What is Data Recovery? Terminology and Tips from Professionals

Data recovery is the process of salvaging data from damaged, failed, corrupted or inaccessible primary storage media when it cannot be accessed normally. Often the data are being salvaged from storage media formats such as hard disk drive, storage tapes, CDs, DVDs, RAID, and other electronics. This can be due to physical damage to the storage device or logical damage to the file system that prevents it from being mounted by the host operating system.

HDA (Head Disk Assembly)

Clicking Hard Disk Drive

Raw Recovery

MAC / Apple Recovery

HDD CLONE: Why to order

How Can I Prevent Data Loss?

Are There Instances Where Lost Data Cannot Be Recovered?

Do You Offer Data Recovery For Laptop / Notebook And External Mobile Disks?

What Can I Do To Protect My Data And Minimize My Chances Of Loosing It?


What Is Computer Virus?

Can I Recover My Data Using Norton Or Other Disk Utilities?

HDA (Head Disk Assembly)

The mechanical components of a disk drive (minus the electronics), which include the actuators, access arms, read/write heads and platters.

A typical hard disk uses rotating platters to store data. Each platter has a smooth magnetic surface on which digital data is stored.

To read /write data from magnetic surface there is a mechanical gear that positions the read/write head assembly (HEADS) over the appropriate tracks (circle chains of sectors with data).

Heads are the most delicate and sensitive part of hard drive.
The hard disk's heads fly above the spinning disk platters with clearance of as little as few nanometers. Any tiny piece of dust, little scratch on the surface, or other factors may easily destroy them.

To recover data from drive with bad heads, we have to use a new head assembly from other hard drive (called DONOR drive). Sometimes, we use few donors to retrieve required data from drives with bad surface condition. And sometimes, we receive a heads-killer drive, it waists the donor drive with no recovery result. Luckily, it rarely happens.

Clicking Hard Disk Drive

It is normal for a spinning hard drive to produce low humming and quiet whistling sounds.

However, drive should not produce repetitive clicking, ticking, or banging noise. Very noticeable humming, squeaking, or any type of hard thump may put your data in danger.

Why clicks put a data in danger

Typically, the clicking sound produced by the heads assembly which is hitting their travel-limiting stops. Each click accompanies the vibration of heads on arm, strong enough to exceed that tiny safety gap between the flying heads and spinning disks. As a result, heads touch sensitive data surface and destroy it.

Never power on the clicking hard drive again. To prevent the extensive data damage, immediately shut down your computer or external data storage, take out the drive and dispatch it for the professional data recovery service.

Raw Recovery

All regular data on the computer represented as a tree built by files and folders.
For the most cases, recovered data has the same representation in data recovery report.

But what happens if the significant part of media is unreadable, let’s say, due to unrecoverable damage to magnetic layer on the disk platters?
Then there is possible unhappy situation, when there is no information about physical and logical location of the files available to data recovery specialist.

Luckily, there is still a chance to recover some or even many files.

Technically, almost all kinds of files have the same digital header signature. For example, all JPEG pictures and photos start with ‘FF D8 FF’.

That can be used in so called RAW DATA RECOVERY method.

This method is a last chance to rescue at least something. No file paths, no original names, just numbered files grouped by type of signature. There is no way to check the intergity of all files, so you need to open each file and sort it. Many files may be corrupted due to high degree of HDD fragmentation and physically damaged sectors on disk.

Normally, this method works satisfactorily for well known types of files, like MS documents, pictures, etc.
The small-size files have a better chance to be recovered.

Also, you can be asked to provide some file samples of the special, not widely used application, or some unique files you need to recover. We need and ask for those file samples to build the data recovery algorithm.

Mac data recoveryMAC / Apple Recovery

We recover data from all MAC / Apple computers (Desktop, Notebook/Laptop) running all Macintosh OS and deliver the recovered data the same way we do for PC users.
The options you may choose from are: HDD clone (exact original replica of your MAC OS, ready to use in your original computer), or backup on to spare NTFS-formatted hard drive or CD/DVD-burning (up to 40 GB).

All modern Apple Macintosh computers running Macintosh OS are capable read NTFS Volumes. This means that you can copy data files from an external NTFS-formatted drive to Apple Macintosh drive running Mac OS.

Users of old Apple Macintosh computers may need to use other methods to transfer files to old Apple machines, like network file transferring from PC (or new MAC) to old MAC computer.


Hard disk drive's clone or HDD-clone is an exact (sector-to-sector) copy of the original failed hard drive on to spare one.

