When you are an engineer by choice, your engineering brain is ‘on’ all the time. This is the reason why I am always trying to help my friends, family and neighbors with every single problem they face with their computers. Lately, I have understood that my expertise is more with the software side of things. Most of the people who come to me, come with a common problem – they have lost data from their device. Yes, the software can help them with this. But I have a logical solution that goes beyond just looking into the software.
There are three stages of the problem of data loss – prevention, problem acknowledgment and curing. Let’s look into each stage and see what it means as well as how to tackle it:
I cannot stress this enough – this is the best solution. Prevention makes you proactive. Instead of waiting for the problem to come and gulp you, you keep the preparations handy and steer away from the problem.
In order to understand how to prevent data loss, you should know the common reasons why people lose data.
a. The hardware in their device got damaged due to an accident or misuse.
b.The software either got outdated or corrupted.
c. They deleted the data by accident.
Each of these three scenarios will cover pretty much all the situations under which you may lose data. There are a few very simple measures you can take to avoid these situations:
a. Keep a backup of your device memory and update it regularly: I have created several folders on several cloud platforms. I use these cloud platforms for backing up all the data from my phone, laptop and even a camera. Once I have backed up all the data, I can clean up the device memory and free up space. Even if I don’t want to create more free space, I am still immune to potential data loss now.
b.Buying quality covers and cases for your devices: Whether it’s your phone, laptop or camera, do yourself a favour and invest in a quality case. Ideally, this case should be shock-absorbent and water-resistant. Looks are not really important here. I have avoided several situations where my device’s hardware would be severely damaged if I was not using a quality case.
c. Don’t use pirated software: Whether it’s a book or a movie or just a small software package, avoid using any pirated software. Not just that, don’t pair your device with any device that uses pirated software. Piracy is a crime. At the same time, it makes your device vulnerable to unwanted threats and viruses. Also, keep updating your software frequently to avoid obsolescence.
In an ideal world, prevention would do the trick. But we don’t live in an ideal world. This is the step where you get to know that you have lost data.
Google is a great tool. If you start searching on Google, you will find several idiosyncratic methods to retrieve data. There are apps like Jihosoft and Undeleter for phones as well as Recuva, Puran and Disk Drill for PCs, I am not sure about their efficacy. Being a software engineer I understand the fact that these are great technological tools. But like every other method of data retrieval, there is no guarantee that you will be able to retrieve data. For most of the data loss cases, if the data lost was in the device’s memory, there is almost no way for you to retrieve it.
I don’t see any harm in trying them out, but 100% of data retrieval is theoretically very difficult. What I want you to focus on, are a few ‘pieces of advice’ that you may find online or receive from your loved ones. These pieces of advice will do more harm to your device. Hence, stay away from them:
a. Do not try to root your device once it is damaged: I often tell people that unless you are a professional commissioned by the company to do so, you should not try to jailbreak or root your phone. Some people take my advice and refrain from doing so. But when they have lost data from their phone or PC, they are desperate to try new measures. You should understand – if you try to do this, you are breaching your contract with the device manufacturer. This will cause a major issue if you try to get it serviced at an authorized dealer’s store.
b. Don’t try to reset your device: Some people may tell you that resetting your device might help you get the data back. Common sense will tell you that it is impossible to retrieve any data once you have hit factory reset mode.
c. Don’t manipulate the hardware: The great Indian technique of tapping your device here and there does nothing. In many cases, it might even harm your device. Don’t try to open your device to change or repair the hardware.
This step is all about one thing – understanding that you have lost data and taking measures to retrieve it from other parties who might have it. If the data is related to your work, your IT team or your clients must have kept a backup. This is the time when you should intimate them about the data you have lost and tell them that you are in the process of retrieving it.
I love using this term because it clearly states that getting your data back is almost as relieving as getting cured of a disease. Each company has its authorized set of businesses that provide maintenance and repair services. Some innovative companies even come and collect your device from your place. All you have to do is go to the company website and see which are the authorized service providers and where are they located. Once you have removed your memory card and SIM card from the device, you can give it for recovery.
Being an engineer well-versed in these issues, I have given my devices for recovery more often than I would like to admit. That said and done, I have witnessed that my devices get recovered almost every single time and I am able to retrieve most of my data.
Data loss becomes a problem when you don’t have a backup of all the data. Once you have backed up everything, there’s not much for you to worry about. If you don’t have a backup and have lost data from your device, you should go to an authorized repair service provider. And this comes from someone who has been through the cycle of repair more than once with next to no data loss.4