Consider the most important part of your home business. If a family member or your spouse is involved, then they should of course come first, but you might consider your data to be a close second. In today’s world, access to data (and how that information is used) can be one of the main reasons for a company’s success or failure. Unfortunately, sometimes data can be lost or damaged, so home business owners need to know when a DIY fix is possible and when a data recovery expert needs to become involved.

The DIY Approach

Build a Plan. One step that should certainly be completed on your own is the creation of a data management and recovery plan. A formal plan that covers disasters and the basics of where your data resides is crucial to keeping your business viable. As a home-based business, you may not be massive in size, but that doesn’t mean you don’t produce and store a large amount of data, and that your data isn’t the lifeblood of the organization. Building a written plan forces you to take stock of the information you have at your disposal and to develop safeguards. Make the plan as detailed as possible, including steps on creating backups and how you will recover data in the case of an emergency. Line up qualified vendors and know the best practices of data recovery before you have an issue, so you’ll be prepared to act quickly in the case of loss.

Use Software in the Right Circumstances. Perhaps you utilize SD cards or use USB flash drives with your business – keeping important photo, documents or video files that are vital for your company’s growth. When these devices are damaged, you can choose free software utilities that promise to retrieve the data quickly. However, some of these programs are typically very flawed and can be filled with malware (bad computer viruses) that can turn a SD card problem into something that wrecks your entire network. As long as the device you are trying to recover from is working properly there is no cause for alarm.

For flash memory products such as thumb drives and SD cards, you should choose a software tool such as SanDisk’s RescuePRO™ which guides you through the recovery process. The same is true for hard drives, there are utilities on the market that can help you recover from deleted files, formatted drives and file system corruption.

If you do choose to try and use a DIY recovery utility, make sure you don’t install it on the device you’re trying to recover from as you risk the chance of overwriting the existing data. If the device or hard drive makes a detectable noise or becomes overly warm, then you need the services of a professional, not a utility.

Call in the Experts

Beware Water Damage.  If your cat spills your coffee on your external hard drive, or you drop your laptop in the hot tub, then you need expert assistance. One tip is to not power on the computer, instead letting it air dry. Don’t use a hair dryer as excessive heat can damage small electrical components and don’t try to open the drive as this can introduce dust particles that can damage the platters within the hard drive. If you drop the drive into salt water (or you get flooded), then you should briefly rinse it with clean fresh water in order to remove salt deposits that can be very difficult to deal with once they dry. And don’t shake the drive in an attempt to get out drops of water. The shaking can damage internal parts and cause water to enter new areas – which can result in further damage. Water intrusion requires an expert hand with specialized equipment.

Fear the Dreaded Clicking Hard Drive. This type of noise is indicative of a serious failure, typically platter or actuator damage when one of the drive heads crashes. You need an expert for this scenario because the drive must be opened in a clean room environment in a lab. If you hear clicks, it’s best to turn off the computer immediately and then leave it alone until you can deliver it to the recovery lab. Don’t try the tried and true method of “turn it off and turn it back on” as that may cause further degradation and increase the chance that data will be lost permanently.

If you are a tinkerer and enjoy taking things apart, then you can experiment with changing out circuit boards and other fixes. But beware, hard drives are pretty fragile, and you should only attempt to work with drives that hold nonessential data. If your entire customer database is on a drive, then shouldn’t you be willing to pay an expert company in order to recover the information?

How to Pick a Recovery Partner. When you do need a data recovery professional, it’s important to do thorough research. Unfortunately there are many disreputable companies in the industry. You want a firm with quality reviews, references, and accessible customer support through both phone and email. Remember that data is vital to the success of your home business, so it pays to take some time to research a reputable firm. And this research should be a part of your data recovery plan. Do it proactively and you won’t be scrambling to find a data recovery firm when your hard drive burns out.

Backups to the Rescue

While it’s important to know when you can attempt a DIY data recovery and when you need an expert, every home business owner should rely on backups to their precious data. If you have multiple redundant backups, then it won’t matter if you drop your laptop or accidently run a thumb drive through a wash and dry cycle. Implement a system for cloud and physical storage (external hard drives) storage to eliminate difficult data recovery decisions.


LC Technology International, Inc. is a global leader in data recovery, file system utilities and data security technology. Clients include original equipment manufacturers, local, state and federal law enforcement agencies, corporate security specialists and IT consultants, among others. Available worldwide and published in more than 24 different languages, LC Technology products are available direct or through several major manufacturers of flash memory products. Founded in 1997, LC Technology is based in Clearwater, Florida.

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