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Wednesday, June 2, 2021

After the cancellation of the CBSE exam, will the Gujarat Board Std-12 exam be taken now or not? The decision will be taken at today's cabinet meeting.

After the cancellation of the CBSE exam, will the Gujarat Board Std-12 exam be taken now or not? The decision will be taken at today's cabinet meeting.




Many data recovery firms have a policy stating that if they cannot recover the data, there is no charge. Others take a different approach: Rather than giving you an upfront estimate without examining the actual drive, these companies tell you the full charge only after you've sent them the device and they've had a chance to look it over. It takes a leap of faith to use this type of data recovery firm, but there's more certainty for the rest of the process. 


In most cases, at least some data can be recovered, but don't expect to get every single file back, particularly from a heavily worn or damaged drive. That said, a good recovery firm will extract a surprising amount of data from a drive that is thought to be dead. 


A simple software problem might cost several hundred dollars to fix, while a minor mechanical failure might run $1,000 or more. Fixing a major hardware problem and extracting the data could cost several thousand dollars, and a dead RAID array might run tens of thousands of dollars. 


Keep in mind that time is money. In other words, ask yourself how long you can go without the data. If the drive held historical information or company policies, several weeks might be fine. But if the data contains online orders, payroll information or design plans for a new product, even a few days can seem like an eternity. Recovery of data from typical software failures might be possible in a day or two, while a minor hardware failure could take several days. A major hardware problem on a high-capacity drive could involve a week or two of work to repair and extract its data. Some firms take several weeks, depending on how busy they are, the complexity of the problem and whether they need to order parts for a damaged drive.


If you need the data urgently, the recovery company can do the repair and recovery work on a rush basis, meaning the firm's technicians will work 24/7, handing off the device and data at shift changes. This way, it's worked on until the project is done, and you have your data back quickly. This kind of service is expensive, however, and it still may take more time than you'd expect.


Then, there is the question of what types of devices the company supports. Data can come from a traditional hard drive, a solid-state drive, RAID arrays, network-oriented storage (like NAS or SAN), tape drives, cloud storage, smartphones, tablets, laptops, servers, SD cards, USB thumb drives, DVDs, CDs or even more obsolete types of storage, such as Zip drives or floppy disks.


BUYING GUIDE


Features to Look for in a Hard Drive Recovery Service


When you're evaluating data recovery firms to extract data from a broken drive, it's important to consider the following features:


Clean room for hardware examination


Upfront estimate of charges


How long the company has been in business


The number of labs and where they are located


The types of devices handled


Overnight shipping of the drive (or courier service)


For ultrasensitive information, data recovery services that come to you


The option to have extracted data sent digitally


Rush service for critical data


The ability to repair broken hardware


Top security with SOC Type II certification or more specialized certifications, like HIPAA


Device manufacturer certification or acknowledgement


Whether the data will be wiped completely when the work is done


How to Choose a Data Recovery Service

The first step in recovering data from a dead or damaged drive is to contact a data recovery firm. Better yet, do your research beforehand, and pick a preferred vendor before you need one.  


A word of warning: Hundreds of small services promise to do data recovery on-site but are really just drop-off centers for larger firms. Look for a company that has an on-site clean room for repairs, stocks the parts needed to fix a variety of drives quickly, adheres to strict security protocols and recovers data from all sorts of digital storage devices, including computer hard drives, RAID arrays, file server drives, tablets, cameras, flash drives and SD cards. In other words, look for a comprehensive approach to recovering data from a wide variety of storage failures. [Want to learn more about RAID recovery services and hardware? Check out our reviews.]  


In addition, consider whether the company is transparent about how it operates. Some are the opposite of the small firms in that they claim to have dozens of offices or more that are really just affiliates that  receive a cut of the price for referrals. Some firms operate under a "doing business as" name for a differently named corporation, and some muddy their actual location or even mention an office when, in reality, evidence suggests they don't work from there. When someone has your data, you want to know where it is.


On top of liberating data on locked drives and recovering passwords, many data recovery specialists work with encrypted drives and can recover lost items from VMware storage failures that use protocols such as Hyper-V and Oracle databases. An increasing number of data recovery operations focus on cleaning up malware-infected drives and extracting the business data they hold. In other words, if your company is hit by ransomware, data recovery may be your best bet.


How Does a Hard Drive Work?


