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Five causes of lost digital holiday pictures

1. Reformatting
All too often, people forget that reformatting a memory card will remove all the files stored on it – including protected pictures. This data can only be retrieved by experts – so think again before you reformat.

2. Overwriting
Another common mistake is the accidental overwriting of images held on camera memory cards with new photos. Always check you’ve successfully transferred your images onto your PC, laptop, CD or DVD before taking new pictures.

3. Cracked and damaged media
Packing memory cards into overstuffed suitcases can result in them becoming bent or damaged on the journey home, making them unreadable. Wrapping cards in clothes and placing them in the middle of your case offers some degree of protection in transit – ensuring the safety of your pictures during your return trip.

4. Burnt media
Are you holidaying in hot weather? Your memory card isn’t so keen. Leaving memory cards in an elevated temperature environment such as a car on a sunny day or close to a heat source such as a radiator or oven will increase the chances of failure. Add to that direct sunlight too. It’s unlikely to cause damage to the digital photos on the memory card but may stop the card being recognised in a card reader.

5. Summer holiday injuries
Digital cameras often get dropped in the sand or splashed with water around the pool, damaging smart media to the extent that photos can’t be viewed. Only an expert can recover digital images from smart media damaged in this way, so be careful to keep digital cameras in padded and watertight cases to stay safe.

Data Recovery Tips

Data recovery can sometimes be worked out yourself, with help of software and some simple tips. This is usually the case when the drives are not physically damaged. If they are damaged however, you will need to send the drives to a specialist who will recover the data for you.

Here you need to decide the optimality, as the costs of data recovered needs to be balanced with the cost of data involved. If the lost data is not important, just take a lesson from this failure; replace the faulty drives, and start backing up. There should be adequate drive space and a schedule, so that you regularly create copies of your data.

There is no foolproof method where you will have 100% of your data recovered or will never have a crash. However, as they say, prevention is better than cure. Backing up is the prevention method when it comes to computer data.

Data loss

If you suspect any data corruption, drive corruption, or data loss, the possible symptoms will be:

• Error messages informing you that the device is not recognized.
• Previously accessible data is suddenly nowhere to be seen.
• Scraping or rattling sound in the drives, especially hard disks.
• Hard drive may not spin and may be still.
• Computer or hard drive does not function at all, like no booting is possible.

All of these indicate that the drive is corrupted. 44% of data losses are due to drive malfunction.

Tips on how to recover data

Some quick tips that can get you out of this gruesome situation are:

1. Recovery through software: First try to locate some data recovery software from your technically inclined friends. They may have some disk recovery software that can be used to get your data back.

2. Hardware Crash: If you have detected that your hardware is at fault and has crashed, by no means try the normal shutting down procedures. Just pull out the plug, and do not wait. Never try to save or recover the data at this time, as you may lose the otherwise safe or recoverable data as well.

3. Pinpoint the trouble in the hard disk: If you are not sure of the issue, listen to your hard disk for any scratching or unusual sounds. If this is the case, you will need recovery service; something that will cost you money and will take time also.

4. Determine the health of the drive: If you have determined that the drive is healthy by the above means, you may still be able to recover the data by yourself. Try using the recovery software or using the drives as slaves etc.

5. Slave disks: Try to connect the drive as a slave to another computer. This way you might be able to recover all of the data.

6. Locate the corruption: This can easily be found by booting from the floppy drive, or using the F disk and then viewing the partitioning information.

7. Shop for recovery software: Do an online search for data recovery software and see what software is ranked best, and what suits you. This software will usually not be free, but it may access your data and recover it for you. You can also make enquiries at a PC software store in your area.

8. Server Crash: If you had been working on a server and it has crashed, never try data recovery on the same server.

9. RAID Drive Crash: Replace the RAID data drive that failed, never ever reuse it.

10. RAID Drives: Label the multiple drives in RAID array.

11. Database files: In the case of Microsoft Exchange and SQL data failure, you should never do direct operations. Keep a copy of the database files and then start the work on the copies, not on the main files.

12. Utilities: Do not try to run Volume Defragmenters and Volume Repair Utilities on the suspect drives.

13. Other utilities: Also avoid the use of Volume Repair utilities if there has been power outage, or if your file system looks corrupted. This must be done only by people who are extremely confident and are technically wise.

