..Before Your Hard Drive Fails, by Chris Andrews
I think that it's safe to say that we all share some the same sad misgivings when we see the police officer in our rearview mirror and that dreaded red light comes on?or what about the sight of one of our kids falling off a bike and scraping a knee.
Here's a new one?the dreaded sound that your hard drive makes just before it gives up the ghost. I call this the click of death and if you've head this sound it needs no further description.
For those who've not let me just say that any loud, clicking, stuttering, revving, or other strange sounds coming from your computer should be a warning call.
Hard drives do amazing things. They spin at hundreds of revolutions per second, store thousands of bits of data every second, and are so accurate that the data is rarely written incorrectly. The problem is that your hard drive IS eventually going to fail; guaranteed! The question is when, not if. Heat, physical shocks and electrical surges are just a few of the culprits that speed a hard drives' demise.
Much of the work that our business does entails "data recovery," which is a nice way of saying trying to get back some of the data from a damaged hard drive. The suggestions that I'm about to make could save you hundreds or thousands of dollars not to mention the grief that you'll suffer if the data is truly lost.
Back up your data
I know this sounds trite but it's amazing how many businesses don't perform daily backups of their sensitive data (customer accounts, financial files, emails, etc.). Data backup can be as simple as copying your important files to a CD-ROM, DVD, or other location separate from your hard drive. The problem with this method is it requires diligence (daily backups) as well as the knowledge of where your important files are actually located.
Purchase a computer with a RAID array
This is a more expensive option but the RAID array (Redundant Array of Individual Drives) is simply two hard drives working in tandem in which one drive is your primary drive and the second is a backup that updates every second. With a RAID set up in the "mirror" mode, the likelihood that both drives will fail at the same time is incredibly remote (think of the two headlights on your car?). Many computers today have RAID as an option and I personally feel that it's money well spent!
Create a SAN (Storage Area Network)
This is a more expensive option but larger businesses which already have an internal network (Local Area Network or LAN) could possibly benefit from a SAN. Consult an IT professional for more details.
Partition your drive
Lastly, install software that uses your existing drive and creates a second "partition" for your data. Software such as "GoBack" can then create a backup copy to your existing drive. The problem with this option is that if your existing drive suffers a catastrophic failure, the second partition is gone as well as your original data.
There's nothing worse than losing all of the pictures ever taken of your newborn child or having to reconstruct your entire customer database from hundreds of pages of a printout you made last year. Think about investing a little money today so you won't have to spend thousands of dollars in the future.
Chris Andrews is owner of Lost Coast Computer Forensics, a criminal justice digital evidence and data recovery firm located in Fortuna. He is also a business member of the Redwood Technology Consortium.