when your hard disk is on its last legs
According to a recent 2016 research, 73% of people who lose access to data choose the DIY option. They always hesitate before calling in a professional.
But if the storage device:
- Has been dropped causing permanent trauma to the hard disk or solid state device
- Has slowed down considerably showing disk degradation
- Is displaying distress screens again indicating HDD failure
Then any at-home attempts may actually cause more damage.
For example, if your laptop has crashed to the floor and you are now trying to use a software solution to coax the data back to life, you must understand that in the case of an HDD memory, the reader heads might very well be scratching the platters and causing irreparable damage. The magnetic powder coating on your memory repository can permeate the inside of your laptop and thwart future recovery processes initiated by professionals.
In short, DIY data recovery isn’t always a complete disaster. It depends on the nature of the incident that has driven the data loss and the condition of your storage device.
But under no circumstance should you try to “tap” your hard disk into life or freeze it in the refrigerator! DIY data recovery also needs to follow some logical guidelines.