14. Keep information: Always keep the following information at hand:
– The size of the drive
– Operating system (i.e. Windows 98, Windows XP, etc.)
– Situation of failure (what happened just before the drive stopped working)
– Is the drive recognized by the computer or not

15. Boot drive malfunction: If the drive that has crashed also had the OS on it, things are tricky. In this case, try to get recovery software with boot functions. This way the computer will boot from the software, and then you will be able to see your data files and copy them to safe drives.

16. Avoid physical cleaning of drives: Never attempt shaking, or cleaning the data drive on your own. This may cause more physical harm.

17. Do not remove drive covers: Hard drive covers are best left to specialists. Never try taking them off yourself. This requires special equipment, and is best left to technicians in labs.

18. Dropping the hard disks: The disks should not be dropped to be unstuck. This will not help get the hard disk unstuck, and will just do more damage.

19. Exposure to water: The drive can not be dried by any dryer if it was exposed to water, so do not try that.

20. Scrutinize the workplace: Pay attention to the place where you had kept your computer or notebook, etc. Highly humid, warm places or shaky desks may also cause hardware failure.

21. Firewalls: Viruses run havoc on the drives, sometimes erasing the data. Make sure that you are well protected behind a firewall. If you have not had one until now, get one now. Protect the network as well as your servers.

22. Physically damaged drives: If the drives have been corrupted physically, they must be sent to a clean room. This is a place where they can be opened and physically taken care of. While sending the drives to such a facility, take extra care while packaging them. If possible, try to get the original cases for packing.

If you have tried all the normal methods and you still have a problem with your data drives, it’s time to hunt for a data recovery company. There are many companies which provide such services, but you will have to be very careful whom to trust.

You can also call their helpline numbers by phone, and find out about their technical experts and the facility where your drive will be worked on. A reliable company will reveal everything, and will be very open to your requests. Usually, a good company can report on their preliminary findings within 24 hours of receiving the drive. They will then wait for your approval, if you will like to get your drive repaired at the estimated cost/time and risk.

Data Detect is a trusted data recovery company, recovering data for many sataisfied clients. As the leading and most succesful RAID recovery company in Southern Africa we offerer a 100% recovery on all RAID systems or your money back!

Get a Grip on Those Gripes August 2006 by Greg Shields

We’ll start off with IT Specialist Jeremy Soto in Heidelberg, Germany, who has a beef with software packaging. “Poor installation and upgrade packages are the worst,” he writes. “Why don’t all vendors use just one install engine like InstallShield or MSI that supports truly quiet installs and provides options for single file installation? When I attempt to do a background network installation [using tools like Systems Management Server or Altiris], some of these packages are a major challenge.”

Software companies take note: If you’re still creating your own custom installation applications that don’t support silent installation, meet me after class. Jeremy’s rant is a valid one. Admins who use software management systems struggle with them all the time. If you don’t yet support a silent installation, please make it a high priority in your next release. And make sure you post the silent command-line switches prominently on your Web site where people can find them.

A Question of Semantics
Kyle Beckman, Systems Support Specialist from Atlanta, Ga., has a problem with the wording in the Windows Group Policy. “I don’t understand why Microsoft has so many double negatives for the wording in Group Policy. ‘Allow access’ to something seems the most understandable way to do it.”

Group Policy wording is extremely precise, but Kyle’s impression is correct. Interpreting the meaning of the setting sometimes requires the skill of a master logician. What exactly happens when you Disable the Do Not Process The Run Once list? Only the help file knows.

Ron Elstun is a CAD Systems Administrator from Littleton, Co., who has an interesting problem actually created by Microsoft. Why, he asks, did the company change its Windows XP file sorting? He notes that Windows 2000 and earlier versions sort the following files [character-by-character] in this order:


But with XP, the files sort numbers as:


“This drives me crazy,” he says, “since I work with CAD files that are named with numbers 99 per cent of the time. The first two or three numbers determine the type of drawing (electrical, mechanical, piping, etc.).”

This gripe actually has a fix. There’s a registry key you can modify to revert the sorting algorithm back to the old Windows 2000 sort-by-character style. To do this, in the registry key type the following: HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINESoftware\Microsoft\WindowsCurrentversion\Policies\Explorer, this creates a new DWORD value named NoStrCmpLogical. Once you do this, then set the data to 1.

