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  • Posted on: 2/05/2014

    Hard Disk Failure

     

    Backblaze, an unlimited online backup company, recently published the results of an extensive, four-year study of hard disk drive lifespans. In additional to revealing some useful and interesting statistics on hard drive lifespans, the study also uncovered three common reasons for hard disk drive failure.

    Since 24 Hour Data specializes in recovering lost data after hard disk failure, let’s look at some of the most common reasons people call us.

    Hard disk failure reason #1: Manufacturer’s defects – Some hard drives just weren’t built to last. According to the Backblaze study, 5.1% of all drives die within 18 months of use. These failures are usually covered by warranty and are typically due to manufacturer’s defects. A small percentage, 2.5%, of all drives die before their first birthday.

    Hard disk failure reason #2: Random failure – Sometimes, a drive fails for no apparent reason after 18 months. Fortunately, this doesn’t happen often, occurring only 1.8% of the time in the Backblaze study. This number doesn’t account for hard disk failure from outside factors, such as file corruption, viruses, shock damage, heat damage or natural disasters.

    Hard disk failure reason #3: End-of-life – As the mechanical parts in a hard disk drive wear down due to normal use, mechanical failure becomes nearly inevitable. This occurs when the drive is anywhere from three to six years old, although some fortunate users may get even more time out of their hard disk drives.

    If your drive is nearing its end of life, daily back-ups are important. If your older drive begins making clicking or whirring sounds, back up your files and power down your computer. It may not be too late to save your data and replace your drive. Be aware that your drive may fail during the back-up process, and you’ll need emergency data recovery to extract your lost data before further damage occurs.

    Understanding  the life spans of hard disk drives can help you be more prepared for hard disk failure and potentially avoid a data recovery emergency. 

  • Posted on: 1/30/2014

    Backup Recovery

     

    By now, most computer users know that it’s important to back up your data frequently. But knowing what you should do and executing the action plan to get it done are, unfortunately, two different things. Where should you start when it comes to backing up your data? Fortunately, as with most things related to technology today, you have options. 

    24 Hour Data explores popular options for data backup. We hope you’ll pick one or more of these methods to save yourself from a data recovery emergency. But remember that we’re always here to help. Whether your back-ups have failed, or it’s been weeks or just hours since your last back-up, we can help you recover mission critical data and valuable family files quickly and affordably.

    Data Back Up Method 1: External Hard Disk Drive
    With affordable hard disk drives available in sizes from 1TB to 8TB and up at affordable prices, and easy connectivity through USB2 or Firewire, there’s no reason not to back up your data on an external hard drive from a data storage manufacturer like Seagate or Western Digital.

    Benefits: Easy to use, affordable, sturdy, large (to hold all your data in one location), can be encrypted for data security.
    Drawbacks: For home users, external drives are likely to be stored in the same location as the computer or server, which means that if a fire, flood or natural disaster affects your machine, your backups may be lost, too. Hard disk drives are also susceptible to shock damage if dropped. For business users considering long term data storage, hard disk drives may deteriorate without regular use.

    Data Back Up Method 2: USB Flash Drives
    USB flash drives are ubiquitous in the world of technology. They can serve as adequate back-ups for college students or families storing limited numbers of documents and photos.
    Benefits: Price, ease-of-use, convenience, portability

    Drawbacks: Their small size makes them easy to lose. They are not encrypted so data can be at risk of theft. Relatively small storage capacity makes them suitable for home users but not businesses.

    Data Back Up Method 3: CD-ROMs or DVD-ROMs
    Many people still use CDs or DVDs to back up their data. These disks would be best used for monthly or annual photo backups, since they are easy to store and convenient to view files on any computer.
    Benefits: Portable, so you can store backups remotely, inexpensive, convenient
    Drawbacks: Data is not encrypted, so it’s not secure. CDs and DVDs are prone to scratching, which can corrupt files and render your back-ups unreadable. It could take many DVDs to back up an entire hard disk drive.

