10 tips to minimize data loss after a storm

Man in hurricane

As tech users, our primary concern is the durability of our devices and their longevity. With the hurricane season continuing its wrath, I have provided ten quick recommendations to minimize data loss on damaged storage devices after a storm. This can be anything from mobile phones and tablets to computer equipment.

In addition, as business professionals, educating employees ahead of time on preparation and best practices for data will significantly improve the possibility for a successful data recovery. It is imperative that preparation is a top priority for businesses and employees. Investing in a strong business continuity program will benefit you and your employees, particularly when it comes to data recovery. Some might be surprised by the fact that data loss is mostly caused by incorrect precautions taken rather than the actual damaged devices themselves.

If your media suffers water damage due to a storm, keep these 10 quick tips in mind:

  1. Never assume that data is unrecoverable, no matter what it has been through. Making assumptions is the worst thing you could do for your data. Often times, users will assume that data is unsalvageable after water damage, leaving them with lost hope and data that could have been recovered.
  2. Never attempt to plug in or turn on water-damaged devices. Plugging in a water-damaged device can cause further problems, which can deem data unrecoverable.
  3. Do not shake, disassemble or attempt to clean any hard drive or server that has been damaged. Improper handling of your devices can cause further damage, which can lead to data being unrecoverable. For a successful data recovery, it is best to not attempt to do any of these.
  4. If there is a RAID problem… test the backup by restoring it to a different location or image each drive from a RAID before attempting a rebuild.
  5. Never attempt to dry water-damaged media. Opening the media incorrectly can make it impossible for a professional to recover the data and exposing it to heat, such as that from a hairdryer, can damage the drive components. Also, once the media begins to dry, corrosion sets in. Keeping a water-damaged drive damp can actually improve your chances for a successful recovery.
  6. Restore any backups to a different volume. This will ensure that all important files are safe on the backup before possibly overwriting data on the active volume.
  7. Do not attempt to operate visibly damaged computers or hard drivers. Doing so could further damage and render your data unrecoverable.
  8. Do not freeze-dry media. This also causes irreparable damage to the device and can render data unrecoverable.
  9. Do not use common software utility programs on broken or water-damaged devices. Data recovery software is only designed for use on a drive that is completely and mechanically functioning.
  10. For mission-critical situations, contact a data recovery professional before any attempts are made to reconfigure, reinstall or reformat. Recovering time-sensitive materials is critical to the overall success of a business or individuals’ recovery. If you are unsure about which path to take with your data, it is always best to contact a professional immediately.

By taking these precautionary steps, the chances of a successful data recovery will be greater. The most important thing to take away is to never make assumptions about the potential of your data being recovered.

Image credit: Nomad_Soul/Shutterstock

David LogueDavid Logue assists customers around the world as the Senior Lead Data Recovery Engineer for Kroll Ontrack. With over 15 years of data recovery experience, Mr. Logue leads a team that specializes in the remote recovery of high-end SAN and NAS storage technologies using Kroll Ontrack’s patented Remote Data Recovery solution. He also works closely with development teams to communicate client needs, build innovative tools, and create solutions for specific data loss needs. Follow Kroll Ontrack on Twitter: @KrollOntrack.

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