Liar, Liar Pants on Fire
Peter Cousins is in technical support in England and asks the age-old question, “Why do users lie during the diagnostic process [when we’re trying to fix their computer]? Either way they lose,” he says. “If their lying ensures you can’t identify the problem, then their computer remains broken. If you identify the fault, then you know they have lied! So why do they do it?”

It’s been said that a job in technical support is equal parts scientist, investigator and psychologist. Our user population has a very real belief that IT’s looking over their shoulder and that any problem with their computer could be an RPE — Resume Producing Event. Consequently, they’re given incentive to make up stories about how their computer broke.

On the other hand, we in IT can be a little holier-than-thou when we’re trying to fix someone else’s machine. It’s difficult to bite your tongue when you know that someone’s really screwed the pooch, but it’s also our job to get it fixed. In response, we sometimes decide to play the role of psychologist. So get them on the couch, have them tell you about their mother and figure out the real reason for the problem.

Role Playing
David Jackson from Chicago has a beef with how companies don’t match roles with titles. “What bothers me is how companies classify jobs inappropriately. A software developer should be paid as a developer, and a DBA should be paid as a DBA. Too often companies use job titles that don’t match the tasks performed, and then use those titles as an excuse to pay less than market value.” reports the national average for median salary of a DBA is $83,952, while for a Web Software Developer that figure drops to $68,970. What’s notable here is that most Web software developers also deal with databases in writing their code.

Sites like are interesting because while their data has given ammunition to job seekers, they also supply that same ammunition to employers. This means both sides of the negotiating table can escalate the debate.

Fun-House Mirror
Lastly, I have one gripe about disaster recovery as it relates to storage area networks (SANs). High-end storage manufacturers sell high-reliability disk arrays that cost millions to implement. Unfortunately, the little guys with five or 10 servers in their networks are still stuck with the same old RAID options, namely RAID 1 and RAID 5.

What I’d like to see out of the major server manufacturers is a poor-man’s equivalent of EMC’s Business Continuity Volume, also referred to as the “third mirror.” Imagine this scenario: You set up all your servers as a RAID 1 mirror for the system and apps drive, but instead of stopping there, you add a third disk into that two-disk RAID 1 set. This disk is also in the mirror set, but it mirrors itself to the primary pair perhaps once a day at three in the morning.

Why is this cool? Well, if during the day some vulnerability’s concept code stops being conceptual and you get hacked, a regular RAID 1 isn’t going to help you. Once the virus infects the machine, the RAID controller conveniently copies the virus to both disks in the mirror. This usually means a reinstall for you.

But if you had our “third mirror” in place, the fix would involve little more than restarting the server with the third drive as the primary. This would effectively and immediately take you back in time to that last snapshot at three in the morning. The solution would take a few more hard drives, but a few more hard drives is a lot cheaper than a whole SAN.

SAN’s Simplified

Fibre Channel is fast but it’s also expensive, enough that small to midsized enterprises often shudder at the price. In contrast, iSCSI lets you run a SAN with the network you already have. It demands none of the expensive cabling that Fibre does, much less the high learning curve or special training.

“You use existing infrastructure,” says Peter Cmaylo, senior vice president of business development at iStor, which makes iSCSI controllers for storage providers, VARs, and OEMs. “It’s much easier to use from a manageability perspective.”

And like Fibre Channel, it lets you attach dozens or even hundreds of servers to a limitless number of targets, using any OS, including Microsoft, Linux, Unix, and Solaris.

Simple SANs

iStor was founded by brothers Frank and Simon Huang in February 2002. Frank Huang is an engineer whose R&D team holds 27 issued or pending patents. He was also the founder of Vertex Networks, sold to Mitel in 2000.

Simon Huang is an expert in Fibre Channel, RAID, and ATA ASIC and was also the founder of storage firm CMD Technology, sold to Silicone Image in June 2001. No less the businessman than his brother, Simon was awarded Ernst & Young’s Entrepreneur of the Year award from 1991 to 1993.

