Here at EADR, a scenario that arises very frequently is when a client brings in their external hard drive or USB flash drive to us for recovery, stating that they have put all their data on to their “back-up” device.
External hard drives are excellent devices for storing / transporting data from A to B and although they are designed for this purpose, it should be remembered that they are still very fragile pieces of equipment that do not take kindly to being knocked, dropped or bumped around in the bottom of a bag. Very often, we see drives that have mechanical failures due to this type of treatment, or on a different level, have become corrupt and inaccessible due to not being ejected safely, or the wrong power cable being used.
However, by far the biggest mistake that people make with their “back-up” devices is that they often move all of their valuable data on to them to free up resources elsewhere. Well, why on earth would they not do that? You might say. Perhaps their laptop or desktop computer is running slowly or more commonly they are trying to free up some space so they can fit more recent ‘live’ data onto their working computer. The crucial point here is that if it is your ONLY copy of your data that you are moving, then it is NOT going to become a back-up by simply transferring it to an external device. If you have 20,000 photographs of your gap year in Asia on your laptop, or your complete business database is on your desktop computer then the wisest thing to do is to frequently make a copy or update the back-up held away from your working copy on your PC. That way, should disaster strike and you lose one copy, then at least you have a back-up (or indeed the originals) to go back to.
Remember, if it’s your only copy – it’s NOT a back-up no matter where it’s placed.
A data recovery specialist should be able to help you recover your lost items from most if not all of the above data loss scenarios if you are in the unfortunate position of not having a back-up, but it can be a costly lesson to learn.