    Data Back Up Method 4: Tape Storage
    Many enterprise level businesses rely on tape for mission critical data storage, particularly when it comes to monthly or annual backups. Tapes can be stored conveniently off-site for access in the event a national disaster damages mission critical servers.

    Benefits: Tape storage permits storing large amount of data affordably. Tapes can last as long as 30 years or more and are not susceptible to shock damage. Easy off-site storage. 

    Drawbacks: High upfront costs. It may be slower to access recovery files off tape than off hard disk drives.

    Data Back Up Method 5: Cloud Storage
    More and more business and personal computer users are turning to cloud-based storage for their back-up needs. Cloud-based backups come in a number of forms, from storing all your data on Google Drive at the end of the night, uploading to Dropbox, or using a photo service such as FlickR for backup. At a higher level, business and personal users may consider using a dedicated cloud backup service to protect their mission critical files. Either of these solutions offers many advantages.
    Benefits: Access to your mission critical files from anywhere you have Internet access. Remote storage protects your files in the event of a natural disaster. Free or extremely inexpensive storage.
    Drawbacks: Data stored online may or may not be encrypted and secure. Operating System files may not be saved if you opt for a service like Google Drive or FlickR. Cloud-based backup services have monthly fees.

    Choosing a Back Up Process
    As you can see, users have a lot of choices when it comes to data backups, and the right data backups will vary depending on the frequency of backups required, amount of data to be backed up, and how important that data is, as well as the importance of keeping the data secure.

    From tape-based data backup systems to easy cloud-based systems or even USB flash drives, businesses and individuals will opt for different data backup solutions. Since data backups are such an important part of avoiding a data recovery emergency, we will explore this topic in more depth in future posts.

    For now, we’d like to remind you that it doesn’t matter so much which data backup method you choose, but that you choose one and then make regular backups at whatever frequency you determine is best. Even if your backup process involves plugging in a USB drive and saving your latest photos or the day’s documents, that may be enough for a home user.

    Businesses should make data back-ups and a data recovery action plan part of their business continuity plan. Regular backups won’t prevent every data recovery emergency, but they will help. For the rest, there’s 24 Hour Data

  • Posted on: 1/28/2014

    Database Recovery

     

    At 24 Hour Data, we know that small businesses and large organizations, alike, use databases for nearly every aspect of operations, from customer relationship management to sales and marketing and more. So when your database fails, you risk losing mission critical data that can cost your company important business… or even cost your entire business.

    If you are facing missing or corrupt data in your database or you can’t access your database at all, there are typically three common causes. Let’s look at each one and then determine the best steps to take to recover your lost data.

    Database Hardware Failure
    A database is just a combination of software and data. Frequently, when a database fails to boot, it’s due to hardware failure. The RAID array, server or hard drive has failed, resulting in the inability to access the database. If your database is stored on a RAID array and only one drive in the array has failed, it may be possible for IT professionals to perform a hot swap and replace the failed drive in a RAID 1 configuration or higher.  But keep in mind that if your data is not backed up and corruption occurs during the rebuild, then your data may be unrecoverable, even for data recovery professionals such as 24 Hour Data.

    If your database is stored on a virtual server, you may be able to restore the server to the time of the last snapshot, but be sure not to restore to the device that you are attempting to recover data from.  If only a small amount of time has passed and your database is not updated frequently, you may be able to recover your lost data.

    In many cases, however, hard drive or RAID failure requires a professional data recovery service to restore lost data without the risk of losing that data forever. If you’re in doubt, call data recovery pros to provide a free price quote with no obligation.

    File Corruption
    Databases may fail at the file level, which means one or more files in the database have become damaged, causing corruption. Corrupted files represent logical damage to the database and hard drive. However, do-it-yourself data recovery may overwrite the data and result in permanent data loss. If you don’t have experience in dealing with data recovery, it’s best to call an expert. Prices for logical data recovery may be lower than you expect, and you could get your data back in less than 24 hours.