In November iStor released its flagship product, the GigaStorATX. This multiport iSCSI-SATA storage controller is the industry’s first to condense major SAN functions into an SoC (System on a Chip), the iSNP8000. By losing the software and components that most iSCSI makers rely on, iStor’s SoC solutions gain speed; to wit, the GigaStorATX offers full 10Gbps iSCSI.

It also comes in three versions for OEMs, system integrators, and storage providers. The first, the GSATX408, sports up to four ports for eight SATA drives. The second, the GSATX416, has four ports as well but can accommodate 16 drives. And the third, the GSATX816, has up to eight ports for 16 drives. Each conforms to ATX standards, too. (Short for Advanced Technology eXtended, ATX is a common design standard for today’s motherboards. It was first released by Intel and offers a more efficient layout than its predecessor, the Baby AT, by putting the CPU closer to the fan, among other improvements.)

iStor plans to release a second product, the GigaStorHA, in the fourth quarter. It builds on the base features of the GigaStorATX but offers a custom form factor and high availability through RMC (Remote Memory Channel) features. It can also connect to SAS devices, which improves over old-school parallel SCSI by allowing up to 128 device connections with full-duplex signals.

Is Smaller Better?

The power—not to mention the ease—of iSCSI has lured a number of marquee names into the field, including giants such as EMC, Network Appliance, and HP, to name only a few. But according to Cmaylo, firms that focus solely on iSCSI may have an advantage that juggernauts don’t. The smaller vendors aren’t invested in keeping, much less growing, their accounts with existing Fibre Channel customers.

“What they don’t want to do,” says Cmaylo, referring to large storage manufacturers, “is impact Fibre Channel revenue. They’re very careful about positioning iSCSI into the enterprise because that’s where their revenue is.”

And as for speed concerns—in most deployments, Fibre Channel tends to outperform iSCSI—Cmaylo notes that breakneck Ethernet deployments at 10Gbps can trump standard 4Gbps Fibre Channel SANs. “We can give you performance storage for what you pay for what people now call ‘good enough’ storage.”

The result? iSCSI is here to stay—and growing. SANs that set up quickly, trump DAS and NAS for speed, yet cost half the price of Fibre Channel can be used for everything from data-intensive enterprise apps to disaster recovery, not to mention such sought-after functions as serverless backup. In a 2005 survey of SMEs, Enterprise Strategy Group found that 17% of respondents already had iSCSI SANs in the production environment, and more than 40% planned to implement them by mid-2006.

Storage Guru Predicts Major Changes In Technology

A slowdown in the ability to continually wring more performance out of existing technologies will change the face of the hard drive and the IT industry in general.

That’s the word from one of the storage industry’s leading technologists who this week discussed storage and data center trends with a roomful of storage administrators and CIOs at Nth Generation’s Summer 2006 Technology Symposium, held this week in Anaheim, Calif.

Nth Generation is a San Diego-based solution provider and one of Hewlett-Packard’s biggest partners in the Western United States.

Richie Lary, an independent consultant who once helped define Digital Equipment’s VAX computer architecture and the storage line that was eventually acquired by Compaq and then HP, looked at expected hard drive development over the next 10 years and said he expects the typical 3.5-inch drive to have a capacity of 3 Tbytes to 7 Tbytes.

To get to that capacity, however, will require some rethinking of hard drive technology because of how complicated hard drive technology has become.

“I like to compare hard drive technology to a Boeing 747,” Lary said. “If you scale a hard drive to the size of a 747, it’s like flying the 747 1/100 of an inch off the ground at 2,500,000 miles per hours, with the pilot able to read the spots on a set of dominos.”

The main problem with improving hard drive technology is that areal density, which is the number of bits of data that can be stored in a given space, is hitting a wall thanks to the superparamagnetic limit. That is the point at which the bits are so close that turning a bit on or off can affect the state of a neighboring bit.

The industry has been pushing the superparamagnetic limit higher for years by using “squarer” bits to increase density, but density boosts from that technology, which depend on shrinking the size of certain ICs, are leveling off even as IC miniaturization trends level off, Lary said.

The latest technology in hard drives, vertical recording, under which the bits are lined up vertically on the media instead of horizontally, helped push density up last year, Lary said. “It’s been the technology of the future for 15 years,” he said. “In 2005, manufacturers started shipping drives with it. But it’s only a one-time jump in density.”

