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What is Data Recovery?

What is Data Recovery?


Data recovery is the process of restoring data that has been lost, accidentally deleted, corrupted or made inaccessible. In enterprise IT, data recovery typically refers to the restoration of data to a desktop, laptop, server or external storage system from a backup. 

Causes of data loss

Most data loss is caused by human error Other common causes of data loss include power outages, natural disasters, equipment failures or malfunctions, accidental deletion of data, unintentionally formatting a hard drive, damaged hard drive read/write heads, software crashes, logical errors, firmware corruption, continued use of a computer after signs of failure, physical damage to hard drives, laptop theft, and spilling coffee or water on a computer.

Logical failure

This kind of failure occurs with most traditional as well as modern hard drives. In logical failure or damages, you will not be able to access the drive but still, can see it on BIOS or under Disk Management. File system corruption, OS failure, registry damages are the top contributing factor in logical hard drive failure and prevent stored content to be normally accessed by the user. As the internal structure of the problem drive is intact or undamaged, there is a good hope of complete data recovery if followed carefully. You can seek for the alternatives of data recovery like recovery programs or dedicated data recovery experts which can guide you well on easily restoring your data from inaccessible storage device.

Data Recovery

Physical failure

It refers to the permanent failure of any storage drive compromising physical damages to electronic equipment of the storage device. This kind of failure prevents access to the storage device and will require you to take it to data recovery experts so you can get back your valuable files. Data recovery experts use class 100 clean room to treat the problem drive carefully and assures guaranteed recovery.

How data recovery works

The data recovery process varies, depending on the circumstances of the data loss, the data recovery software used to create the backup and the backup target media. For example, many desktop and laptop backup software platforms allow users to restore lost files themselves, while restoration of a corrupted database from a tape backup is a more complicated process that requires IT intervention. Data recovery services can also be used to retrieve files that were not backed up and accidentally deleted from a computer's file system, but still remain on the hard disk in fragments. Data recovery is possible because a file and the information about that file are stored in different places. For example, the Windows operating system uses a file allocation table to track which files are on the hard drive and where they are stored. The allocation table is like a book's table of contents, while the actual files on the hard drive are like the pages in the book.

Data Recovery

When data needs to be recovered, it is usually only the file allocation table that is not working properly. The actual file to be recovered may still be on the hard drive in flawless condition. If the file still exists and it is not damaged or encrypted it can be recovered. If the file is damaged, missing or encrypted, there are other ways of recovering it. If the file is physically damaged, it can still be reconstructed. Many applications, such as Microsoft Office, put uniform headers at the beginning of files to designate that they belong to that application. Some utilities can be used to reconstruct the file headers manually, so at least some of the file can be recovered. Most data recovery processes combine technologies, so organizations are not solely recovering data by tape. Recovering core applications and data from tape takes time and you may need to access your data immediately after a disaster. There are also risks involved with transporting tapes. In addition, not all production data at a remote location may be needed to resume operations. Therefore, it is wise to identify what can be left behind and what data must be recovered.

Data recovery techniques

Instant recovery also known as recovery in place, tries to eliminate the recovery window by redirecting user workloads to the backup server. A snapshot is created so the backup remains in a pristine state and all user write operations are redirected to that snapshot, users then work off the backup virtual machine and the recovery process begins in the background. Users have no idea the recovery is taking place, and once the recovery is complete, the user workload is redirected back to the original virtual machine.
One way to avoid the time consuming and costly process of data recovery is to prevent the data loss from ever taking place. Data loss prevention products help companies identify and stop data leaks and come in two versions: stand-alone and integrated.
Integrated DLP products are usually found on perimeter security gateways and are useful for detecting sensitive data at rest and in motion.
Stand-alone DLP products can reside on specialized appliances or be sold as software.
Unlike stand-alone data loss prevention products, integrated DLP products usually do not share the same management consoles, policy management engines and data storage.

Integrating data recovery into a DR plan

An organization's disaster recovery plan should identify the people in the organization responsible for recovering data, provide a strategy for how data will be recovered and document acceptable recovery point and recovery time objectives. It should also include the steps to take in recovering data. For example, if a building is inoperable, affected business units must be advised to prepare to relocate to an alternate location. If hardware systems have been damaged or destroyed, processes must be activated to recover damaged hardware. Processes to recover damaged software should also be part of the DR plan.
A business impact analysis can help an organization understand its data requirements and identify the minimum amount of time needed to recover data to its previous state. One challenge to data loss and data recovery is getting a handle on the unstructured data stored on various devices. But there are steps that can mitigate the damage. Start by classifying data based on its sensitivity and determine which classifications must be secured. Then, determine how much data would have to be compromised to affect the organization. Undertake a risk assessment to determine what controls are needed to protect sensitive data. Finally, put systems in place to store and protect that content.

Data Recovery

Tips to avoid data loss or being caught in disaster

With latest technologies and set of tools provided, you can tackle data loss situation effectively. Cloud space, backup drive, inbuilt OS utility to store files, etc. are the common ways you can avoid data loss. Enterprises can opt for virtual cloud space to store huge amount of data and make it accessible throughout various servers so it can be accessed from sitting anywhere in the world. Creating a backup and distributing it across different storage channels like backup drive, burning copy of data to CD or DVDs can increase the chances of data availability even if the primary source becomes inaccessible or fails permanently. You’ll need to check the consistency of your backup source weekly if not regularly. It’ll also boost up the chances of immediate data restore as sometime, the backup drive itself may become corrupt or damaged.

Why isn’t data recovery always successful?

Keep in mind that data recovery process may fail to recover the desired files which you have had lost or deleted because of various reason. One most popular reason for unsuccessful recovery is due to overwriting which cause severe damages or even completely removes the information about any recently deleted or formatted files. This will restrict data recovery program to find overwritten files and thus, your data might have been gone forever. Avoid using the faulty drive or storage media once data loss disaster strikes. Remove the drive and plug it back externally to another computer using SATA / USB adapter to perform data recovery and safely recover files. Doing this will ensure that no read/write operation has been performed on the problem device and increase the chances of successful data recovery.
Data Recovery


  1. Nice blog... I always wants to know how disaster recovery works in an OpenStack cloud. Thanks for sharing valuable content.

  2. I am happy to find your distinguished way of writing the post. Now you make it easy for me to understand and implement the concept. Thank you for the post. odzyskiwanie danych Warszawa