    File System Damage
    Sometimes, operating system files will become damaged or corrupted if a server or computer is powered down incorrectly, experiences a power surge, or something happens to interrupt the process while data is being written to the files.

    Since databases are complex systems that are updated frequently, if a damaged OS file corrupts a database directory, it can be difficult to delete and reinstall the OS without permanently losing data from the database.

    Call the Experts for Database Recovery
    If you’re not an expert in data recovery, it’s best to call experts for help.
    24 Hour Data has years of experience recovering databases running on a variety of systems, including Microsoft Exchange, SQL, MySQL, Oracle, SharePoint, Filemaker and more.  For more information regarding data base recovery, visit the Database Recovery page on our website.

     

  • Posted on: 1/21/2014

    Cloud Backup

     

    With so many choices available for data backups today, there’s no excuse not to backup mission critical files. Or is there? Maybe you’re just overwhelmed with the backup choices and don’t knowto start.

    First, remember – any backup is better than no backup. Two backups are better than one. And three, with one stored in a remote location, is optimal for a business with mission critical data.

    Today’s storage options include tape-based backup systems, NAS devices, SAN devices, and RDX cartridges, which combine the benefits of RAID storage and hard disk storage with the mobility of tape-based storage. And, of course, more and more businesses are turning to cloud-based data storage. Is this really the best choice?

    Benefits of Cloud-based Storage
    Thousands of tech bloggers have explored the benefits of cloud-based storage for data backups.

    - Inexpensive (or even free)

    - Remote access so even if you can’t reach your office, (or your office has been destroyed or flooded) you can retrieve mission critical files and resume business to a degree

    - Secure, with SSL-encyrption protecting your files

    Disadvantages of Cloud-based Data Backups
    As prevalent as it has become, cloud-based data storage does have a few drawbacks.

    - If your internet goes down, which it may during a natural disaster, you won’t be able to access your back-up files. However, with so many different means to connect to the Internet today, this is less of a concern.

    - Bandwidth – Similarly, uploading terrabytes of data to a cloud storage provider can be slow and costly and can max out data transfer resources.

    - Putting your trust in an outside service provider – Entrusting an outside firm with your mission critical files, and counting on the fact that you’ll be able to access those files when you need them, requires a large leap of faith for business owners. That’s why it’s important to choose your cloud data storage provider carefully.

    Opting for cloud storage as one of your backup methods is a cost-effective, safe, smart choice. And it’s even smarter to count on 24 Hour Data when your back-up methods fail, as they sometimes will. 

  • Posted on: 1/08/2014

    Backup Recovery

     

    Frequent, effective backups are an important part of a business continuity plan and necessary to avoid a data recovery emergency in your business. But should you opt for tape back-ups, hardback-ups, or even newer technology? 


    Let’s look at some of the pros and cons of each for a small-to-mid-size Dallas business.

    Pros of Tape Storage
    Even as hard disk storage gets cheaper and larger, tape storage is not dead. Let’s look at some of the benefits.

    Virus Protection
    A reduced risk of virus corruption is one benefit. Viruses that may get onto a server will transfer to the hard disk drive, and then be spread through the entire system. A virus that accidentally gets backed up to disk will stay on that disk and corrupt only that file. 

    Ease of Transport
    Tapes are small, durable and extremely easy to ship or drive to an off-site location for back-up data protection against local disasters, including fires, floods, hurricanes, tornadoes and the like. Moving a RAID server used for back-up is more difficult, with a greater risk of shock damage. Data transfer may occur over WAN, but this is costly and time-consuming to set up.

    Lower Cost
    From moving to maintenance to storage of tape based backup systems, tape is cheaper. However, this advantage can also be a disadvantage, because tape-based storage can be lost or stolen in transit, leading to great security risks for businesses backing up customer information, trade secrets and other mission critical data. 

