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Bizarre Data Loss: What’s Your Story?

Computer users have lost data under very bizarre circumstances. As data storage technology expands to accommodate business production – including email histories, company records and research – digital data forms a large part of a company’s backbone. In one famous case, an employee left a rotting banana on an external hard drive, which seeped into the mechanism and compromised all of his saved data. Do you have a messy desk? Don’t leave your lunch on your computer because even breadcrumbs can jam the tiny mechanisms that make the drive run

When a data storage medium is crammed with photograph albums, Mp3 music and private records or calendars, it’s a big part of our personal lives, too. And we take it with us everywhere. If you’re clumsy, don’t leave a cup of coffee within an arm’s reach of your hard drive. Liquids and oils will almost certainly make your data too slippery to handle. Nevertheless one person greased his hard drive with mechanical grease because it was squeaking!

Pack your belongings for travel with care. Don’t slide toiletries into your laptop bag and risk spilled shampoo on your personal or professional hard drive. Every year, data recovery firms receive hard drives that have been left in the path of moving vehicles. At the airport, laptop bags and external devices have been crushed under luggage carriers. Don’t drop your laptop, ever. Not from a high counter, a moving car, over a balcony, or – and this really happened – from a helicopter. Remember that digital data – although recoverable in all of the instances above – is easily lost. Protect your data and save yourself plenty of personal and professional trouble.

New Apple Mac book Causes Data Loss

Certain hard drives on the new Apple Mac book have design flaws that will cause data loss. This was reported by a UK data Recovery Organisation on the 2nd of November 2007. It has been said that there are “many dozen” flaws affecting Seagate 2.5 inch SATA drives, which are used in Mac Book and Mac Book Pro.

Other laptop-orientated components such as the Mac Mini are also at risk. According to the company, the read/write heads detach themselves and create deep gouges into the magnetic platter.

The damage is mostly created on the inner tracks, however, there have been cases where it has damaged the outer track as well. If the outer track is damaged, the result is that generally the drive is beyond repair.

So far the model numbers that have been reported as affected include ST96812AS and ST98823As. Due to the amount of faulty disks reported, it is difficult for a data recovery company to pinpoint the specific hard disks that contain design flaws. This is especially true in this case, where magnetic platters are a common type of failure. However, once word gets out, they will be able to combine all information from the different data recovery specialists.

Apple has not given a response or interview on the matter concerned. Seagate has just reported that they have become aware of the issue and are currently looking into it.

How many people have seen your data?

There’s a funny dichotomy going on between Internet and users that has some rather non-funny implications. The web is increasing in visibility every day – spilling out into lower-income houses and mobile phone browsers. And yet in response, users recoil in the spotlight, placing their identities far out of sight of the computer. They hide behind jokey user names, use false addresses in profiles, never ever include bona fide phone or social security numbers. If people are encouraged – nay, required – to protect their identities, why not treat business data with similar respect?

There’s been a new push towards protecting company intellectual property by monitoring data-handling transgressions within digital borders of a company. Having said that, it’s not a matter of firing the Upstart in marketing for sending unencrypted emails home for her workday Sundays. Rather, it’s a general awareness of just how public the Internet is, and how businesses need to protect their confidential data. Not as an aid to dishonesty, but as a way of competing in a global market place. What if your competition was able to undercut your prices with prospective clients each time you compiled quotes? What if your interaction with private clients became a matter of public knowledge?

Although the Internet is a great place to boost the name of your business, and nurture your client base, keep the rest out of the public eye. Protect your data and protect yourself. It’s just good business.

Flash memory looking at an early retirement

Phase change memory. What is that you say: this is a term you’ve never heard of? That’s what I thought when I heard it. It sounds like something out of a Star Trek movie. However, phase change memory is the storage technology that just may replace the ever popular flash memory, which is also non-volatile, in as little a span of time as one year. The technology is based on research and development that was done as far back as the 1960’s, which is probably why it is near ready for mass commercial use so soon.

How could it replace flash memory so entirely you ask? Well, the facts are that the science behind the phase change chip makes it capable of writing information up to 100 000 times faster than flash. It lasts up to 1000 times longer, and may retain data for longer, so there is less chance of corruption. The only down side is that it cannot be programmed before being soldered onto a circuit board, due to the memory being susceptible to heat.

The technology is different to flash in that it uses the versatility of a specific type of glass that is a semiconductor and can be switched between two states via the application of heat. Flash on the other hand uses the more conventional silicone semiconductor transistor method to do the same.

It is being said that Intel and others might have the goods ready within the excruciatingly short space of a year. This seems like great news.

Advantages of flash drives over hard disks

Since the introduction of the EPROM and EEPROM type solid-state memory devices, the industry has embraced the technology whole-heartedly. The benefits of flash memory are undeniable and should be heeded in future by all those who intend to buy laptops, notebooks or mobile PC’s.