Hard drive vendors are also looking at Heat Assisted Magnetic Recording (HAMR), Lary said. With HAMR, the drives will have a laser to heat up a tiny spot on a new type of hardened media in order to let a bit of data be written before that spot cools down. Lary said Seagate estimates that technology will be available in 2010. But then he looked at Steve Sicola, a friend of his and the vice president of advanced storage architecture at Seagate, and said, “Steve said that’s a little iffy for 2010.”

Another key fact about disk drives is that increases in capacity have outstripped increases in performance and will continue to do so in the future, Lary said.

That is pushing the hard drive industry to move to 2.5-inch hard drives over time from the more typical 3.5-inch hard drive seen today, as the smaller size platter, while having less capacity, allows greater performance. “3.5-inch hard drives shipping today already are coming with 2.5-inch platters,” he said.

Lary said that vendors are also developing 30,000 rpm hard drives, which double the speed of today’s fastest drives. However, he said that the power requirements to get that speed are huge, and so vendors may settle for 22,500 rpm drives for now.

Other new technologies still being developed to improve the hard drive of the future include vertical MEMS (Micro-Electrical-Mechanical Systems) and termomechanical storage. With vertical MEMs, the single hard drive read-write head moving across the spinning platter is replaced by thousands of tiny heads on a single chip that moves very little. Thermomechanical storage allows the writing of data at the atomic level, as demonstrated last year by IBM.

Lary said holographic optical storage also shows promise and may be commercially available this year, but performance is very low.

While hard drive vendors are looking at new ways to improve their drives, others are looking at ways to improve the performance and data protection characteristics of RAID, Lary said.

The main problem now is that RAID technology was developed at a time when a 1-Gbyte drive was a big drive. RAID protects data by making sure that the data is written across several drives so that if one drive fails, the data is available and can be used to rebuild the failed drive.

Unfortunately, as hard drive capacities improve, the chance of double failures, where two drives fail at the same time, increases because of the time needed to rebuild the new large-capacity drives. “Bigger disks mean larger rebuilt times after each failure,” Lary said. “And one hard drive error stops the rebuild.”

That becomes a major concern in enterprise data centers, where the large number of high-capacity drives is causing the mean time to data loss (MTTDL), which Lary said is a better measure of reliability than mean time between failure (MTBF), to continually fall.

This is especially true as enterprise data centers increase their adoption of SATA drives, which since they are based on desktop drives, emphasize capacity and low cost over performance and reliability, Lary said. “If you have one petabyte of desktop drives with RAID 5, you could lose data twice a year,” he said.

The latest RAID technology to help counter that problem is RAID 6, under which two hard drives are kept as hot spares so that the loss of two drives at the same time should not disrupt operations. However, RAID 6 has the side effect of increasing the number of reads and writes for a drive by 50 percent, which increases the wear over time.

Other technology to supplant RAID 6, such as WEAVER codes, is also being developed, but can result in a doubling of the amount of capacity used in order to protect data without impacting performance, he said.

While hard drives typically come with five-year warranties, Lary said, “nobody keeps hard drives for five years. But in the future, as hard drives don’t become obsolete as quickly as now, people will keep them longer, and so the failure rate will be higher.”

The other problem with RAID, Lary said, is loss of sleep. “If 6 percent of hard drives fail, you are going to lose sleep until the rebuild is done,” he said.

John Randall, business development manager at Nth Generation, who took the stage after Lary, said that as a marketing guy, he understands what Lary is talking about when he talks about RAID 6 and WEAVER problems.

“I understand that that if you want RAID 6 for 1 petabyte of storage, you need 2 petabytes,” Randall said. “And remember, you can get that from Nth Generation.”

All About Data Recovery

At some point in time, everyone who owns a computer will experience the trials and tribulations of hard drive failure. The reasons behind it vary, and could include everything from a human error to damages resulting from flood or water. Viruses can play a role as well, along with many other factors. For many years, the need to recover data that has been lost or destroyed has made data recovery such a very valuable asset.

Almost all hard drives can be recovered. Normally, if the drive is making a ticking or a scratching noise, you can use certain software programs to recover the data. Sometimes, due to age or bad parts, the aperture arm in the hard drive can fail, or the platters can become damaged and lose the data that they hold. If you can’t recover the information with software, you’ll need to send the hard drive off and have it either rebuilt or have technicians recover your data.

