A computer crash can be catastrophic. Years of memories, documents, and the carefully curated playlists become consigned to oblivion. The crash might be caused by malware, data corruption, security breach, or any number of inconveniences.

Of course, it is 2018 so this isn’t necessarily true all the time. A computer crash requires delicacy in order to safely recover the at-risk data. To retrieve data effectively, there are some  essential need-to-know basics, and all have been compiled right here.

What exactly is data recovery?

Data recovery involves restoring data that has been lost, deleted, or made unreachable for various reasons on a hard-drive or other storage devices. It can be the result of something as  simple as accidentally deleting a file or a more complicated process.

In the case of a computer crash, chances are all files have been compromised or put at-risk for some reason. The goal of recovery is to retrieve all files and restore them to a proper electronic storage space.

How is data stored?

Every computer utilizes memory and relies on hard drives to store files. Hard drives are composed of different disks that reads and write data. If your hard drive is compromised, so is the data. Every computer has an Operating System (OS) that is responsible for tracking what files are stored where. When a file is deleted, the OS moves the file elsewhere on the computer but doesn’t delete it entirely. If files are deleted in a crash, the OS is the route to recovery.

What are file recovery methods?

Data can be recovered in a number of different ways. The most important rule in data recovery is that once the disk is overwritten, the old data is gone. If this occurs, no method can recover that data. This is why no new files should be written on a disk before attempting data recovery. For files that are not overwritten, there are a few different techniques to recover data.

  • Recovery through analysis of file/folder information

With this method, files will be recovered with original name, date/time stamps, and data. Software starts by trying to process the first copy of a file. If files were only accidentally deleted, this is the only step to take.

However, in the more serious case of a computer crash, the first copy of files will be more damaged to recover at first sweep. In this case, the software will scan a second time. If successful, the folders and files will be reconstructed.

  • Recovery using search methods (raw file recovery)

After the first method, a second route can be taken. In this method, the file names, date/time stamps, and overall structure of the disk cannot be recovered. There will be a search for known file types by searching for “file signatures.” Those signatures are common patterns that mark the beginning and an end of a file. An example of a file signatures is a .png (portable network graphic), among other examples like .jpeg and .mp3.

There are limitations of this method, even though it is the best method when systems are heavily damaged. A limitation is the recognition process. Some raw file types have a beginning but no discernible end, creating an unrecognizable file signature. In this case, the file maybe recovered in fragments rather than as the original file.

Call in the Experts

If you aren’t comfortable with the intricacies of computer software and data recovery, there are experts to help with this.

Data recovery can be tricky and the technical nuances of the process can create a stressful experience. Specialists can assist in repairing your computer and prioritize recovering data while alleviating this stress. Experts, like Computer Fixperts, can recover data lost from many types of issues – from computer crashes to hard drive damage. When in doubt, trust your documents, data, emails, music, and photos to experts.

Essentially, remember that lost data doesn’t have to stay lost! There are steps to take and software systems that can bring back files and folders. At the end of the day, specialists are available to help, so you are not alone in this process.