Knowledge is power, except when it’s on fire
It’s still uncertain how exactly the Great Library of Alexandria burnt down all those centuries ago.
Maybe it was in 48 BC and Julius Caesar accidentally setting it on fire whilst laying waste to the Egyptian fleet, or maybe Caliph Omar had the books removed and used as fuel for heating the public baths when his forces conquered the city in 640 AD.
Whenever and however it happened, the result was a catastrophic loss of knowledge.
But such is the risk of having so much important data contained in a single place, with no way to recover it in the event of a disaster.
Corporate empires of today may store data of an entirely different kind and using entirely different methods to empires of the ancient world, but that data could be lost just as suddenly and, as far as the management of that organization is concerned, it could be just as damaging.
Fortunately, a damaged database, unlike the burning library of Alexandria, does not spell the end for a lifetime’s worth of collected knowledge.
As data storage technology has advanced, so too have the methods for data recovery.
Bigger, faster and as likely to crash
The amount of hard drive space in the average computer nowadays would have cost more than a car 30 years ago.
Twenty years ago people would have been satisfied with fewer gigabytes’ worth of data than what people nowadays carry on chains around their necks.
Hard drives have increased in speed, increased in capacity, increased in affordability, and increased their presence in our everyday lives.
But one area where they’ve not increased all that much is reliability.
One of the biggest causes of hard drive failure is the heat generated by the rotating discs, and little has been done over the years to address that.
The value of the data being held in hard drives around the world is so much greater now than it was before, yet the threat of hard drive failureremains ever-present.
Add to that the potential for accidents in the workplace, such as spilled liquids or physical trauma to the database, or even fires.
Fortunately, data recovery has come a long way since the days of undelete.exe, the command that may or may not have allowed MSDOS users of the 80s to recover lost data.
Specialized recovery software can read from “raw” volumes – meaning volumes where the Master Boot Record or File Systems has been damaged, and even hard drives that have suffered severe physical damage are not beyond recovery.
Leave it to the experts
Of course, data recovery is a complex process requiring precise procedures.
These are usually performed in “clean rooms”, controlled environments where pressure, dust, temperature, and air distribution are all regulated.
The idea of having to create and operate in such an environment might be intimidating to most people. Fortunately, they don’t have to do so themselves, and certainly shouldn’t attempt to.
All they have to do is deliver the hard drive into the hands of professional data recovery firms, who have the necessary equipment and expertise to do all hard work.
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Matthew Flax writes for Data Detect, a data recovery specialist based in Australia, which includes forensic data recovery, hard drive data recovery, and RAID recovery in its range of services.