    Pros of Hard Disk Based Storage

    Security
    Let’s look at one of the benefits of hard disk based storage as compared to tape. Today’s encrypted hard drives permit an added level of security for hard disk based storage in RAID configurations.

    Speed
    One of the biggest breakthroughs with hard disk based backup is the speed of both backup times and recovery times if data needs to be accessed from the back-ups. With better compression of files and data de-duplication at the destination, less resources are used for the recovery process.

    Reliability
    Because of the number of moving parts in a tape-based back-up system, as well as the possibility for read/write errors on the tape itself, tape back-up may be affordable but it may not provide the peace-of-mind you need for your organization.

    Should Businesses Ever Back Up Data to Tape?
    After reading this, you may wonder if tape is ever a wise choice. Because of its portability and affordability, tape-based backup still excels for long-term backups stored off site.


    Do your hourly or daily backups locally on a RAID server back-up system, and then on a monthly or quarterly basis, back up your files to tape, stored off-site. In a worst-case data recovery emergency, you’ll have something.

    Of course, since back-ups are not 100 reliable, and there is often a significant time gap between the last back-up and server failure, 24 Hour Data should be part of every Dallas company’s business continuity plan. 

  • Posted on: 12/19/2013

    WD Recovery

     

    Just in time for holiday shopping, data storage leader Western Digital™ (WD) has announced a hybrid replacement hard drive for aging laptops.

    Users suffering from old, slow PCs can upgrade to a new WD Black2 drive that combines 1TB of conventional hard disk data storage with a 120GB SSD for the operating system and programs, all on a single 9.5 mm drive. Not only will users enjoy more storage space than many legacy laptops offer, but the SSD for important operating system files may speed operation of older laptops. The 6Gbps SATA3 connection is compatible with legacy SATA modes, making this an effective upgrade even for older laptops.

    The Western Digital™ WDBlack2 drive includes a full transfer kit to make the upgrade easy, and provides users with a choice of a fresh OS install or complete cloning of all your files. The hard disk drive includes a link cable and Paragon cloning software.

    In addition, the drive comes with a five-year warranty, because the dual-drive hybrid design should take the strain off drives, prolonging their life and the number of read/write cycles until failure.

    Back Up Before You Upgrade
    It’s exciting to get a new drive, whether it’s a holiday gift or a present to yourself. Here at 24 Hour Data, we love technology as much as you do, so we understand why you’d be eager to swap out your hard disk drive with the new WDBlack2.

    But take the time necessary to back up your files before the transition. Western Digital did their best to make the upgrade process easy and fail-proof, but anything can happen when it comes to technology.

    Back up your files to CD, DVD-rom, an inexpensive flash drive, another external hard disk drive or the cloud before you swap your old drive for the new Western Digital™ WDBlack2.

    But remember, anyone can make a mistake. If your back-ups fail and you lose your data during the transition, 24 Hour Data is here to help. If you don’t heed our warning and fail to back up your data before your upgrade your drive, we won’t judge. Give us a call and we’ll help you restore your valuable family photos, videos, music and other media. That’s why 24 Hour Data is here, 24 hours a day, 365 days out of the year. 

  • Posted on: 12/17/2013

    Encrypted Recovery

     

     

    We recently talked about the benefits of Full Disk Encryption in an organization that is concerned about data security (and who isn’t concerned about data security today?) But there are limits to the level of security FDE can provide. Most of these limits are not inherent in the software, however, but in the level of care users in the organization take to protect the data. 


    As successful as FDE is to prevent outside theft of important data, there are certain things FDE can’t accomplish. Let’s take a look at some of the limitations of full disk encryption.

    FDE can slow down processes. – FDE is hardware-based encryption, which means the drive is encrypted at the hardware level, and the encryption must be included by the manufacturer at the time of production, although users can add FDE technology through software applications after the fact. FDE encrypts not only mission critical data, but the drive’s operating system. This can slow down processes.

