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Your Question:

What is my biggest risk when undertaking data recovery?

Our Answer:

Succinctly defined and simply put, your biggest risk in pursuing data recovery is needlessly and permanently losing your data.  This sort of loss will nearly always come about by means of unintended results which are the outcome of failed data recovery measures.

In this instance we are not talking about a failed hard disk drive that has catastrophically crashed and would not be recoverable by any means (such severity of failure repercussion is not common).  With catastrophic severity of drive failure, even though you may not yet know it, there is actually no risk at all — because there is no chance of successful data recovery.

No one wants to take on unnecessary risk, and in the context of data recovery, it's not even comfortable to talk about it.  Therefore, the least we can do before going further, is to give a relevant definition of the term "risk" as it applies to any and all data recovery operations...

A Definition for Data Recovery Risk:

When data, stored on a drive which has become faulty, is fully retrievable given use of best practices and well chosen procedures, RISK is where measures actually chosen are unsuccessful AND cause a worsening of the disk drive's condition so as data becomes unrecoverable by any means.

In other words, your data is at risk when it could have been recoverable at the time your hard drive first failed, or when the initial data recovery actions began — but, due to efforts taken to remedy the trauma, the inadvertent effects of well-intentioned recovery attempts caused your once recoverable data to become permanently lost.  Failed or otherwise inept data recovery attempts caused damage, and made the data become irretrievable by anyone, no matter their expertise or by any means, no matter the capability.  Risk is losing your data unnecessarily.

The root cause of such undesirable results stem more frequently from one particular starting place than any other.  That cause is physical damage, unintended though it may be, to the physical magnetic recording surfaces on the disk platters inside your drive, and it is very likely to be happening any time the platters are turning while the drive is no longer functioning correctly.  Avoiding precisely this scenario is how you can achieve preservation of your data.

Severe media damage in user data area, showing on a failed hard drive opened in a MicroCom cleanroom.

If your hard disk drive has failed and your data is of high importance, don't take chances.  To avoid permanently losing your data when statistically the chances, at the time of drive failure, for retrieving your lost data are well over 90%.  By employing anything less than best practices within the art and science of data recovery, the risk of increasing physical damage to your hard drive's data recording media rises with every single revolution of the disks.  Feel free to call MicroCom, and we'll explain to you how that happens.

NOTE:  In today's disk drives, a typical spindle rotation speed is 7200 rpm; that means that the platters in the drive turn completely around 120 times every one second!  The picture above shows a failed high-performance drive designed to spin at fifteen thousand RPM — that's 250 revolutions per second for this model.  This drive suffered a head-crash, as indicated by the circular scoring visible amid the otherwise mirror-like finish of the undamaged majority of the disk surfaces.  It is absolutely impossible to recover any data from the damaged portions of the magnetic media.  In any hard disk drive, due to today's very high spin speeds, it's possible that a lot of damage can take place in a short time.

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