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Data Recovery: why the first 60 minutes are the most important

The golden hour is a medical term for the process of making the right decisions during the first hour of a major trauma, which will decide if the patient survives. Highly qualified professionals must be available to correctly diagnose the problem, prescribe the correct treatment and perform surgery as quickly as possible to minimise risk.

As in a medical emergency, there’s also a critical time period following a data disaster when prompt intervention by an expert will increase the likelihood of a successful recovery. However, during a moment of panic people tend to increase risks by trying to solve the problem themselves or handing over the data recovery task to a poorly qualified data recovery company.

Years of professional experience reveal that these approaches often lead to permanent loss. On average, the success rate of recovering data from failed HDDs is many times higher if the media comes to the engineers without having been worked on following a data loss. This is partly associated with inadvertent damage caused to the media in the process of trying to recover the data by a less experienced party.

Data loss incidents continue to grow in size and complexity as organisations move into virtual environments. According to a survey conducted by Kroll Ontrack, sixty-five per cent of organisations admitted to experiencing frequent data loss from a virtual environment, mainly caused by human error or inadequate training.

That figure represented a 140 per cent increase in virtual data loss when compared with the year before. Unfortunately this number will continue to increase as more companies embrace new trends such as desktop virtualisation and BYOD. The only way to minimise these risks is to know which problems to watch out for and to act during the golden hour.

Even the smallest disruption to daily activity can have a profound impact on a business or individual. The longer data is unavailable, the greater the impact on financial loss and corporate reputation. Organisations are advised to have a formal incident management plan in place.

This should include a data backup strategy to minimise the chance of losing data (ed : or reduce the amount of data lost) and a disaster recovery assessment that identifies a reputable data recovery service provider that staff can depend on during a crisis.

Robert Winter is responsible for all operations within the area of disaster recovery in the Kroll Ontrack labs, based at the UK headquarters in Epsom. He joined Kroll Ontrack in 1995 as a lab supervisor, specialising in tape recovery and computer forensics before quickly being promoted to manager of engineering for data recovery.