Samsung are releasing solid-state flash drives that are up to 64 gigabytes in capacity and are competing with hard disk drives for the space inside notebook computers. Dell is supplying 32 gig versions already installed in laptop models. The solid-state memory supposedly accesses faster than conventional hard disk drives, as there are no moving parts that slow down the storage and retrieval process. The result of this is that the programs and applications load more swiftly, including the operating system and office applications. Samsung claim half the read time on their flash drives than that of typical mechanical hard drives. Another feature is that energy is conserved due to the lack of physical working parts, which means longer battery life expectations on mobile PC’s and devices. The lack of a read/write head also insures a far smaller chance that throwing ones laptop around while the drive accesses, creates or modifies its files, can incur damage.

The problem comes with the price, as the cost per gigabyte of flash memory capacity exceeds that of current hard disks about twice over. Still, this white wash is predicted to wane, as the cost will diminish as the capacities get bigger.

Source: CBS News

Hard drive growth

The first hard disk drive on the planet, the r.a.m.a.c (random access memory for accounting and control), was made by IBM in the nineteen fifties. It was as big as a large wardrobe and could contain a capacity of five whole megabytes! The archaic machine cost about fifty thousand US dollars at the time. The price now per gigabyte of memory when talking about hard disk drives less than a dollar, or 1 ten-millionth of what it was sixty years ago. This development rate has proven faster than that of telecommunications data transfer rates and of semi-conductor density increases.

Hard disk drives store their sequence of data bits in linear tracks, which follow around a magnetic disk in concentric circles. In order to fit more data over a smaller area, the gaps between the data tracks must reduce, as well as the spacing between the bits. These dimension quantities are measured in bits per inch (in a circumference-wise direction), and tracks per inch (in a radius-wise direction). These get smaller as the technology gets better; also, one must take into account the tiny areas or gaps between tracks that are there to compensate for a slightly misaligned reader head, so it doesn’t read the neighboring tracks.

The method of measuring the total quantity of data storable over a surface area is quantity per square inch, these days, gigabits per square inch. This measurement is a combination of your bits per inch and tracks per inch. It is known as the areal density. This density has, since that first wardrobe hard drive, had a steady increase at 30 percent per year, and from the early nineties when magneto head resistance was brought about, jumped to 60. Then again in the late nineties, it leaped up to 100 percent yearly increase with the introduction of giant magnet resistance head technology. Now though, the rate of growth has slowed to under 60 percent.

These days the cost of data storage is so low, that the cost of ones data is greater than the medium on which it is stored. And regardless of whether one has backed up their data (backup storage systems can also become corrupted), the timing might be out. Not many people or even large organisations practice regular backup and backup recovery. The needs to have solid data recovery specialists Like Data Detect are always going to remain.

Evolution in Hard Drive Capacity

The day arrived early this year in January when Hitachi released the first commercially available 1 terabyte hard drive. A terabyte is approximately 1000 gigabytes in capacity.

Most ordinary people at the current time won’t use nearly this much space as high definition video (broadcast in 1920 x 1080 pixels resolution) has not yet become ready to broadcast in the country. When that day arrives, however, the need for super-huge hard drives will be manifold, as the boosted video format requires about 4 to 5 times the space over current video formats for storage. It is supposedly in the pipeline that all the South African Television stations will be broadcasting in true HD by the time the 2010 soccer world cup arrives. This means that the hard drive based recorders that are widely used right now will probably be rendered almost entirely obsolete by that time, as will most television sets.

This step up in technology will undoubtedly bring about greater needs in terms of storage backup and data recovery efficiency, since the more massive the demand for increased storage capacity, the greater the effort and time required when trying to scan damaged drives for crucial data or perhaps enhancing data compression capabilities.

Disk Imaging

Most popular and commonly used, can be likened to taking a photograph of the disk. The image can be used to restore information in the case of data being lost. A disk image is information copied exactly from the file system and partition tables. There is also a ghost image, where configurations pertaining to the operating system, drivers and system configuration can be restored to achieve a precise reproduction of ones previous working environment, in the event of damage to ones hardware or something crashing. A ghost image of ones hard drive can be made through a special program. The most popular and proficient software for this is Norton Ghost, but other free ware equivalents can be downloaded from the World Wide Web. Other types of data backup include DVD backup, CD backup, Offsite backup, online backup and network backup.

RAID Systems – What you should know about RAID

One of the worst situations you can be in is having a RAID device go down—RAID arrays, or Random Arrays of Inexpensive Disks, typically contain the most important information a business has, including backups, databases, and email histories, since they’re able to hold a vast amount of data and have lower failure rates than a standard drive. RAID arrays are often designed to stay running when a normal drive won’t; they’re often used to avoid data loss, but they’re not infallible. When you need to get data recovery from a RAID, there are a few things you can understand.

