You hope it never happens to you, but it probably will—hard drive failure, a virus or other malicious software, or some other accident, and suddenly you can’t access your data. Any hard drive will inevitably fail, one way or another, and so it’s important to have a plan in place for when such emergencies happen.
Have the number of a reputable data recovery company on hand in case of data emergencies. Make sure you find one that is reputable. Data recovery can be expensive and time consuming, so you don’t want to trust your machinery to just anyone. It’s important to make sure that the company you choose has the correct clean room environment and a strong security setup so that no one can just walk in and walk out with your data. A good company should offer a free evaluation and quote of how much the job will cost you.
You can have a plan to try to fix it yourself, but you are only going to be able to do so much yourself. Eventually, you may have to call in an expert. Beware—do not open the hard drive. Exposing the delicate parts inside the drive to contaminants in the air will degrade them. Keep a USB bus handy for data emergencies and data recovery software on your computer or a secondary computer if that’s an option available to you. A program like Recuva or TestDisk can help you recover some data from a failed drive, but there’s no guarantees. If the drive is physically damaged or you can’t get the drive to respond even when hooked up to another computer, you’re going to have to get some expert help.
Most importantly, in case of failure, you need to back up your files. Common wisdom is that you should have two backups—an online storage and a physical backup on a secondary drive. This way, when data emergencies occur, you can get from drive to drive with as little pain and misery as possible. When the hard drive is exhibiting signs of failure is probably too late to make backups, but late is better than never, so make sure you save your most important files.
Data emergencies can be scary and difficult to deal with, but with proper planning and some forethought, you can save yourself some serious trouble down the line.