How to Recover Your Data lost in Hurricane Sandy:
While assessing the damage to your personal property and business assets in the aftermath of hurricane Sandy, one of the main areas that get affected in the case of businesses and professional practices is the loss of valuable data or the inability to access your data due to damage to your computers that hold your business data (such as your client database, business documentation, electronic medical records in the case of doctors), as well personal data and pictures.
How to recover your data from your computer and other storage devices:
1. Fixing a Damaged Computer:
Many times a non-functioning or damaged computer due to a change of voltage or power surge doesn’t mean the whole computer is damaged, it could be just one or more of its components that once you replace, the computer will be operational and you will be able to access your data.
One of the most common causes of damage to a computer’s components due to the conditions of natural disasters is the power supply which is connected to the power cable and transfers power to the whole computer. By replacing the power supply with a new one that is compatible with your computer, your computer will be operational (but be sure to replace it with one that is compatible to your hardware).
2. Move hard drives to working computers or storage devices:
You might be unable to access your data because your computer or storage device got damaged, but that doesn’t mean that your hard drive(s) is damaged as well and that your data has been lost. To recover this data, do one or more of the following:
a) In the case of a damaged computer:
Remove the internal hard drive (make sure you are grounded while doing this). Then either install the drive inside an undamaged computer, or you can install the hard drive in a hard drive enclosure device which allows you to connect it to any other computer through a USB port.
b) In case of a damaged storage device (e.g. an external hard drive):
Remove the external hard drive from the storage housing and either install it in a new hard drive housing or install it on a new computer or hard drive enclosure. You will need to use a software to convert the files written on the drive from Linux system to a Windows based system (most external hard drives use Linux Operating System to save data on the drive).
3. How to fix a damaged hard drive(s):
A hard drive consists of two major components: electronic and mechanical. Electronic components are more vulnerable to getting damaged due to a change of voltage or power surge. Replacing the circuit board on the hard drive with a new one of an identical drive may fix your hard drive.
4. Recovering Emails:
For webmail (Yahoo, Gmail, Hotmail, or others …):
1. If you are using a browser to access your email, you don’t need to do anything because your emails are saved on the web server for any of the email providers.
2. If you are using an email client (MS Outlook, Eudora, or others …) and you have set up the provider server to save a copy of the email on the server, all you have to do is to reconfigure the email client on the new computer and all your emails will get downloaded again on your computer.
For corporate email (your domain emails):
Client email software like MS Outlook saves your email as one big file (PST file); if you didn’t lose your PST file, import it into the new computer and then download the rest of the emails from the server.
If after doing all of this, you find that your data is damaged, you are left with one very expensive option: which is to use a data recovery company – which is not guaranteed to restore all or part of your data.
5. Data loss prevention:
To prevent risking loss of data in the future, a rule of thumb is to always back up your personal business data in an off-site location (another physical location, whether at your home or office.). When choosing an off-site data provider, be sure you know exactly where your data is stored and that it is stored securely at a known physical location, not in a “public cloud” which could be anywhere worldwide. Also make sure that your data will be saved on dedicated hardware so all processor, memory power and hardware resources will be fully dedicated to your data only, to avoid the possibility of losing your data because of the increasing load on the hardware that your data is saved on. Make sure to select a provider that offers unlimited storage at a flat monthly rate, and who does not charge based on data size or transfer amount. In case of a natural disaster, be sure that data recovery will be quick and easy.