First of all, it’s going to be fairly expensive. RAID arrays operate by striping data across multiple disks, i.e. they write a bit of information to each disk in sequence until a file has been stored. Data recovery on a single drive is normally R3000-R5000, and RAID arrays are a lot more complex than a typical drive. Generally, the more complex the array, the larger the price, and arrays with more than five drives can easily get up over R20,000. Usually, a recovery can take some time too, so if you want to avoid being without your data for days, you’re going to pay for the premium. Data recovery providers have “priority” and “emergency” services that cost a lot, but get the job done quickly. The actual care going into these services shouldn’t be any different, you’re basically paying to get the data recovery specialists on the case right away as opposed to waiting in a queue.

Price is also going to change according to the level of RAID you have. The most common array is a RAID 5 or RAID 0, and any non-standard RAID setup is going to cost more per drive. Mirrored RAID arrays cost less than striped RAID arrays since they’re not as complex; they’re basically treated as normal drives except in rare occasions.

Do not try to reinitialize the array; this may overwrite data and make the recovery a lot more expensive. Also, if it’s a logical problem, don’t try to run any software directly from it, as the installation of this software could cause a big issue. If you hear noises from any of the drives, turn them off immediately and don’t turn them back on. This could cause massive physical damage to the platters, and drives the price up and the recoverability down.

When you’re pricing data recovery companies, look for loads of experience and make sure they’ve got a clean room. To avoid delays, see if the company you’re looking at is going to need the controller card for the RAID (most companies aren’t going to need the card, but it’s always a good idea to check). Make sure when you call you know some basic information such as the size of each drive, how much info was on the array in total, the controller card model and brand, the exact situation with the failure, and anything else you can think of.

RAID arrays are a really great instrument for businesses that need to store large amounts of data, though like any mechanical data storage system, they need to be backed up and the back ups need to be checked on a practically constant basis. They will eventually fail and you’ll be unable to fix it, just like anything else, and the expense is extremely high. The good news is that they’re usually very recoverable (rates are usually around 90% depending on the company you use), so although it’s going to set you back some money, you should be up and running again in no time.

Data Detect is Southern Africa’s leading RAID recovery company that has succesfully recovered data from RAID systems for many satisfied clients with references to back it up!

Tips for Data Recovery of RAID 5 Drives

Data is integral to today’s businesses. Information is said to be power and right fully so, especially when you consider the nature of the economy of the modern world in this age we call the Information Age.

This has led to the explosion of the integration of Information Technology into most businesses. Most businesses employ some sort of Information System which stores sensitive information vital to a broad spectrum of operations.

These systems may be reliable, especially as technology increases the amount and accuracy of information stored in various media and systems. However, the probability that these systems will crash or that data will be lost cannot be ignored.

Most data crashes occur when some physical or logical error is introduced into a system. Hard disks, CD-ROMs, Tape Drives and other storage media can and will fail eventually. This could be caused by a host reasons – power outages, physical damage to media, head crashes, motor problems and the like.

Whatever the reason, you will need a means to restore all this data. This is especially true if for some reason the deleted, destroyed or corrupted data contains information that is not backed up or existing in any other location anyway.

A special consideration when planning for backup strategies is the type of storage you choose to employ. If you are using a RAID set up for your data access and recording, you will have to keep in mind a few extra tips on top of your general knowledge data management.

1. Regular Maintenance – While RAID components are usually reliable, it is recommended that regular back ups are performed at set intervals. There is always the chance that such systems will have logical and continuity problems. For this, you may want to employ special software to maintain the integrity of your RAID configuration.

2. Know Your Problem – It may take a little training to know the difference, but many of the RAID problems can be solved by using readily available RAID data recovery tools. If in the event that such software does not work, then you may consider the services of a professional data recovery expert.

These experts are highly-trained and employ equipment not readily available to most people to recover badly damaged disks, and hopeless media.

3. If Possible, Use Software RAID instead of Hardware RAID – while software RAID is a viable alternative to hardware RAID. Software RAID has a few practical setbacks.

Software RAID is not as fault tolerant as hardware RAID. It may not be an error magnet, but it still is a lot less reliable in comparison to hardware RAID

Also software raid takes up valuable system resources and needs to boot up before it can be used. This is not saying that software RAID should be avoided like the flu; it is jus that there are really good reasons to use hardware RAID instead

4. Invest in Maintenance – While using precious hours backing up and maintaining your RAID can prove to be taxing, and by all means unnecessary, you only have to look at a professional data recovery bill to realize that it was all worth it.