We all have it happen. We walk into the office on a Monday morning. We grab our coffee and head over to our desk. We sort through the mail and then we noticed that our computer screen is black. It says something about unmountable boot volume. Great, just what you needed on a Monday. There are some basic things that you can do to help you troubleshoot that drive.
Today InPhase starts a demo of their prototype holographic backup device. This device is one of the most exciting developments in backup media that I have seen in a long time. The reasons are multifaceted. First, holographic storage is intrinsically different from other storage mediums out there. It can read and write through the medium. This takes advantage of 3D storage. We are no longer limited to writing onto just the surface of a storage medium. We can write thousands of holograms onto the same location, yet at different depths.
People have a hard time understanding what a hard drive partition is. They think that it’s some type of technical voodoo. But understanding hard drive partitions isn’t hard if you make real world analogies. This is a strategy that I use whenever I talk to a non-technical user. And I especially use it when I am talking to a non-technical user about abstract ideas. So, let’s learn a little about hard drive partitions.
Here is the scenario. You manage a small office of 100 employees. And business is booming. You are writing sales contracts like they are shopping lists. It’s just going really well. And then life happens. Suddenly everyone loses their connection to the server. “Don’t Panic,” you keep telling yourself. You calmly walk back to your makeshift server room. You notice that there are red lights on the front of the server. That doesn’t reassure you. You power down the server and restart. You still can’t connect to the server. Now you’re getting really anxious. You are losing $500,000 for every hour that this machine is down. Now you are kicking yourself for not backing up.
In 2003, Simson L Garfinkel and Abhi Shelat published a document entitled “Remembrance of Data Passed: A Study of Disk Sanitization Practices.” The study looked at hard drive sanitization practices, or lack thereof, and what the consequences could be. Disk Sanitization just means that private data on the drive has been removed. Can you imagine the private contents of your data showing up for someone else? Most people assume that this is not a common phenomenon, but they’re wrong. Here are a few examples that Garfinkel and Shelat relay:
Flash drives are ingenious little devices. Most people are catching on to the incredible ease of use of flash drives. Heck, I have one that boots up to my favorite linux security distribution. This allows me to run an entire operating system via USB. So, even if you had Windows on your computer, I could bypass that and boot to linux – if your computer had USB booting capability. But i digress. Flash memory is great until it bombs out on you. You may get messages saying that your drive isn’t recognized or it may do nothing. What are you to do?
One of the worst things you can do is get rid of your hard drive on the open market. What I mean is that you don’t want to sell your hard drive on ebay. I will post on some horror stories around that issue later. But I’m often asked if formatted disks can be recovered. The answer is an interesting one.
The best prevention medicine for data recovery is backing up your data – period. Most people don’t back up. I talk to countless people every week and I can tell you from experience that this is true. Backing up data can range from very easy to incredibly complex. It all depends on what you are backing up and what kind of backup scheme you want to implement. But most people need to be convinced of the need to backup in the first place.
I don’t think I have to say that data loss is everyone’s nightmare. At home, data loss could mean years worth of photos, videos, financials, and documents lost. In business, data loss means money out the window. Many times, however, you want to recover data, but you don’t want to pay the exorbitant fees that data recovery companies charge ($150-$250/hour). Let me introduce you to some free data recovery tools.
RAID systems are great, but sometimes you may end up needing RAID data recovery. RAID systems offer users with unparalleled accessibility, scalability, and redundancy. But sometimes even Raid systems go bad. This can be caused by implementation issues within the data storage solution. Another frequent cause for RAID failure is catastrophic damage due to a natural cause like fire, flooding, etc.