- Keeping the power on. If your data is important and you have a hard drive or computer that is not working it’s best to keep the power off. If you have deleted files or accidently formatted a drive, keep it off until it can be evaluated. If you dropped a device, it may be critical to keep it off. Permanent data loss only takes seconds with some devices.
- Overwriting the data. If you have lost data and download a program, or save new data to the device it may overwrite the lost data, making it permanently unrecoverable. Deleted files can usually be recovered if they are not overwritten. It is best to disconnect and cease using the device.
- Opening the device. If you have a drive that has failed and you open it outside of a cleanroom environment, you may cause irreparable damage.
- Running Check Disk (CHKDSK) or other software. We have seen many computers that have unrecoverable data because a check disk ran and destroyed critical user data while saving unneeded system files. Sometimes this is done by a PC repair shop or IT technician because they are not aware of the risks.
- Giving the drive to a friend, IT department, or repair center that does not specialize in data recovery. Unfortunately, data can be lost forever because someone follows instructions found on the internet, without knowing the risks. Best practices in data recovery are rigorous and require specialized knowledge not commonly available, but they result in the lowest possible risk of data loss and the highest chance of success.
- Putting a device in the freezer. Don’t do this. It is much more likely to result in more damage than to help the situation and it is never necessary.
- Taking drives out of a server without labeling them in order. For RAID systems we frequently find that a rebuild was attempted but drives were put in the incorrect order causing the data to be overwritten.
What Not To Do When You May Have Lost Data
Many devices that we see in our offices are not recoverable due to simple mistakes that could have been avoided.