Every person who uses a personal computer will eventually face the challenge of data recovery. Computer hardware and software can be temperamental from time to time. Hard drives and other mechanical components of personal computers and servers do not last forever, and when they fail recovering your data can be difficult, time consuming and costly.
If you are working diligently away on a document or spreadsheet in Microsoft Office and the power goes out, you may still be able to recover the documents you were working on when the lights come back on. This type of data recovery is relatively easy and straightforward. Software manufacturers recognize that power outages are inevitable and unpredictable and most office applications incorporate what is known as autosave features. At set intervals, the documents you have open are saved to a cached file. They remain in that cached state and should be accessible once your power is restored. Simply opening Microsoft Word or Excel will usually bring these documents back. For instance, when you open Word after a power failure or a software error, you will be presented with a document followed by the word recovered in parentheses. This is the document you were working on at the most recent autosave point. You may still lose a couple minutes worth of work this way, but it sure beats having to go back and retype the entire document.
If the recovered document does not appear automatically, search your hard drive for files ending with tmp. Look for one created close to the time of the power failure or software error and open it. This is most likely the document you had open at the time. If this method of data recovery does not work, you may need to follow the steps listed below.
Of course not all data recovery is so easy and so straightforward. If you delete a file accidentally, it is a simple matter to recover it from the recycle bin. Once you empty the recycle bin, however, things become more difficult. The deleted file still resides on your computer somewhere, but the pointer that tells the program where to find the file is now gone. There are various software tools available that promise to help recover deleted files, and they all have their strengths and weaknesses. Some of the major players are Norton, McAfee and Computer Associates. There are a great many smaller vendors as well.
Even if all these products fail to recover your data, you may not be completely out of luck. Data recovery services specialize in recovering data from failed and corrupt hard drives. These data recovery services have tools and equipment not available to the general public.
Government and law enforcement forensic teams will often make use of these advanced data recovery techniques to investigate cases of computer crime. Businesses also will turn to a professional data recovery service to recover mission critical data from damaged hard drives.
It is important to choose a reputable firm any time you need to have data recovery services performed. The firm you choose should be able to provide references from previous clients. You should make sure to follow up with the references they provide.
The cost for the data recovery service will vary according to the type of equipment and the difficulty of the job. You should get several estimates to make sure you are paying a fair price for the service you receive.