The answer to this is absolutely yes, you should be looking into data recovery before you even need it. But, unlike some of the people you may have talked to, I don’t work for a data recovery provider, nor have I any endorsement motivation to convince you to give them business. I myself am just a technology writer, and I am here to explain to you today what the real threats are, why any measures you have put into place are far from a guarantee of your data’s integrity and finally, the real consequences of your data being even a day or less out of date.
Before I do that, though, I need to explain to you exactly how some of these various data storage mediums work, and why they are susceptible to the ravages of time itself even when you are being especially gentle with them. We will only be talking about technologies that are actually still widely used, but you might be surprised to find out just how many outdated concepts are still that widely used due to newer technologies being prohibitively expensive. Yet, capitalism can be stupid that way sometimes and get in the way of real businesses doing real work.
We will start with the oldest technology still heavily used, that being industrial data tapes for backups. Tape uses magnetic material, storing magnetic waves along the tape as it plays back, the peaks and valleys of this signal being equated to ones and zeros, ergo binary. This is only used for backup purposes, because large, consumer-impractical reels of tape can still hold a larger amount of data than CDs, most hard drives and even some of the heavier solid-state drives out there. However, due to its linear nature, it is only used as backups and not random access data storage, meaning these backup tapes are probably only made every so often due to the time and expense of creating and filing them.
These tapes are susceptible to various things such as electromagnetic pulses, solar flares, temperature variations and humidity. Being near a strong magnetic field can also wipe them, and simply sitting on used, no matter how protected and evenly-temperature did they may be, eventually, they will begin to lose their coherence and eventually the data will become unreadable.
Next on the list is the classic spinning magnetic hard drive. The same basic technology is at work here as with tapes, though the magnetic states aren’t highs and lows in a signal but rather cells that can either have a positive or negative magnetic charge to represent the ones and zeros. Floppy disks worked this same exact way albeit with a much lower data resolution. Hard drives have several aspects to them that make them rather fragile, chief among these being the fact that eventually, the electric motor and the microcontroller that drives it will fail. It is an inevitability, and extreme heat, magnetism, much of the same threats to tapes can also utterly ruin a hard drive.
Next we come to optical media such as CDs, DVDs and Blu-rays. These are not as widely used, but smaller businesses may still heavily used them for periodic backup dumps, as well as to physically store some very crucial information from time to time in a secure location. All of these work the same basic way, the only difference is the width of the laser used allows for greater amounts of data on the same surface area with newer versus order forms of this. A reflective foil has pits and valleys either stamped or cut into it by a laser, and these translate back as ones and zeros. Over time, this foil will begin to decay, a process commonly known as bit rot. There are many old optical discs from the 80s and 90s where this process can be visibly seen, with the foil turning dark or black and eventually crumbling away. These technologies are also very susceptible to scratching, something even fine dust can actually do, being warped from temperatures and sometimes even the plastic clouding after enough UV exposure.
Lastly, we come to various forms of solid-state memory, such as SD cards and SD drives. These are the most modern form of data storage as well as the best for the most part. Very tiny components can store vast quantities of data, and there is no analog surface such as a magnetic platter, magnetic tape or reflective surface to be damaged. They can even survive being submerged if they are treated properly when they are taken back out. The way these work is actually kind of complicated, but basically, a special type of transistor is used to store data similarly to how standard transistor store data in RAM chips. These special transistors, unlike those in RAM and CPUs, as an extra component that allows it to remain in a certain state when there is no voltage applied to it. However, after a while, these transistors stop working, being there is indeed a limit to how many reads and writes can be done to solid-state memory, though it gets better every year of course. These aren’t great for backups that are almost never accessed, as the floating little component that lets transistors hold their states can only do so for about 10 to 15 years before it zeros out, and it’s actually nearly impossible to recover data lost to this particular thing.
Of course, the real reasons why you should have data recovery UK services handy is actually because data recovery can help you recover quickly from disasters, burglaries and worst of all, a special brand of modern hacker.
A data recovery provider can quickly get you back up and running when something like ransomware is let loose on your system, where your data is encrypted by an intruding piece of software and the cipher to this encryption held hostage for vast amounts of crypto currency.
Every second that your data is out of sync, you’re unable to handle proper billing, proper customer service or do any real business operations. If your data is even a day out of sync, crucial bits of information for operating based on past events can cause all kinds of issues when it isn’t present. Every second you wait to get a data recovery UK service is one in which you are hemorrhaging money.
You should absolutely cultivate a relationship with a data recovery provider well before you need one, because it is better to have one and not need them then to need one and not have them, believe you me!