When we tap or click to open a file, we rarely think about the intricate digital ballet that goes on behind the scenes to put the information on the screen. At the center of this process is the hard drive that stores a system's data. Despite becoming more rugged and reliable over the decades, the hard drive can be the weak link in the chain of saving and recalling company data. However, newer forms of data storage have their own problems and can be less durable than traditional drives. Or data may be on old forms of storage, such as floppy disks or tapes, and the company no longer has compatible hardware to read it.


About the size of a paperback, a traditional hard drive relies on a series of data-holding discs that spin at nearly 10,000 rotations per minute and are controlled by sophisticated electronics. Miniature magnetic read-write heads at the end of a thin actuator arm ride over the surface, dropping off and picking up data. A failure of any component can lead to a loss of data.


While they may be more expensive than traditional hard drives, flash storage or SSDs can be more reliable. They store data electronically in semiconductor chips that don't have any moving parts, so they can withstand punishment. However, this type of storage has a limited life span of close to 100,000 read-write cycles. For most uses, that's plenty, and built-in software spreads the wear out over all of the chips. 


The bottom line for businesses is that the longer SSD storage is used, the more fragile its ability will be to recall data. This can be a death sentence for your files if the drive is continually written and rewritten, as is the case with a file server.


Some good news is that Windows 10 can now warn users that an SSD is failing, giving them ample opportunity to back up files. Because this feature runs at the operating-system level, it is designed to detect problems on all drives, regardless of whether the computer has self-monitoring analysis and reporting technology.


If a failure is imminent, Windows displays an alert on the computer screen saying, "A storage device may be at risk of failure and requires your attention." Users who receive that notification should back up all important data from that drive, Microsoft advises. Users can then go to the Storage Settings page to see additional details about the issue. Secure Data recommends using the 3-2-1 backup method, which involves committing to "a total of three backups: two on physical storage and one in virtual storage, such as the cloud."


What Is Data Recovery?


Regardless of how the data is stored, you face the risk of experiencing a data failure, which is why you need to be prepared with an effective data recovery plan.  


Even if you think your data is gone, all hope is not lost. Here are three methods of data recovery to consider:   


Off-the-shelf recovery software. These apps work exclusively with software or logical failures of the drive and are worth a try. Both Windows and macOS include recovery software, but there are commercial versions that are more thorough. After you plug the errant drive into a computer, the app scans the disk's surface, sniffing out data anomalies. After scanning the disk, the software can rebuild broken links, reconnect data to its file allocation table entry, fix data that's been scattered across the drive and often recover deleted files. However, multiple data recovery companies warn that using these kinds of utilities can create additional problems. If there are damaged sectors or hardware, the software will put even more strain on the storage device or may end up overwriting the lost data you're trying to recover.


Data recovery service. If off-the-shelf software doesn't solve the problem, the next step is to use a data recovery service. The best data recovery firms use industrial-strength software that delves much deeper into the disk's files and structure and can make more-complicated changes. In other words, it takes a deeper dive into the data and extracts all it can. If you're lucky, this will be all it takes to get the data back.


Service by a data recovery technician. If there's hardware damage, the drive should only be opened in a clean room so that technicians can diagnose the drive's problem. A single speck of dust in the wrong place destroys a drive and the data it holds. A data recovery clean room should be certified under specifications from the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), which sets global standards for many areas of technology. For clean rooms, the reference is ISO 14644-1, which has largely replaced the older equivalent U.S. federal standard, FS 209E. A clean room for data recovery will be either ISO 4 (Class 10) or ISO 5 (Class 100). Class 10 and 100 mean having fewer than 10 or 100 particles, respectively, that measure 0.5 microns or larger, per cubic foot of air in the clean room. ISO 4 and ISO 5 require fewer than 352 and 3,520 particles of that size per cubic meter of air, respectively. By contrast, the air around us typically has millions of such particles per cubic foot. 


After fixing hardware issues, technicians extract as much of your data as possible and either transfer it to a new device, which they return along with your original equipment, or let you download encrypted digital files. Some recovery companies securely dispose of the original drive if you want them to.


How Data Recovery Works


The first step in recovering data from a dead or damaged drive is to contact a data recovery firm. Better yet, do your research upfront and pick a preferred vendor before you need one. Being proactive means that the data recovery company is standing by waiting for your misbehaving drive.  


A word of warning when choosing a data recovery service: Hundreds of small services promise data recovery onsite that are nothing more than intake centers for larger recovery firms. A good indication of their abilities is if they have a cleanroom onsite for repairs, stock the parts needed to fix a variety of drives quickly, adhere to strict security protocols, and if they can recover data from all sorts of digital storage devices – computer hard drives, RAID arrays, file server drives, even tablets, cameras, flash drives, and SD cards. In other words, look for a comprehensive approach to recovering from a wide variety of storage failures. [Want to learn more about RAID recovery services and hardware? Check out our reviews.]  


