Recovering data (or Data Recovery) is the task of recovering data from the HDD (or Hard Disk Drive) or
any other type of digital media that has been jeopardized in a critical way due to a disaster, such as a flood,
explosion, or fire. There are many techniques that can be used to recover data when it has been seemingly
destroyed or damaged – techniques that are similar to recovering data from tapes and hard drives that are
in less brutalized condition.
Data value varies in the form it is stored in. Some are not valuable enough to worry about, but some are
very important. Numerous entities such as companies who experience a disaster then have to contend with
more or double the risk of data failure. Even if they are able to back-up their data on a regular basis, they
still would be facing an event considered non-risk-free – unless they try to backup their data in other
locations. It is hard to rebuild customer financial records, files and inventory records. In fact, there are
some companies who have actually gone out of business due to the consequences of disasters.
It is possible to recover data from fire-damaged drives even though plastic components may be melted, or
blackened by fire. There are 2 main components of a hard drive: first would be the electronic board; and
second, you have the head assembly. The head assembly contains the rotating platter that carries the data
with read/write function.
Located in the head assembly is a small pin-sized hole whose purpose is to help in compensating for
atmospheric changes. Even if the cause of damage is fire, water damage may also be caused by fire fighters
whose main purpose is to eliminate the first risk which is fire. Water can enter through this pin hole. The
time that the water remains inside is critical if we intend to save the valuable data affected. If the water
dries before we can act, there is less chance of being able to recover data due to dirt and foreign materials
Another risk is when melting occurs due to excessive heat – once the disk experiences melting of its
internal parts, there is no hope of ever recovering the data.
When creating a Disaster Emergency Procedure Recovery Plan, it is important to know first why you are
creating it. This is so you do not wind up preparing procedures which are not apt for the situation that
may hit you. It also helps you weed out overlapping or contradictory procedures.
For instance, in a data center, there are two ways your data storage systems can be destroyed: by fire
and by water. Ironically though, if fire does hit your data center, the most common way of putting out the
fire is through the internal water sprinkler system of the facility. So the water sprinklers do put out your
fire, but will also wreak havoc on your IT systems anyway. It is very easy for water to penetrate into the
internal parts of your computers, especially the CPUs of your desktops.
To address this problem may require the labors of Hercules, because many times fire breaks out because
of the computers themselves – perhaps because the CPU overheated from prolonged use or because of
some flaw in the power supply system. Though some experts say water sprinklers should be distanced
from sensitive IT systems, how do you put out the fire then if the cause of the fire is the PC?
One procedure you could set in place is that round-the-clock surveillance should be installed in your
data storage facility. This allows your personnel to isolate any fires that do break out so that the rest of
your IT systems stay safe. Maintaining people to secure your data storage facility round-the-clock may
be expensive but it is better in the long run than investing in a water sprinkler system that will go off
automatically if a fire is detected because your IT systems will not be damaged whole cloth.