One of the most important tools that businesses have at their disposal is gathering and learning from data to grow their businesses. Data is both a powerful and indispensable asset that every business must harness. However, amassing and storing data presents its own set of challenges. Your stored information exists at the mercy of the storage solutions you choose. Physical storage solutions can become particularly problematic as device failure can lead to data loss. Unfortunately, when data recovery arises, there is much misinformation that obfuscates good solid practice. Much of this misinformation is due in part to myths about how storage devices work. Far from being benign, the perpetuation of these myths ill-prepare you for data loss and, in turn, can cause irreparable danger to your business. Knowing the myths is the first step towards protecting you and your business from data loss. Here are eight of them.
Once lost, it’s gone forever – Many people come to the premature conclusion that their data is gone forever once data loss occurs. This is wholly inaccurate. Drives do not delete files as much as they write over them when space is marked as available. When a person deletes a file either accidentally or on purpose, the drive registers this newfound space as “free”. However, the file itself isn’t obliterated. As long as the user avoids actions that will cause the drive to overwrite that newly cleared spot, your file will remain on that drive. This is why it is important for the user to immediately cease using their device until a data recovery specialist can attempt to recover your deleted file(s).
All you need is RAID – There is a feeling that having a RAID (Redundant Array of Independent Disks) array with sufficient redundancy is enough protection against unexpected data losses. This myth is bolstered by the fact that RAID allows unlimited redundancies, i.e. the ability to withstand hardware failures. However, this is far from the truth. Arrays fail periodically, and failure could spell catastrophe for your business if data cannot be recovered. Even if you have a RAID array in use, you still have to back up your data. It is important to say that RAID is not backup, and treating it that way could mean dire consequences for your business.
RAID data is lost forever – This is yet another instance where incorrect information exists about data recovery. When it comes to RAID recovery, the approach is different from a regular drive. With regular drives, data recovery is attempted on individual drives. In RAID arrays, data recovery is only possible after the user has rebuilt the RAID configuration. While possible, this is easier said than done. RAID utilizes a complex data storage system that meshes together several drives to create one logical volume. Creating a RAID array means defining several parameters such as several disks, parity, block size, block order, and disk offset, to name a few. Thus documenting these parameters will help simplify reconstruction.
Solid-state drives – When solid-state drives (SSDs) first came on the scene, they were hailed as a new era in data storage. They were faster than HDDs, and since they contained no moving parts, they were thought to fail less frequently than their HDD predecessors. However, this is a myth that has encouraged too many business owners to gravitate towards SSDs without understanding that drive failure also has a lot to do with how the drive is used and its garbage collection system rather than just its composition. The truth is that all drives fail at some point. With SSDs susceptible to data corruption and certain types of user-error data loss compared to hard drives, the lesson here is that backing up data is an essential undertaking.
Just freeze your HDD – As crazy as this sounds, this one is only partly a myth. In the earlier days of hard disks, hard drive failures could be fixed by putting the drive temporarily into the freezer. Since most HDD failures were caused by seized read/write heads, throwing the drives into the freezer helped dislodge the stuck heads. Users were then allowed to throw the drives back into the computer and recover the data before the drives warmed up and frozen again. The caveat with this was that the freezers used for this process were specially designed. Additionally, with reading/write technology improving over the years, throwing hard drives into a regular freezer won’t have nearly the same effect. Quite the opposite, you may cause further, irreversible damage to your equipment. Instead, take your equipment to a data recovery specialist as quickly as possible.
Data recovery means hard drive repair – There may be a tiny bit of truth to this. During data recovery, the drive is repaired to a small degree, allowing the data to be recovered. However, this is just a temporary fix. Data recovery companies do not repair drives to the point where they once again become functional. Yet, this does not mean you can take your drive and sell it on Amazon as an Amazon Renewed product. Your drive will no longer be able to hold data, and neither will you ever trust it to do so. Your hard drive will have to be discarded once the data recovery efforts have been completed.
Suffering drive failure and data loss can be a frustrating event for both you and your company. Businesses thrive on data, and not having access to your data is like trying to run a race while blindfolded. Therefore it is important that when data loss does occur, you seek to have your devices serviced by a knowledgeable and experienced professional. Doing so will help minimize the fallout from your data loss, allowing your business to regain its footing sooner rather than later. However, as with all data loss incidents, the most important steps you can take is to stop using your devices and get help as quickly as possible.