The spare disk can be used for the cloning procedure only if it has the exact or bigger capacity. To be more specific, it must have the same or bigger number of LBA sectors (LBA - Logical Block Addressing).

HDD clone is an optional and extra-priced item to order. Normally, we offer this option only to those recovery outcomes, when we succeed to recover not only files and folders, but all or nearly all of the sectors from the original failed hard drive. We cannot and never guarantee the clone will be bootable. Firstly, it is quite possible, that just one modified byte in sector can ruin the whole OS; and secondly, even when all of sectors were successfully recovered, yet there is a chance you had a corrupted OS at the moment of the drive's failure.

Nevertheless, by ordering HDD-clone you are taking a shot to start booting the operating system once HDD-clone is connected to the original computer. It may save you the hours of tedious labor, such as: avoiding installation OS, software applications, and transferring recovered data from the destination drive to new drive in the machine.

THE ORIGINAL COMPUTER (the one where the failed hard drive operated from, before failure occurred) is a MUST for the hard drive clone.

If you fail booting HDD-clone on you computer, there are still chances for you to try recovering the original operating system, e.g. MS Windows Recovery Console (comes with Windows setup CD), etc. With all due respect, Data-R-Us Data Recovery Services do not provide any sorts of the technical support for system recovery or computer repair issues.

There is another major reason to have a failed drive’s clone. HDD-clone is the most complete representation of your original digital data from damaged disk. You may consider it as primary, raw source of your data. Having HDD-clone allows you to make an extra data research and analysis, such as additional data recovery attempts with various data recovery software, raw recovery, or forensic analysis.

How Can I Prevent Data Loss?

We recommend backup your files on different media.

The reality of hard drives is that they will crash at some time. It is not a question of If, but When.
Nothing can prevent data loss better than performing routine backups of all your data.

Users can save hours, days and weeks of downtime by minimizing their data loss through routine backups. A good anti-virus software package, updated regularly, will also offer some protection against data loss.

Are There Instances Where Lost Data Cannot Be Recovered?

Yes. There are instances where the damage to the hard drive is so severe that data recovery is not possible by all means. This usually occurs when the read/write heads actually "crash" and gouge the magnetic storage media to the point where the data is destroyed.

However, in a number of cases data recovery were possible at the first time the damage occurred, but became unrecoverable through the persistent use of commercial data recovery softwares. The point is that the like softwares are designed to perform data recovery from the working hard drives. If your drive has already experienced a mechanical or electrical failure, the use of recovery software may cause permanent loss of your data.

We do not charge you for our labor in the rare and unfortunate situation, where no data is recoverable.

Do You Offer Data Recovery For Laptop / Notebook And external mobile disks?

Yes. The development of high-capacity laptop hard disks has enabled us to establish advanced techniques in data recovery technology. As these drives are very small in comparison to desktop drives, the internal mechanics are miniature versions of their desktop counterparts, and so special tooling, equipment and handling procedures are required to facilitate the recovery of the data from these drives.

Typical problems that we have seen with laptop computers are due to mechanical or electronic failure, where either the drive does not spin at all, or if it does, then quiet but persistent 'ticking' or 'crunching' noises can be heard during powering up - this particular problem is mainly due to an internal head amplifier failure or, more seriously, a head crash or misalignment problem - the majority of which are recoverable.

Data recovery from laptop computers are priced the same as for desktop machines and despite the miniature mechanics, we have an exceptionally high recovery rate from these type of hard disks, and have performed data recovery from all manufacturers of notebooks and laptop hard disks, including IBM, Toshiba, HP, Sony, Fujitsu, Hitachi, Acer and many others. If your notebook hard disk has crashed, please contact us for our professional data recovery services.

What Can I Do To Protect My Data And Minimize My Chances Of Loosing It?

To avoid premature drive failure:

Avoid heat and vibration. Beware of static. Back up your data.

All drive components, both electronic and mechanical, are sensitive to heat and vibration. Keep your computer in a dry, controlled environment that is clean and dust-free. Set up your computer in an area with very little traffic to ensure that it does not get bumped. The Heat and/or vibration are two of the leading causes of hard drive failure.

Run Scandisk.

Scandisk examines your hard disk for logical inconsistencies and damaged surfaces. Run it every two or three weeks just to be on safe side. It is very important to save any changes to a floppy until you are sure that the changes you are about to make will not adversely affect your hard drive.

Run Defrag frequently.

