How To Recover From A Hard Drive Crash

So, what if you came into the office one morning and heard some clicking sound coming from your server? That clicking sound could be a near heart-stopper for some or another minor irritation to others depending on how well they have planned for such a situation. It is the tell-tale sign that a hard drive is failing or has failed depending on how long it has been going on.

The unfortunate, but sad truth is that for most small business owners today, the odds are that they would fall into the near heart-stopper category. Why? Because almost 80 percent of us do not even take the most basic of effort to backup our files. I have consulted with many small business owners and when I ask “so, where is the backup server or drive?”, I always get a blank look, or something like, “we do not really have anything of importance”.

Really? Running a business and collecting customer data and personal records and you do not think you have anything of importance? Well, that is until they hear that clicking sound of the server”s hard drive going out. Then we get the usual annoying and very frustrating ” Do whatever you can to recover our files, no matter what it costs”. I say annoying and frustrating because the whole scenario could have been avoided or reduced to minimal cost if only the business owner had taken the time to put some simple processes in place to preserve their data.

I recently came face-to-face with the horrors of a hard drive crash on a production server and it was not pretty. If you’ve not been paying attentions to preachings about backups and business continuity plans, you had better start. How do you handle that situation? The ideal thing would be that you have some sort of backup, even if it is not current. At least, you will get something back.

So have you experienced a hard drive crash recently? Here’s how to recover from a hard drive crash.

If you do not have a backup, then roll up your sleeves and get ready for a long week if you are the Do It Yourself kind of person. The general advise is to let a professional help you. As soon as you hear a clicking sound coming from your server”s hard drive, power the computer off. At this stage, there is the need to determine if the drive can still be salvaged. If you can still read data on the drive, you may be able to copy critical files.

The mistake most people make, in my opinion, is that they try to clone the drive or copy everything from it. Depending on the level of damage, this puts additional stress on the drive and could make the situation worse. The main focus should be getting your critical files first. I personally prefer removing the drive from the computer, putting it in a USB enclosure and connecting to another computer to see if it is recognized by the operating system, preferably using a Linux-based LiveCD. If you are lucky, the drive will open with some warning.

Once you are able to access the drive, make a list of what you want to recover in terms of priority then try copying your critical files first and work your way down. The Operating System partition, in my opinion, is the least of your worries since you can always reinstall the OS. There are some tools out there that could help in the data recovery process, but the best bet is to always have backups.