Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Buying an External Hard drive: What you need to know!

With the prices external drives decreasing year per year and with the increasing demand in storing the data the need of buying external storage systems is a hot item nowadays. It’s an inexpensive way of increasing your storage capacity and performance or just getting on the safe side increasing your data security and back up. Just like companies think about redundancy and backup their data you are able to buy a external hard drive as a great backup solution.

External Hard drives: Raid Systems

Often external hard drives are raid systems and the problem is that they are not recognisable as such by a end consumer. The main reason for this is that they are sold as “normal” external hard drives. These external hard drives offer a large capacity 500 GB 1 TB, 1.5 TB 2 TB and they are sold as a cheap back up solution. Now without the consumer knowing it they then buy the system and are not aware of for example how many drives there are in the actual system. To give you a clear example you can buy a LaCie 1 TB external hard drive which can have 2x 500GB or 4x 250 GB hard drives. Another problem that a end consumer can face is with the setup of the Raid system. An external hard drive system can have a different bandwidth or parity if you buy a Maxtor, or a LaCie or an Iomega system. These things always come to play in case of a data loss. Then you are faced with losing all your files and you are suddenly aware that your backup solution was not a great solution at all.

Raid System explained:

The definition of Raid is still valid. Raid stands for Redundant Array of inexpensive Disks. There a two group based on they way of writing the data to the external hard drives namely


The data is written in on both drives on the same time. You will notice that you have a stripe raid system when you have a logical volume that is the same size as the amount of GB of the external hard drive. This does not apply for external storage arrays with only 1 hard drive. Striping can also be identified as a RAID 0.


The same data is written on the 2 hard drives at the same time. Basically you have 1 hard drive that is an exact copy of the other and that means that if you delete a file you also delete the file at the same time. You will notice if you have a mirror raid system when you have a logical volume that is half the size as the total amount of GB of the external hard drive. Mirroring can be also identified as a RAID 1.

3.RAID 5 Special attention:

Most external hard drives with more than 3 hard drives can also be used for a Raid 5 setup. There are called NAS systems and can be used as a network storage backup drive. RAID 5 uses the high performance capability of striping with the increased integrity of the parity bit By comparing the data on two of the drives, it can "fill in the blanks" on the third drive, just like solving an mathematic equation. You will notice if you have a raid 5 system when you have a logical volume that is third of the size as the total amount of GB of the external hard drive.(NAS)

Final Advice:

The one thing you have to remember is when you buy an external hard drive is to ask yourself the following question: What kind of system am I buying? Be absolutely sure of what kind of Raid system you want to use and for what purpose. Last but not least make sure you always have your data stored in at least two different media at the same time.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

How to Recover your Data from your Digital Camera

You also think that one picture says more than a thousand words? Then you should consider this reading this blog entry. In the good old days you have a ‘normal” camera where you were not supposed to hold the film into the light if you would ever see your pictures again. Nowadays most camera’s are digital and you can buy them from a 150 Euro onwards. Maybe you are using the new digital card from 1 or 2 GB and you have stored more than thousand of high definition photos. With some digital camera’s you can buy a so called digital wallet where you can store on a 6 Gigabyte hard drive all your photos. Still the risk of loosing your valuable photos is still there.

Data Loss Prevention

What not to do

To prevent a data loss from happening is always a better option than getting the data recovered. There are some things that are just as simple as using common sense but in practice often they are overlooked. For example you can have a data loss situation if you are pulling out your memory card from of the camera before it has finished writing. Or when you are low on battery the camera could not complete the auto shut down and you have a corruption in the file system of the digital card itself (FAT12/16). Almost the result is that the card is not recognized in the camera as well in any computer (PC- card Reader). If that is the case you should sent the card in to a data recovery provider.

What to Do:

So always make sure that your batteries are fully charged or that you have it connect to an external power source even when you are downloading the files directly into the computer. There might always occur read/ write problems from the digital camera to the Operating System and backwards. With the Microsoft® Windows® XP operating system you have the option to use the Safely Remove Hardware icon to the notification area anytime you insert a memory card or connect a digital camera to your computer. You should double-click this icon and click the Stop button before physically ejecting your card or disconnecting your camera. Also make sure you handle the digital memory card with care. The chip inside is electromagnetic charged so with a magnet you can easily corrupt the chip inside. In practice this can produce problems if you a near an electromagnetic area or you are electromagnetic charged.

