Mopping up the Damage

After all those floods this winter many firms have lost everything but that need not include company data as Phil Bridge, Managing Director at Kroll Ontrack Data Recovery, explains how you can get your data back following storm damage.

Estimated bills for clearing up after this winter’s floods and storms in the UK could hit £1bn according to insurance experts at accountancy firm PwC. As rain continues to fall on waterlogged ground, still more households and businesses could find themselves at risk of losing valuable possessions to the elements, including data stored on laptops, tablets, smartphones and desktop PCs.

Valuable information is stored on all of those business and personal computers and laptops – critical financial information, irreplaceable and sentimental photos, videos, music, contact lists and passwords. In fact, experts predict that 99 percent of all information is now stored electronically and much of this information is not backed-up.

This is reinforced by the increase in the number of jobs Kroll Ontrack receives following natural disasters, including Hurricane Sandy, which left millions across the East Coast of America without power or access to mass transit, widespread floods in Europe during 2013 and our own storms this winter.

The challenge is that heavy storms causing rolling blackouts and power outages are significant causes of data loss, and damage to personal property during severe weather can be devastating. While most possessions can be replaced and are usually covered by insurance, the same cannot be said for digital data.

The extent of damage to digital files and information stored on hard drives remains unknown until power is restored. Fortunately, the majority of digital data can be recovered from water-damaged or power-affected drives with the help of data recovery software and or services.

Kroll Ontrack has pledged to provide victims with data files impacted by the storms a free data recovery evaluation and a discount on the final recovery bill if the client wants to proceed.

Sage Advice: 

Kroll Ontrack recommends that victims fearing loss of their vital information consider the following before assuming that the damage is permanent:

  • Never assume that data is unrecoverable, no matter what it has been through
  • Don’t turn on the device. Testing to see if a damaged device still works can exacerbate the damage, and even endanger your life
  • Do not shake, disassemble or attempt to clean any hard drive or server that has been damaged – improper handling can make recovery operations more difficult which can lead to valuable information being lost
  • Never attempt to dry water-damaged media by opening it or exposing it to heat – such as that from a hairdryer
  • Do not attempt to operate visibly damaged devices
  • Do not attempt to freeze-dry media
  • Do not use common software utility programs on broken or water-damaged devices.
  • Invest in some form of Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS), which uses batteries to keep computers running during power outages. UPS systems also help manage an orderly shutdown of the computer – unexpected shutdowns from power surge problems can cause data loss;
  • Check protection devices regularly: At least once a year inspect your power protection devices to make sure that they are functioning properly. Most good ones will have a signalling \ light to tell you when they are protecting your equipment properly
  • For mission critical situations, contact a data recovery professional before any attempts are made to reconfigure, reinstall or reformat
  • If you wish to send it to a specialist, the best option is to remove the hard drive as it is, wet and dirty, wrap it in a damp towel and put it in an anti-static plastic bag. The specialist can then proceed with handling the drive in a cleanroom with professional equipment
  • Don’t wait. Humidity in disks causes corrosion that will only get worse the longer you wait, so the chances of recovering data are greater the faster you react. Send your disk to the specialists as soon as possible, or get in contact to arrange free collection from your business or home.
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David Dungay

Editor - Comms Business Magazine