Data Recovery

Data recovery is the term used to describe the process of extracting data from a storage device. By storage device I am referring not just to the obvious devices such as an internal hard drive, external hard drive, memory sticks, discs and other forms of electronic data storage typically associated with computers, but also the not so obvious devices such as the hard drive in your sky box or the hard drive in your camcorder.

An example where data recovery would be needed is that you have an external hard drive connected to your PC to store your music library and you are in the process of downloading an album – Then the power goes off! Power cut! Your album was half way through its download and you are left with half of a data file. To add to your disappointment or only having half an album, the half will not play as it did not finish being written and has become corrupt!

Another example could be you are at your daughters wedding with your camcorder. Capturing the special day first hand ready to burn to DVDs and send off to all the distant relatives, when the battery dies! So you haven’t managed to get the whole ceremony and the bit that you did record has not been written correctly, become corrupt and will not play!

Just so you really get the picture, I’ll give a third example; Your toddler walks off with your USB memory stick and then comes back looking very pleased with himself as he has placed it straight into the toilet – Disappointed doesn’t do it justice – I know what this feels like…

All three of these examples leave you pretty gutted and data recovery becomes your next course of action!

When data is corrupt or damaged in some way, it could be that you can listen to half of a song, see half of a picture, hear a film but have no picture or just a plain error message saying, “cannot open file” or something similar.

Tech enthusiasts can Google how to recover data from damaged data storage and find lots of info from forums and how-to websites on how to do it. Data Recovery is not easy and if you do try and do it yourself, you may need to become familiar with the phrase “hexadecimal editor” as this allows you to interrogate the file one byte at a time and by comparing the bytes from a “good file”, you could copy and paste them into the “bad” file therefore making it correct – This is a minefield!

Because data recovery is so specialised, average people do not really attempt it themselves, but instead they opt to use a data recovery service (there are loads online) which can be expensive – depends how valuable the lost data is to the individual really.

There is also data recovery software available – again this can be expensive – but there are some free tools that you can download online that you can try, they may work?

Paddy Hawtin

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