On top of liberating data on locked drives and recovering passwords, many data recovery specialists work with encrypted drives and can recover lost items from VMware storage failures that use protocols like Hyper-V and Oracle databases. An increasing number of data recovery operations focus on cleaning up malware-infected drives and extracting the business data they hold. In other words, if your company is hit by a ransomware virus, data recovery may be your best bet.


How to Know if You Need a Hard Drive Recovery Service


A quick evaluation via phone or a web form generally gets the data recovery process started. The company will determine what the symptoms are, how long it will take to do the repair and how much it will cost. It's a good idea to have the drive handy so you can provide the model and serial numbers.  


Be ready to describe the drive's behavior, such as not registering on your computer, operating slowly, or disconnecting or hanging on reading data. There might also be scraping, buzzing or grinding noises that indicate specific problems. 


Most important, check for odd smells or burn marks on the drive's case. If any of these sounds, sights or smells show up, stop using the drive to avoid inflicting further data damage. 


It's preferable to find a data recovery firm that is recognized by the specific hardware manufacturer to do the needed repairs, but that's not always possible. For example, one firm noted that Seagate has no such program because the company has its own data recovery business. However, make sure the firm has dealt with your type of drive, as different manufacturers often use proprietary technology that varies among vendors. 


In some cases, the repair might be covered by the device's warranty. If so, don't contact a service provider directly. Instead, go to the company that sold the device to you, or possibly to the manufacturer itself, depending on the terms and conditions of the warranty.


Security Concerns


When you're choosing a data recovery service, security is paramount. The recovery firm needs to assure you of its ability to keep your data confidential. It's a good idea to work only with recovery companies that receive annual audits consistent with SOC Type II or SSAE 18 standards (which replace the older SAS 70 and SSAE 16 standards). As with other types of certifications, ask to see an official certificate or other proof of compliance, rather than just a logo on a website.


The best recovery companies have security guards, electronic door locks and video surveillance to limit (and record) who has access to your company's drives and data. Plus, once the company has finished recovering your data, it needs to wipe every bit of your data from its computers. Using a multipass military-grade shredding program is a good step. Some firms will keep the data on a separate drive and then destroy that drive. Any firm should keep its copy of the data for several days to two weeks to be sure there are no problems and you don't need another copy.


While some data recovery firms have intricate firewalls to keep hackers out of their computers (and your data), others take this approach a step further by working on your data only with computers that are not connected to the internet, thereby isolating your data from a dangerous online world. 


Recommendations or third-party accreditations can also help in your data recovery decision. Check the firm's BBB rating, and see whether the company is on the GSA contractor list. 


Once you've chosen a data recovery service, the actual work can start. Many (though not all) companies send an overnight shipping label or a padded box for you to ship the broken drive.


For ultra-high-priority data, there are a couple of alternatives. Rather than having you overnight the device, some data recovery services send a courier to pick up the drive and maintain a chain-of-custody document for the device. This method is often faster and is potentially of interest for those involved in legal cases. However, even the larger recovery services have at most a few lab locations, so a courier service could be very expensive if you aren't near a lab.


Another approach for drives that can't leave your building is to have the data recovery experts come to your shop. Although this method gets pricey very quickly, it may be the only choice if you're dealing with  ultrasensitive data, such as product plans or matters of national security. 


If the problem is with the software (rather than the hardware), some recovery firms can remotely connect and attempt to rescue your data.


When the recovery work is done and the data is restored, you need to get access to it as soon as possible. Most data recovery firms put the recovered data onto a clean drive and ship it to you, and once you receive it, it should take only a few minutes to add the recovered data to your digital infrastructure. 


Many data recovery firms offer to transmit your data via a secure server. If you do this, make sure the data gets encrypted with at least AES-256 coding. Although this method can speed up the integration of files back into your company's digital infrastructure, there is a downside: Many data recovery firms limit the amount of data they will transmit to between 5GB and 30GB.


Should You Get Data Insurance?


All of the stress and expense surrounding a data emergency can be avoided. If you talk to a data recovery firm before the data is missing, you might preempt a data problem. 


That's because many data recovery operations also act as data safety and reliability consultants. They can look for weaknesses in your current systems and suggest ways to avoid a failure and lessen the effects of a data disaster. Some offer hard drive service plans that promise to recover lost data in the event of a drive failure. 