Data Lost and now What? How to Recover..

For any hardware problems with the Digital Memory card (the chip, interface or controller) you always will need a data recovery company in order to get your data back. If the card is recognized by Windows you would be able to use data recovery software to recovery your data. For example if you have erased you photos per accident you still would be able to retrieve your data with data recovery software very easily. The only thing that matters is if you have erased the card with the PC or with the digital camera itself. Some digital camera finishes the deletion process with writing zero across the board. In this case you will find that you can not recover you data.

Because normally when a file is deleted from a digital media card, the bits that store the information aren't actually removed. Instead, the entry for that file is removed from the "table of contents" (file allocation table, or FAT) on the card, and the space that the file occupied is marked as being available. As long as a new file isn't written over the same location on the card, you will most likely be able to recover at least some files from the card.

When the digital card is not being read, it usually involves corruption in the FAT. For example, if you remove a card from your camera before the data has been completely written, the FAT isn't updated with the latest file information. With a corrupted FAT, the roadmap to the files on the card is destroyed. Even though the data is still there, it can't be accessed correctly. While most of the images may remain intact, your camera or computer won't be able to make sense of the data on the card. In this case you will be able to recover you data by using a piece of data recovery software.

Here are some use full links to download Photo Recovery software:


Thursday, December 6, 2007

Data Recovery Services for all brands and all media

The data recovery process explained

Whether you have problems with data loss on your Raid 1, Raid 5 Server or with a normal single hard drive or other storage media like USB and Flash media, you might think about opting for a data recovery. Data recovery consists in getting the data recovered from a damaged storage media. This is brand independent. If the storage media is a IBM, Western Digital, Toshiba, Maxtor, Seagate, Hitachi; Samsung; Fujitsu ,LaCie you always can initiate a data recovery process.

The data recovery process

Normally with a data recovery you can have a free evaluation before going for the real data recovery. In a normal data recovery process you will receive a first a fixed quote after the analysis. The prices may vary from the type of damage you have sustained. Some data recoveries let you charge for the diagnostic, or for spare parts or for the return shipment and putting the data on a new hard drive or to any additional work that was not included in the first quote. Always be aware of hidden fees and make sure that you have value for your money.

After your approval you the data recovery company goes ahead of getting the data of the damaged hard drive. The data recovery company produces often a file listing where you actually can verify if you data have been completely recovered. After that they will store the data onto a new storage medium and the data recovery process is completed.

Sometimes you actually do not need a data recovery and it’s just a matter of running some DIY software and you can get you data back very easily. The best thing you can look for is for a data recovery company that has a certified data recovery process and that takes on the risk for the complete data recovery. This means that the data recovery does not charge you anything if your data can not be recovered

Raid Recovery Process explained

With a Raid 5 system things get complicated, with 2 hard drives down you might always need a data recovery since with two damaged hard drives you cannot rebuild the complete raid system. With a parity loss a Raid 5 system becomes an unstable system. Raid 1 is a different ball game since this system is based on a striped system. This means having the benefit of getting the maximum amount of storage space but the downfall is that the data is being written at once across the two hard drives. With one hard drive damaged the entiry data structure get lost and the data is not accesible any more.

A Raid data recovery is always more complex due to the fact that when the file system is damaged you need often to reconstruct all data and data files manually. You need to know for example the bandwidth of the raid system (with a Raid 5 system parity information is very important) because every system can write the data on the Raid system in different ways. Some Raid systems uses first a Linux partition and then rest of the drive other operating systems can be used.

It’s also a longer data recovery process than having a data loss on a normal single hard drive. The data recovery company needs to follow a normal data recovery procedure in some cases even several data recovery produces (in case when 2 or hard drives are damaged). After the recoveries are done the data recovery company needs to reconstruct the complete Raid system and needs to check its data integrity. A data recovery process for a Raid 5 system is always a time consuming process where the data recovery expert puts a lot of effort and knowlegde into play in getting the data recovered succesfully.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

How to Develop a Backup Strategy to Prevent a Data Loss

Backup Problems

Preventing a data loss in practice turn outs to be quite difficult task because what happens when suddenly the PC does not start up any more? Or even worse: there is smoke coming out of your PC and you do not have a clue what has happened. This is when you realise that you have made a backup and you are one of those luckily persons who can restore his data.