    FDE can create a false sense of security – While full disk encryption encrypts data on the drive, it cannot protect your server or workstation PCs from threats of viruses and malware. Users still need to be conscious of accessing the internet only via secure connections and making sure sites they visit have SSL encryption if they are sharing important financial data. There are a number of other common sense measures that must be taken to protect data, even on an encrypted hard drive.

    Full Disk Encryption must be used on all drives in your organization – Using FDE is one way to protect your organization’s most critical data and trade secrets. But you must use the same level of encryption on any and all copies of that data, including your back-ups. You wouldn’t believe the number of users who have encrypted drives for their servers or workstations but then back-up data to unencrypted drives.

    This philosophy extends to encrypted drive data recovery, too. If your encrypted drive needs data recovery service, you want a firm that will protect your data with the same level of care you do, storing it in a secure facility and returning your recovered data on an encrypted drive. 

    Your data recovery service, additionally, should respect your right to confidentiality in a data recovery emergency. You should trust your data recovery specialists as much as you trust your own IT staff with mission critical data. Only then will you know you are doing everything you can to protect your organization’s data. 

     

  • Posted on: 12/12/2013

    Data Security

     

    Many of our clients don’t realize the connection, but data recovery, data protection and security are inextricably linked within an organization. If your computer is not secure, particularly when you connect to the Internet, you could become a victim of viruses and malware that can damage files and render mission critical data inaccessible.

    Additionally, organizations that exhibit lax IT security also find they are lacking in data protection that could prevent a data recovery emergency. Data protection, just like data security, is never complete. An organization never reaches an endpoint where they can say, “We are 100 percent secure and protected and no longer have to worry about threats.”

    IT security specialist Debbie Mahler says it very well in this blog post published on tech blog Tripwire, “[Security] is a continuous, ongoing process of always staying one step ahead of the threats.”

    She goes on to say that your IT system is only as secure as the weakest link. This is a common statement in IT, in general, but it’s particularly eye-opening when we look at it in terms of security. She points out that your staff is typically the weakest link in your IT systems security. If the people in your organization don’t take data protection and security seriously, and if systems and protocols aren’t in place to enforce security measures, you are setting yourself up for loss and a data recovery emergency. 

    Common Sense Security
    First, at the most basic level, common sense measures must be taken to protect data theft and vulnerability within an organization, which includes users:

    -  locking their workstations with a password before they leave their desks

    • -not leaving mission critical data exposed before the password-protected screensaver kicks in
    • -positioning their monitor so it can’t be viewed over their shoulder from people outside or within the office (the monitor should be facing the wall, and no one but the user should be on that side of the desk)
    • -not leaving laptops unattended where someone can install a keystroke logger to access passwords
    • -making sure no one can discern their password when they enter it in a public place
    • -creating passwords are difficult to hack, consisting of a combination of numbers, letters and special characters

    These could be considered six steps toward better security at the end-user level. The Tripwire article goes on to bring up another very important point. “All it takes is one contaminated USB flash drive inserted by a vendor to wreak havoc or provide a back door into sensitive data customer data.”

    Security at Every Level, Even In A Data Recovery Emergency
    Most large companies today are savvy about the big stuff when it comes to data security and data protection, using encrypted hard drives and RAID arrays with built-in redundancy, as well as virtual servers that provide snapshots for easy back up.


    But many forget the everyday things they can do to enhance IT security: making sure your employees are educated on the importance of security and best practices, and choosing vendors you can trust if those companies will have any contact with your network or server.

    This extends to finding a data recovery service that can help you in an emergency and treat your data with the same care as you do, providing the same level of security that you offer on your own servers. If you send 24 Hour Data an encrypted drive, your recovered data remains secure after we recover it. That’s just one more part of the 24 Hour Data difference

  • Posted on: 12/10/2013

    RAID 6 Recovery

     

    If you’re considering new enterprise level RAID storage, you may have heard about some of the drawbacks of RAID 5. RAID 5 arrays stripe data and provide parity, and can tolerate the failure of one RAID drive. The problem? A RAID drive failure is rarely an isolated event. When one drive in a RAID array fails, it puts stress on the other drives. This leads to cascading failure and, most often, the need for emergency RAID recovery from a professional data recovery service.

