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Data Recovery from UNIX File Systems

Proven UNIX Stability presents complications with failed hard disk drives

UNIX operating systems provide what are arguably the most stable platforms for organizations with large data processing and stability requirements. The fact that the Internet is built more UNIX than any other operating system underpins the popular opinion that it is the preferred choice for companies running database servers and other critical business applications.

UNIX's advantage comes from the fact that it requires no specially engineered hardware to operate. This versatility comes from its early development when Bell Labs gave the original UNIX code to academic institutions for training purposes. After much collaborative development it eventually evolved into an operating system that would come to be one of the most versatile and stable in history, with unrivalled file management and security capabilities.

The UNIX file system (UFS), usually referred to as the Berkeley Fast File System, is a descendant of the original file system that operated under UNIX v.7, released by Bell Labs in 1979. It is designed to be fast and reliable and operates by allocating blocks and consecutive sectors which hold the file information. UFS provides enhanced performance of file read / write operation through processes like disk cache algorithms, read-ahead or free-behind file techniques. This provides more efficient hard drive performance because the heads work less when reading files.

UNIX file system structures are hierarchical. File access is controlled by attributes while data blocks are allocated by inodes - the link between a file's name and its location. Inodes are grouped into cylinder groups which identify where numbers of inodes are held.

Data Recovery of UNIX File Systems

Because UNIX file systems come in so many varieties - UFS1, USF2, FFS, AIX, JFS, EXT2, EXT3, XFS and EFS to name but a few - it is important for failed systems and hard disk drives to be inspected by a technician experienced in UNIX data recovery.

Once we have received your hard drive we proceed to analyse the partition and volume verification, run a file system scan, investigate errors and run volume reports.

Overwritten files present a particular problem. We use a range of proprietary tools that identifies where the data has been overwritten and bypasses the file system to locate particular file types. Although the file names may be lost we can often still rescue the data within. Similarly, we can track ASCII data held on a drive and convert it into a text file. All our UNIX recovery tools and techniques comply with manufacturer's standard warranty requirements.

We recommend that you do not attempt to fix any drive failures yourself. UNIX file systems can be extremely complex and further operation of the unit or rebooting can easily lead to more damage or even complete loss of data. If your hard drive won't mount or is making any unusual sounds, especially ticking, whirring or clicking noises, shut down the system, remove the drive and contact us immediately for assessment and diagnosis.

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