Data recovery is always an option, from hard drives that are 2 GB in size to the largest of over 300 GB or more of data. No matter what size hard drive you have, the data can generally be recovered. Keep in mind that if you’ve had a computer crash, you’ll need to send the hard drive off to have the data recovered by technicians.

One of the key benefits of data recovery is the fact that information can also be retrieved from the recycle bin as well. Partition recovery, and even information that has been lost somewhere on the disk can be retrieved as well. Even though it may seem like your data is gone forever – the technicians that specialize in data recovery can retrieve it.

From Windows to Mac, everything can be recovered. There are different filing structures and formats, including NTFS and FAT32. These are common Windows filing structures, and hold all of the information for your hard.

Those of you who have multiple hard drives in your computer, can rest assured that RAID configurations can also be recovered. If a single hard drive on the RAID configuration fails, the RAID setup will absorb the blow and there won’t be a loss of data. On the other hand, if the entire RAID configuration crashes, it will crash big time. Whenever this happens, you’ll need to send it off and have technicians restore both the RAID hardware and software.

Anytime your hard drive happens to crash or malfunction, data recovery is there to help you get back your files. Whether they are personally files or very important files that are need for business – you can put your trust in data recovery and know that you’ll get everything the back the way it was.

Every drive is going to die!

The information-technology manager’s life is not always an easy one. But it becomes a whole lot harder if you lose your company’s e-mail because of a faulty hard drive on a new e-mail server.

That happened not once, not twice, but three times so far this year to Tom Nortje, an IT manager for FCE Benefits Administrators oin the Western Cape.

Losing your company e-mail is always a headache. But Nortje needed every single message back as fast as possible. His company acts as a go-between for workers and their health plans. Any one of its e-mail messages could have carried an approval for a life-saving treatment.

So he turned to the data-recovery specialists at Data Detect. In each case, DD restored the data in a matter of hours and recovered to DVD’s.

Now he has formalized his company’s recovery plans, and specified who will get the job. “If all else fails, I’m going to go to Data Detect” he said.

We are starting to see the same customers again and again, as companies discover that no matter how careful they are, occasionally they are going to lose critical data off a computer hard drive that has quit working. And more and more often, companies are deciding that it’s worth spending some money to get that data back.

We have seen a 40 percent increase in repeat customers in Southern Africa in 2006 over 2005.

Experts say the increase in visits is not due to crummier hard drives. In fact, the opposite is true. Even while manufacturers cram more data onto the spinning platters, the life span of the average hard drive is increasing.

But businesses are running their computers harder and longer, and that greater wear is outstripping improvements in reliability.

With so many more computers in use, the odds are better than ever that some will conk out.

Additionally, the popularity of laptop computers in business has led to more work for data-recovery companies. Data Detect have seen laptops that have been dropped, backed over by corporate jets, crushed by farm tractors, set on fire by candles and, in one case, flushed part way down a toilet by an angry user.

And hard drives, the disk spinning inside the machine, simply start wearing out. It’s no different than if you drove your car forever.

Of course, companies try to avoid failures by backing up their data, but that doesn’t always happen. In fact, today’s more-complex networks make it almost impossible to create a perfect back-up system, Companies have to trade off the cost of backing up everything versus paying for the occasional data recovery.

But the No. 1 reason businesses are using data-recovery services more often is that they store more critical data than a decade ago.

“If I’m running a business off a server, and it crashes, that business isn’t going anywhere until that server goes back up,” said Doug Chandler, a storage and software services analyst with IDC in Pretoria.

Home-based businesses are just learning this lesson. One of our partners in Cape Town, makes an average of one data-recovery house call a week. “Their business is their life and they’re very good at their business,” he said of his customers, “But they’re not looking down the road and realising how much their data is in fact their business.”

To serve its repeat customers, Data Detect has streamlined the paperwork to ensure that it can turn around a hard drive shipped to them in three to five days. In some cases, requisition forms are kept on file so companies don’t have a delay.

Most companies don’t like to talk about data recovery, but some argue that especially now, with tighter regulations on data privacy, it’s smart to formalise your relationship with the company rescuing your data.