    RAID 6 is very similar to RAID 5, but has become a preferred configuration for enterprise level RAID storage.

    A RAID 6 array can tolerate the failure of two drives, simultaneously, before facing data loss. RAID 6 requires at least four hard disk drives, and supports a maximum of 16 drives. RAID 6 stripes blocks of data with parity across all drives. A second set of parity information for each block of data provides 100% data protection.

    Adding two additional drives to a RAID 6 array, creating a 6-drive RAID 6 array, can prolong the life of a RAID array, because the two drives can be used to perform a hot swap in the event of drive failure. Although there may be a drop in performance with a RAID 6 array, due to the second set of parity, the added data protection makes it a good choice for storing mission critical data.

    RAID 6 may cause some loss of performance because of the second set of parity, but in cases where security of data is more important than performance, RAID 6 is an affordable choice. Make sure you select a RAID controller that supports RAID level 6 configuration.

    RAID 6 Data Recovery
    Even with the capability for a hot swap of two disks in a RAID array, and parity on two levels, RAID 6 arrays can still suffer hard disk failure resulting in cascading RAID failure and the loss of mission critical data. It’s important to perform regular back-ups, even of a RAID 6 array, and to know there’s a data recovery service you can turn to when you need your RAID server recovered.

    24 Hour Data specializes in all level of RAID data recovery, including RAID 0, RAID 1, RAID 5, RAID 6, RAID 10, and RAID 50. Contact us for a free price quote within 24 hours and data recovery in as little as 48 hours in many cases. 

  • Posted on: 12/05/2013

     

    Encryption Recovery

     

    24 Hour Data specializes in encrypted hard disk recovery, which includes drives using full disk encryption (FDE) technology. Let’s take a look at what full disk encryption is and why it is harder than other encrypted drive recovery, requiring more time in the lab and tops-in-their-field, experienced data recovery engineers.

    What is Full Disk Encryption?
    FDE is drive encryption that takes place at the hardware level. You can buy disk encrypting software and add it to hard drives to encrypt your data. But with FDE, even if your hard drive is removed from the computer and put into a different machine, the data will be inaccessible.
    FDE is common on laptop and notebook computers, which may be at risk of theft. If your drive does not use FDE, even if the thief doesn’t have your laptop password, he can remove the drive and read it.  With FDE, this is impossible.

    FDE is also common on external hard drives for the same reason; these storage devices may be vulnerable to loss or theft.

    How Does FDE Work?
    FDE encrypts data as it is written onto a hard drive. The authentication key is required to decrypt the data and read it from the drive. This occurs when the computer is unlocked via the password. All data, including the operating system, is encrypted, which may slow down access times. However, it is the most secure form of data encryption available today.

    Drawbacks of FDE
    In addition to slowing down the computer due to the encryption and decryption process, full drive encryption also makes data recovery more difficult. Encrypted drives using FDE are vulnerable to the same data loss threats, including logical and physical hard drive failure, as any other hard disk drive. But data recovery techniques are more complex.

    Encrypted Drive Data Recovery
    Often, when a drive requires physical recovery, data recovery engineers remove the drive and replace worn parts with parts in another drive of the same make and model, or place the platters storing the data in another, working drive. This process takes place in a certified clean room environment and adds time and costs to the data recovery process. 

    Recovering an encrypted hard drive that uses FDE adds another step to the data recovery process; the data must be decrypted. This requires specialized knowledge and technology.

    Not every data recovery service has the expertise or experience in successfully recovering encrypted hard disk drives. 24 Hour Data has been working with FDE and other encrypted drives for as long as the technology has been available. We will recover lost data from your encrypted drive, or there’s no charge for our service. 



     

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