Files most likely, will not be stored in adjacent clusters. Defrag rearranges the data on your hard disk so that each file is stored in a set of contiguous clusters. This is very important for data recovery, since success is more likely when the damaged file's clusters are adjacent to each other.

Anti-virus Software.

Use anti-virus software and update it at least four times a year.

Use an uninterrupted power supply (UPS).

In the event of a surge of electricity, black out, brown out or lightning strike, a UPS can protect your system from the electrical damage. A UPS is also a back up power source that keeps your computer running for a short period of time, giving you the opportunity to properly save your work and shut down the machine, avoiding a potential data loss.

Be cautious when using recovery utilities.

Use diagnostic and repair utilities with utmost caution. Verify that your utility software is compatible with your operating software. Never use file recovery software if you suspect an electrical or mechanical drive failure. Always make an undo disk when you allow a utility make changes to your hard drive.

Diligent maintenance such as anti-virus scanning, sensible backup procedures, off-site storage of mission critical data, together with knowledge of your limitations, can prevent you from becoming one of the many casualties of data loss.

If you suffer a data loss.

Contact a data recovery expert immediately. The most important thing is to not attempt any repairs yourself. Trust your data to the professional engineers who have the experience, expertise and right tools to recover you data without damaging your system.


In most cases, we fix the defective HDD (or other media) only to the degree when we can recover the data off of it. It is not advisable to put the recovered data back on to original drive. We can copy the recovered data to CD /DVD or spare/destination HDD, depending on your choice and the amount of recovered data.

We do not provide any warranty on repaired drives. Moreover, we do not recommend using repaired / refurbished hard drive as data storage. In many cases "repaired drives" can be used for emergency data reading, using special equipment. That's why customers rather leave bad or dying drives, and recovered data are delivered on new media (on DVD-R or other hard drive).

What Is Computer Virus?

A computer program that is designed to replicate itself by copying itself into the other programs stored in a computer. It may be benign or have a negative effect, such as causing a program to operate incorrectly or corrupting a computer's memory.

In order to be a virus, this program must have the ability to run without the user wanting it to and/or create effects that the programmer wants but that the user did not want or request. It must also have the ability to "infect" or modify other files or disk structures, and replicate itself so it can spread to other files or systems.

A virus does not necessarily have to trash your hard drive or exhibit other malicious behavior, in order to be a virus. While many viruses do damage files and disk structures, many are just nuisances or exhibit "prank" behavior such as playing music on the PC speaker or putting funny phrases on the screen when the system is booted.

There are three major types of viruses, each very different from the other. Of course, there are many subcategories within each group as well.

Boot Sector Infectors: Also sometimes called boot record infectors, system viruses, or boot viruses, these programs attack the vulnerable boot program that is stored on every bootable floppy disk or hard disk. This code is executed by the system when PC is started up, making it a juicy target for virus writers: by installing themselves here they guarantee that their code will be executed whenever the system is started up, giving them full control over the system to do what they wish. They are spread most commonly through infected bootable floppy disks.

File Infectors: These viruses directly attack and modify program files, which are usually .EXE or .COM files. When the program is run, the virus executes and does whatever it wants to do. Usually it loads itself into memory and waits for a trigger to find and infect other program files. These viruses are commonly spread through infected floppy disks, over networks, and over the Internet.

Macro Viruses: The newest type of virus, these clever programs make use of the built-in programming languages in popular programs such as Microsoft Word and Microsoft Excel. These programs allow users to create programs that automate tasks, called macros. As the macro languages have become more powerful, virus writers have created malevolent macros that, when opened unwittingly, duplicate themselves into other documents and spread just like a conventional virus would. These programs can cause just as much damage as regular viruses, despite the fact that they are very different: regular viruses are low-level machine language programs, while macro viruses are actually high-level interpreted BASIC programs! The most common type of macro virus right now infects Microsoft Word documents.

Can I Recover My Data Using Norton Or Other Disk Utilities?

While most disk utilities provide the excellent preventative maintenance by fixing minor problems, they can render data unrecoverable in the event of the extreme corruption.

If your drive makes any unusual noises, DO NOT attempt to use any type of utility softwares.

Unusual sounds are an indicative of damaged head mechanism or head crash. Shut down the computer immediately to avoid further damage to the drive and its data and seek for help at a professional ONLY data recovery service.

Also, we need to warn you about one important point.

We know cases from our practice, when drives died without any 'dead sounds' symptoms and prior warnings.
The damaged disk develops extra scratches on the surfaces of spinning platters very quickly. If your data files are very important to you, do not risk trying to work out the problem with any utilities or recovery softwares.

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