More than any technique, having an effective way to back up your company's data is the best insurance against drives going bad. Using this process, whenever a file is changed, it is incrementally backed up online, locally or on a file server. Having the data in two places reduces the risk that it will be lost and puts your mind at ease. Maintaining multiple copies of backups – with one on premises for quicker access and another off-site in case something happens to your physical location – is a standard practice.


Frequently Asked Questions


HOW IS DATA RECOVERY DONE?


When a file is deleted from your hard drive, it's never truly gone. Generally, operating systems maintain their files using specific markers that delineate where the item begins and ends on the hard disk. When a file is deleted, those markers are changed from a 1 to a 0, making them unreadable and designating the file's disk space as reusable.


As long as the data isn't overwritten with something new, that old file still exists and can be recovered. If a file has been partially overwritten, only part of the file can be recovered. Hard drive recovery solutions work by finding those files, putting them back together and marking them as recoverable items.


WHY IS DATA RECOVERY IMPORTANT?


Losing an important file, either to system failure or human error, can be extremely detrimental to any small business. Without the option to recover the file, every deletion becomes permanent.


HOW LONG DOES DATA RECOVERY TAKE?


The time it takes to recover missing data depends on several factors. If you're recovering just a handful of files, then the size of each file plays a huge role. The larger the file is, the longer it will take to recover, since its data is usually scattered throughout the drive instead of being kept as a single block. The condition and size of the hard drive also matter, because a larger capacity means more sectors to scan. For the best odds of recovering any deleted or damaged files, expect a wait time of at least a couple of days (or up to a couple of weeks in the case of major hardware issues).


HOW CAN I RECOVER MY DATA FOR FREE?


There are many free hard drive data recovery tools available on the internet. In most cases, all it takes is a simple download and installation to get started. While that may seem like a worthwhile avenue to take, most free solutions have some glaring limitations, such as file size restrictions, limited file system support and infrequent updates. Many free options are available only for personal use, so using them in a commercial setting could result in legal problems if the license owner finds out. In some cases, such as when there are mechanical or electrical problems, these free tools can further damage drives.


HOW SUCCESSFUL IS DATA RECOVERY?


Hard drive data recovery is only as successful as the structural integrity of the file you're trying to restore. Depending on how a file was lost, data solution efforts have varying degrees of success. A simple deletion can be reversed if the data wasn't overwritten, but losing a file on a solid-state drive could require a more expensive and arduous repair, given the nature of that hardware. You will have a better chance of successful data recovery by using a professional-grade hard drive recovery solution. Many companies claim recovery rates such as 95% or 98%, but these numbers can be misleading. How much of the data must be recovered to count as a successful recovery effort? Does the firm count all of its attempts, or might it rule out certain classes that are more likely to fail?


HOW DO STORAGE DEVICES FAIL?


Since their introduction in the 1950s, hard drives have been just one of many methods people have used to store digital data. Over time, other types of storage – like floppy disks, tape drives, USB thumb drives, storage cards and solid-state drives – have been invented. Storage has gotten smaller and more complex over the years, meaning it has a higher chance of failure.


Traditional hard disk drives (as opposed to the newer flash-based SSDs) rely on an intricate system of motors, magnets and spinning metal platters, and the many moving parts are prone to fail over time. Excessive overheating, water damage or sudden shocks to the hard drive's chassis, along with many other mishaps, can cause physical hardware failure. If a data platter is damaged, it may be extremely difficult or impossible to recover data, but it will depend on the specifics of the problem.


Other failures involve software rather than the hardware itself. Issues such as corrupted files, malware, software bugs or even human error can affect any hard drive. These "logical errors," as they're often called, crop up in different ways. If you're noticing that data has been disappearing, you can't access certain files anymore or parts of files are not loading properly, it could be a sign that your hard drive is failing.


IS DATA RECOVERY DIFFERENT FOR DESKTOP AND LAPTOP HARD DRIVES?


Though their hard drives are different sizes, laptop and desktop computers use the same kind of hard drive. If the issue plaguing your hard drive is software-based, then there will be nothing different between the two types of drives. If it's a mechanical issue, drives can vary in the components they use, how quickly discs can spin, data capacity and electrical interface to a computer. The required tools and the amount of space a technician will have to work with the physical components can vary greatly as well.


ARE DATA RECOVERY SERVICES SAFE?