“You want a level of confidence with your data-recovery vendor,” says a leading private bank in Johannesburg. The account with Data Detect includes a nondisclosure agreement. “You don’t want just some mom-and-pop shop.”

“Every drive is going to die,” said Chanon, a Data Detect data-recovery engineer.

Computers at risk from heat

Businesses are at risk of losing data if they subject their IT equipment to extreme heat such as leaving laptops in their motocars for prolonged times.

Anti-melt down measures for laptops, PCs and servers should be adopted which is dealing with a spike in data loss enquiries coinciding with high temperatures and thunderstorms.

The biggest risk to PCs and laptops is from power surges and blackouts if they become overheated by direct or indirect lightning strikes or the hot climate.

Tips to protect data include keeping computers in a cool, dry area to prevent overheating, avoiding having too many computers running off one power supply, via an extension cable and installing a surge protector between the power socket and the computer’s power cable.

It is recommended that businesses should check protection devices regularly and use dedicated circuits and ensure IT equipment is not sharing power with air conditioners and fans.

During a thunderstorm, businesses should turn off and disconnect the power cord, and unplug any telephone lines from a modem jack as high voltages can enter a computer through a phone line connected to the modem.

Businesses should also turn off power during a blackout and those with network servers should invest in some form of uninterruptible power supply, which cleans the power supply and features backup batteries to keep servers running during power outages.

Severe weather can cause significant computer damage. The power of nature cannot be stopped, but certain steps can be taken to safeguard IT systems against imminent summer storms and high temperatures.

HDD’s Damaged Due To Poor Packaging

Proper packaging of hard drives is essential to avoiding costly physical damage, yet thousands of drives are unnecessarily damaged due to poor packaging every year—many of them during shipment to data recovery companies.

Data Detect has received both over-packed and under-packed drives “We had one client wrap his drive in bubble wrap until it was over 30cm,” “On the other hand, we’ll get drives that were simply stuck in envelopes without padding nearly every day.”

Some of the more unusual packaging choices have made recoveries very difficult. “We had a client who wrapped his drive in duct tape, no sort of box or packaging, and put his shipping label over the top of it. Another time, a client completely disassembled his drive and sent us the parts—needless to say, that didn’t make our job much easier.”

And though it sounds obvious, something as simple as proper postage can derail a recovery for weeks—sometimes years. We were surprised when one shipping service handed us a package from a client that had been lost in their mail system for over twelve months. “We called the client, and he still needed his data. Within a few days, we had it recovered and sent it back to him—using a different shipping service, of course.”

While most improperly packaged cases ended up recovered, clients looking to keep costs down should take care when packaging their drives. We recommends packing hard drives in an anti-static bag, snugly surrounded by about 3-5 inches of static-free bubble wrap and placed an a medium sized box (small enough that the drive does not have any mobility inside the box during shipment).

Even with the clearest of standards, Data Detect offer its clients free coolection and delivery services nation wide via Fedex.

“Of course, anything that keeps the cost of recovery down is something we’d recommend. With a little bit of care, there’s no reason for a drive to be damaged in shipment.”

Article by *Hilary Davis*

*About Data Detect*
Becoming the most trusted name in the data recovery industry in Southern Africa, Data Detect offers fast, highly technical data recovery. With an exceptionally high recovery rate we have extensive experience with all manner of hard drives, and offer *free* evaluations for *all* of our data recovery services.

Important Shipping Guidelines

To increase the likelihood of a successful recovery, please protect your media during shipment. Since drive components are extremely delicate, any jarring of the hardware can cause additional damage and can make the recovery more difficult than necessary. Please implement the following steps to help protect your media during shipment:
* The damaged media should be placed in anti-static bubble wrap,
anti-static foam or an anti-static bag and placed in a box – we suggest a box twice the size of your media.
* The box should have enough room for both the media and some type of additional packing material that allows for NO movement. The box should also have sufficient barrier room around the inside edges to absorb impact during shipping.
* If you have multiple drives, tapes or other removable media that need recovery, ship them in separate boxes or make sure they are separated enough with packing material so there will be no contact.
* As always, if you have any questions about packaging damaged media please contact a data recovery specialist at *011-234-4757*.