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Back From the Dead

If you have been in the IT business long enough, you've already experienced it. You, or one of your users will turn on a normally reliable computer only to hear a nasty clicking, whirring or grinding sound; followed by either a sad Mac face or a request to please "insert system disk."

Not the start of a great day for sure, and of all the ways to lose your data, the worst possible scenario is when your hard disk physically fails. Sometimes you get a warning, but most of the time you don't. Spindle motors cease to spin, actuator arms stop moving, controller circuitry loses power, or worst of all; write heads floating on a cushion of air 2 millionths of an inch thick suddenly crash into disk platters spinning at up to 15,000 rpm.

Even with the best of modern drives, many boasting hundreds of thousands of hours of "mean time before failure," mechanical breakdowns can and do occur; and the simple truth is that there's really nothing you can do about it, other than make regular backups. Even the most highly rated manufacturer's warranties only offer drive replacement and make a point of claiming absolutely no responsibility for missing data. Fortunately, when disaster does strike you have one final chance at rescue. It comes in the form of a data recovery service that specializes in extracting data from damaged or otherwise inoperable storage devices.

Viruses, operating system failure, application problems and human error probably make up the greatest number of data disasters the average user will encounter. These types of problems can often be repaired by any competent IT support team using one of the many software solutions available for data recovery. But if your drive has been dropped, drowned, run-over, scorched in a fire; or is clicking, grinding or failing to spin up at all, it's time to shut everything down and bring in the experts.

For John Ford, manager of technical vitality for Celestica Inc., one of the world's largest manufacturers of OEM equipment, the end came unexpectedly for his company-owned laptop computer. "I had dropped off my laptop at our IT help center to have my data transferred to one that was just coming out of repair," Ford recalled. "I drove the 150 mile round-trip to the location and returned home to find that about 90 percent of my data did not make the trip with me."

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