Giving a stranger access to your hard drive and files can be a scary proposition for many, but when you're considering a hard drive recovery service, check the company's privacy statement. Look for a service that commits to having every employee undergo a background check and training for handling sensitive data. The company's facility must also be secure and commit to regular audits of the firm's privacy efforts.


CAN DATA LOSS BE PERMANENT?


In most instances, a professional can recover data from a failing drive as long as it's never been overwritten. Once portions or the entirety of a file is overwritten with other data, the old data is lost forever.


Data can also be permanently lost if there is physical trauma to the hard drive. If a hard drive functions for a long time with failing internal mechanisms, significant damage can ruin the spinning platters where data is stored. Hard drives that suffered fire or flood damage may have lost their data, although sometimes these, too, can be recovered. A loss of magnetic field – for example, if someone degausses a drive – will permanently destroy any data.


DO DATA RECOVERY COMPANIES LOOK AT YOUR FILES?


In general, the most information a data recovery technician sees when working to recover digital files is the file names. There's no reason for a tech to access and open any digital files, especially if the files have nothing to do with the hard disk repair or data recovery.


SHOULD YOU REUSE AN OLD HARD DRIVE IN A NEW COMPUTER?


When building or purchasing a new computer, you may want to reuse the hard drives installed in your old machine. Whether or not you should do that depends largely on how old the drive is and how much free space it has left.


Like most electronic hardware, a hard drive has an expected life span. As traditional spinning-disc hard drives get older, they become more susceptible to mechanical failure. If your old hard drive is already several years old, you're better off purchasing a new drive and transferring your old data over. However, if the drive is relatively new, reusing it may make sense.


A flash-based drive, like an SSD or an NVMe, has moving parts, but SSDs can differ in their quality of components and construction, which can affect their life spans. Also, although these drives can last years, there is a limit to how many times you can write to them.


Don't expect to reuse drives that you send in for repair. Even though the recovery company may fix the hardware problems, it does so to get the data off the device, so the original drive won't be fit for further use.


Methodology


When reviewing hard drive recovery services, we looked at the complete range of services offered by 25 leaders and/or well-known names in the industry. We dismissed two national chains that require a stop at a store for an initial consultation with people who are not recovery experts, leaving 23 that we researched.


Ultimately, we narrowed the field to five top picks. The services we included meet the criteria any small business should look for in a hard drive recovery service. In addition to airtight security, features we looked for included the options for shipping the drive back and forth, the company's skill in removing malware from a drive, the ability to do the work at your site, and the capacity to extract data from a variety of data devices, including RAID arrays, tablets and flash drives. 


For security purposes, it's important for companies to know who they're doing business with. Not all sites promoting data recovery services mentioned the location of their headquarters or the name of the parent company. We verified locations and checked for current filings with state and/or local authorities. If a firm seemed to avoid providing basic contact information, we struck it from the list.


We considered third-party endorsements from the Better Business Bureau and vendor listings with the Government Services Administration. We also researched the companies' labs and clean rooms. Although many firms tout a success record, almost all are between 95% and 98%. There is no third-party and objective measurement of exactly what constitutes success and no way to know if two firms measure it the same way. Nor is it certain whether these percentages apply to all device types and problems. For those reasons, we discontinued use of success records. 


In addition, we considered whether the companies were transparent about the process and pricing, and whether they offered rush service for data emergencies.


WHAT TO EXPECT IN 2021


The use of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) will likely continue to expand in 2021. Many hard drive recovery services use AI and ML, impacting storage devices such as SSDs and flash controllers. AI and ML help recover data with processes such as sorting, carving and XOR scrambler analysis.  


The use of AI and ML within the storage industry can increase data security, lower costs through hybrid storage clouds and provide more software-defined storage. With features such as automatic backups, updates and malware scans, AI and ML are influencing hard drive recovery trends and enhancing reliability.  


To support these AI and ML capabilities, hard drive recovery services must be able to work well with parallel file systems and flash-native tools, including NAND flash memory chips. The rise of neural storage, which uses AI to resolve issues without the need for human interference, is also expected to continue in 2021.


The COVID-19 pandemic will likely continue the elevated use of work-from-home policies, which could mean more demand for data recovery services, especially from top firms. Remote workers will likely store company data directly on their laptops and mobile devices, leaving sensitive information vulnerable and out of company hands. This could complicate practical and legal issues around storage failure and the need for recovery.


Therefore, it will be essential for companies to develop procedures for backing up corporate data from home devices to a cloud service that the company can access to ensure availability in case of problems. 




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