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TDWI Upside - Where Data Means Business

Data Recovery: Finding the Right Provider

Backing up your data is the best way to protect it, but when you need a data recovery specialist, follow these four best practices to find the firm that's right for you.

Data recovery should always be considered a "last resort" option. Ideally, both individuals and enterprises will employ proactive safeguards that effectively remove the need for recovery -- even in the event of a disaster. Companywide data loss can erode the customers' faith in the business and require staff members and IT to focus their efforts on recovery instead of their core revenue-generating duties.

For Further Reading:

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Top 5 Cloud Security Threats You Need To Understand

Yes, enterprises and individuals should back up their information and protect it from loss. However, your enterprise also needs a "Plan B," so you should identify a data recovery partner -- just in case.

Preventing Individual Machine Loss

The modern laptop, desktop, and tablet can hold massive amounts of data: thousands of pictures, videos, and documents. These machines are inherently fragile and prone to both data corruption and physical breakage, and when one "goes down," the primary option for saving the data is time-consuming and costly data recovery.

Data on older laptops and desktops was easier to recover because the systems were more accessible and removing the hard drive was a simple task. Modern laptops with SSD drives are very thin, the cases don't have reachable screws, and the drives are often bolted onto the motherboard. To open such machines requires special tools and possibly even a clean room as well as the expertise that can only be found at a reputable recovery firm.

To avoid the hassle of recovery, here are three tips for avoiding data loss:

  • Don't use free software utilities from unknown companies that promise to recover data from damaged machines. These typically do not work well, may cause more damage, and can contain malware.

  • Regularly sync data with the cloud or at least an external hard drive stored off-site. Cloud storage is exceedingly cheap and provides instantly accessible backups.

  • Use the latest security protections. This includes a PIN or password to access any computer, firewall programs, and a malware prevention utility (choose one that is frequently updated). Update the O/S frequently to ensure the machine has the latest patches.

Even with the best-laid plans, data loss can still occur. Employees might store their information locally on their laptops, or they may have data from a field excursion and experience a data failure before they can connect to the cloud storage platform. Any such situation would then require the help of a dedicated firm that performs data recovery. Here are four best practices for finding such a service provider.

Best Practice #1: Choose a reputable firm

Companies of nearly any size understand the importance of carefully reviewing any third-party provider, whether it's a janitorial service, BI platform, or cloud provider. The same scrutiny should be applied to prospective data recovery firms. Pulling data from damaged or corrupted devices takes specialized equipment and knowledge, so it's imperative to employ a proven partner with an established positive reputation.

Best Practice #2: Double check the provider's SSD drive experience

Newer SSD drives are difficult to access and remove, which complicates any recovery efforts. If you're dealing with SSD drives, talk to several recovery firms to be certain they have the right tools to manage these drives. This means a clean room environment and the right expertise. When the data you need to recover is mission critical, it's wise to pay a little more to a recovery firm that has the highest odds of success and can conquer complicated jobs.

Best Practice #3: Check the provider's industry certifications

Confirm your data recovery firm is certified for data handling procedures and for following best practices for recovery. If you are trying to recover sensitive data, then you must trust your recovery partner to keep that data confidential. Recovery of personally identifiable information, medical data, and other similarly regulated or sensitive data means you must be sure the recovery firm follows the very latest data security and handling procedures.

Best Practice #4: Explore the breadth of a provider's capabilities

Whether your company employs 10 people or 1,000, it's likely the team uses an array of devices. They might take GoPros to a conference, use laptops on the road, take photos with digital cameras at a promotional event, and use tablets to capture customer data. Each device is capable of storing different data types, and all of them hold value. For security and logistical reasons, find a "one-stop shop" for your data recovery needs. Talk to prospective vendors about how they deal with different types of devices and problems. For example, can they capture information from both a waterlogged DSLR and a laptop dropped out a window?

Backup Is Your First Defense

Treat data recovery as a last line of defense. Employing best practices for data management and backup is the best way to prevent costly, time-consuming, and disruptive recovery. If you need professional assistance, it's best to proactively follow these four best practices to find a recovery partner you can trust.


About the Author

David Zimmerman has been in the data recovery software market for 20 years, during which he has created and supported drive-recovery software products for the PC market and successfully marketed them both nationally and internationally. His company, LC Technology International, Inc., based in Clearwater, Florida, is a global leader in data recovery, file system utilities, and data security technology. Clients include original equipment manufacturers, local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies, corporate security specialists, and IT consultants, among others.

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