Industry voice: The birth of data recovery

Industry voice: The birth of data recovery

When data loss happens to us, recovering data is pretty much all we can think about. Suddenly, data is no longer about lines of code.

Data is personal and real. Data is something valuable. It’s a picture of your new-born child or the text with the phone number of the potential customer. The CV and cover letter you’ve spent three hours writing. The blueprint of a new innovation that will change the world!

The feeling of losing something is terrible and we try to find ways to protect things that are valuable. Yet we are always very close to harm’s way when it comes to losing all the content that defines us or our businesses.

Just imagine for a second how many people across the UK have currently fallen victim to the floods sweeping across the country.

They are not only facing the agony of dealing with a flooded home, but also the headache of repairing a lot of damaged equipment like smartphones, PCs, tablets and iPods- devices that store everything from business contacts to term papers to wedding videos.

Natural disasters like these hit us hard and it’s never a laughing matter.

Data loss disasters

Of course, there’s always been and always will be problems with the weather – not to mention accidents like fires or human errors like deletions. But things have changed massively in that we’ve entered a period in history where there are heightened data-related risks both in the real world and virtual cloud.

It’s no surprise that more individuals and companies need assistance when their technology lets them down and suddenly data is lost, stolen or destroyed.

We’ve seen our fair share of disaster scenarios since Kroll Ontrack was born nearly 30 years ago. People have cried and panicked, while others have stood in silence in the hallway or prayed for a miracle. Data loss, as we see it, is an emotional experience that’s hard to bounce back from if the data isn’t recovered.

At Kroll Ontrack, our job has grown in complexity over time, but what remains constant is the initial shock and fear of losing a life’s work or a personal piece of memorabilia like priceless photos. Data loss matters on many levels and that will never change.

We didn’t get into this business with the purpose of recovering data. Ironically, we, like the data that’s lost, are the result of an accident!

Kroll Ontrack performed the world’s first commercial data recovery in 1985- the year a business called Ontrack Computer Systems built a software programme that made it easy to install a computer hard disk.

At the time, due to operating system and BIOS constraints, computers couldn’t maximise the entire capacity of hard drives. The software programme, called Disk Manager, was attractive to disk manufacturers because of its capability to override a computer’s BIOS.

For the first time ever users could install a drive in their computer, and, with a click of a button, obtain full storage capacity for the hard drive. The manufacturers were delighted with the innovation and began to include Disk Manager with their products, and the software went on to sell millions of copies.

It was a partnership that was made in heaven, and helped to create a new career path for Ontrack Computer Systems in the world of data recovery.

New data problems to solve

Working closely with disk manufacturers gave the engineers at Ontrack Computer Systems the chance to become experts in how all disk drives read and write data to their platters and how different operating systems use storage. It was this expertise that prepared them for the world’s first commercial data recovery in 1987.

That year, a US firm approached Ontrack Computer Systems after it lost the CAD drawings of a rubbish truck. The business had spent all its time and money designing the new product when suddenly the server hard drives crashed. The founder of the company was in despair. His whole vision for the future was now blurred by the prospect of never recovering the months of work they’d completed.

Accidental data recovery experts

In a panic, the CEO contacted the hard drive and the operating system manufacturers for help but their attempts to get the data back failed. His panic turned to fear. If the actual disk makers and platform manufacturers couldn’t recover data, what hope did the entrepreneur have left?

Keen to maintain strong customer relations, the manufacturer suggested that the company contact Ontrack Computer Systems for help.

Being the first time it had ever attempted a recovery, the engineers were naturally worried about the prospects of getting the data back. And, it took time to see any progress, which only added to their fears.

In fact, they spent weeks on the crashed drive before they finally had a tiny breakthrough and a few weeks after that before the files- all of them- were recovered.

The CAD drawings were restored, a business was saved and Ontrack Computer Systems became Ontrack Data Recovery® – the world’s first data recovery business.

Long distance troubles

Since that first project Kroll Ontrack has saved many business and ideas from becoming victims of data loss. Some are memorable and life changing for companies.

For example, a few years back, the employees at Kroll Ontrack’s US HQ came to work one morning to find a businessman waiting in the parking lot. The gentleman had flown directly from Japan and had turned up unannounced. He was told by his company to not come back until the problem they faced was solved by Kroll Ontrack.

The man worked for one of the world’s biggest automotive multinational. The blue print for a new sports car they had spent a lot of time and money designing had disappeared in a terrible data disaster.

Without the information, the company would lose a lot of money as well as its market position as other competitors prepared for the launch of their new sports cars that same year.

Kroll Ontrack went straight to work on the files the man brought from Tokyo. Not only were they burdened with retrieving the lost data, but also worried about saving the man’s job!

Like many complicated recoveries, this one took some time to find a solution, and fortunately for the car company, there was a happy ending. After hours of careful analysis and several painstaking attempts, all the data was restored.

The manufacturers were thrilled and the sports car was launched. It quickly became one of the most successful Japanese cars of all time.

You are probably wondering how a car firm could ever repay Kroll Ontrack for restoring their data? The Japanese execs kindly offered all who had worked on the project a complimentary car.

In compliance with corporate regulations, however, Kroll Ontrack’s staff had to politely refuse the kind offer. Alas, they were left dreaming about what it would be like to drive the sports car they helped bring to life!

Data disasters here to stay

Times have changed and so have the types of storage devices that manage data. Things like solid-state drives in business computing, desktop virtualisation and BYOD are new innovations that present recovery challenges that didn’t exist 30 years ago.

Data recovery is also a lot more difficult to perform because of the complex nature of data storage within today’s devices, but Kroll Ontrack is up for the challenge.

The great relationship formed between Kroll Ontrack, the manufacturers and the OEMs nearly 30 years ago keeps the company close to the technology and innovations that are reshaping data forms.

It also ensures that Kroll Ontrack is always prepared to deal with new recovery issues- whether they are corporate or personal matters.

If there’s one thing that experience has taught us it’s this: disasters will continue to come and go, but Kroll Ontrack and the need to recover data is here to stay.

From: techradar.com

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