Research has shown that backups are made ones or twice a year (on a consumer level). This really means that at the time your back up is a half year old the chances are that you have lost a considerable amount of data. Keeping your back up, up to date is one of the key elements in reassuring your data is safe guarded.

How to backup your files offline

It’s often in the way we use backup storage media and the significance of the meaning of the word back up that is the mean problem of selecting the right backup strategy. Using only one backup storage media limits the way you can backup your data and increases the change of losing that data while it’s stored on only 1 media. Having your data stored in 2 places gives you the change of restoring the second copy of the data when you lost you data. Now this comes with the challenge of keeping that second copy up to date. By developing the right backup strategy you will be able to that.

Setting up your offline Backup Strategy

The trick is to stick with one backup storage media that has a specific purpose within your back up strategy. In order to do this you can divide Backup storage Media in 2 main groups:

Active Data storage Media:
This backup media is used for all data you use on a regular basis which needs updated frequently

Passive Data storage Media: This backup media is a copy of all your active data

Examples of usable Backup storage media:

Active Data Storage: cd-rw /dvd-rw blue ray/USB Sticks/ Ext Hard drives.
Passive Data Storage:
Ext hard drives/Servers, Raid 1/5/ systems

Search for your suitable back up storage media that you can use as a passive or active back up method. Nowadays you can store your data on various storage devices, such as USB Memory sticks that can store data up to 16 GB. Also the modern MP3 players have built in space to store data files up to 80 GB. USB Memory sticks and MP3 players are easy to use and adaptable to all kind of PCs. The main advantage is that you can take it with you and download the files to your passive backup system directly. Also a CD/DVD RW can be an also a good method to back up your active data temporarily. When you use it as an active back up media it enables you to write and delete files or use it as a passive back up media only. After choosing your active / non active backup media you can implement your own way of back up your valuable data.

Always keep your important back up data in one place with one purpose. Use the right back up storage media and stick to the procedure on how to use that storage back media in the right way.

Implementing your offline backup strategy

After choosing you back up media that fits your requirements you have to set up your own procedure. In general active backups are made at least once a week or on a daily basis when need be and Passive backups are made in, for example, every 6 months.

Making a time frame of when you going to back up your files and administer them. Make a back up only when you need to or make a weekly back up from all your files. There are various decisions to make:

What do we need to back up?(Files/ Programs)
• What kind of backup software do I want use?
• What amount of Data do we need to back up ( 1- 200 GB)
• What timeframe do we choose the back the data up?
• What kind of method is effective to back up my data?(USB, external hard disk, server

When answering these questions you will find that you are developing your own back up strategy using the right media appropriate for you data storage needs.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Selecting the right Data Recovery Provider

No matter what happens, when it comes to select a Data Recovery Provider you sometimes do not know what to believe anymore. Everyone Data Recovery company has the latest technology, their own cleanroom and you always see man in masks taking care of your data. When you ask some real questions and you are looking for more than a only fancy website sometimes the truth is hard to find.
Keep always in mind that real Data Recovery companies have nothing to hide. They have clear processes in place, which tells you exactly what has happened to your storage media and will definitely not make abuse of the situation you are in. Depending on how valuable your data is you might send your media to the “cheaper” data recovery companies but if your data is really important you always are better off with the companies that have earned their position in the data recovery market.

To help you make a better choice I have come up a list of questions you might be able to ask any data recovery company: ·
  • How long is the company doing business?
  • What kind of diagnostic report are they providing?·
  • Do they use a third party for their physical recoveries? ·
  • What kind of guarantees are they willing to give you? ·
  • Do they have certified processes in place? ·
  • Can they do all platforms, different OS? ·
  • Are there any hidden costs like for example transports, spare parts?
With these questions you should be able to do a quick background check and see if the company is a consistent long term data recovery company that really cares about getting your data back. Investigate and take nothing for granted