Computer Data Loss, a Serious and a Very Expensive Threats

Computer Data LossData loss is an expensive reality. It’s a hard fact that it happens more often than users like to admit. A computer data loss disaster can mean lost income and missed business opportunities or worse, it will make companies go out of business.

The other side of data loss is the psychological and emotional turmoil it can cause to IT managers and business owners. Despair, panic, and the knowledge that the whole organization might be at risk are involved. In a sense, that’s only fair, since human error is one of the two largest contributing factors in data loss. Together with mechanical failure, it accounts for almost 75 per cent of all incidents. (Software corruption, computer viruses and physical disasters such as fire and water damage make up the rest.)

Disk drives today are typically reliable. Human beings, it turns out, are not. A study has reveal that approximately 15 per cent of all unplanned downtime occurred due to human error. A significant proportion of that happened because users failed to implement adequate backup procedures, either having trouble with their backups, or having no backup at all.

In many cases, the problem starts long before the precipitating system error is made, that is, when users place their faith in out-of-box solutions that may not, in fact, fit their organization’s needs. Instead of assessing their business and technology requirements, then going to an appropriate engineered solution, even experienced IT professionals at large corporations will often simply buy what they’re sold. In this case, faith in technology can be a vice instead of a virtue.

Sometimes, the underlying cause of a data loss event is simply shoddy housekeeping. The more arduous the required backup routine, the less likely it will be done on a regular basis. A state ambulance monitoring system suffered a serious disk failure, only to discover that its automated backup hadn’t run for fourteen months. A tape had jammed in the drive, but no-one had noticed.

When disaster strikes, the normal human reaction is panic. Because the loss of data signifies critical consequences, even the most competent IT staff can jump to conclusions, and take inappropriate action. A blank screen at a critical time can lead to a series of naive decisions, each one compounding the preceding error. Wrong buttons get pushed, and the disaster only gets worse.

Sometimes the pressure to correct the system failure speedily can result in an attempt to reconfigure an entire RAID array. IT specialists are typically not equipped to deal with crisis modes or data recovery techniques. Just as a good physician is trained to prolong life, the skilled IT specialist is trained to keep the system running. When a patient dies, the physician turns to others, such as nurses or counselors to manage the situation. When significant data loss occurs, the IT specialist turns to the data recovery professional.

Data recovery specialists are innovative problem solvers. Often, the application of basic common sense, when no-one else is in any condition to apply it, is the beginning of the journey towards data recovery. The data recovery specialist draws on a wealth of experience, married to a “never say die” attitude, and a comprehensive tool kit of problem-solving procedures.

Successful recovery outcomes hinge on a combination of innovative logistics, applied problem-solving, and “technology triage,” the process of stabilizing an affected system quickly, analyzing and treating its wounds, and preparing it for surgery. The triage process sets priorities, such as targeting which files are needed first or which are absolutely vital to the functioning of the business, and establishes whether files might be recovered in less structured formats (such as text-only), which may be desirable when time is crucial.

The art and science of professional data recovery can spell the difference between a business’ success or its failure. Before that level of intervention is required, though, users can take steps to ensure that the probability of a data loss disaster is minimized.

Basic to any business technology plan is a regular fire-drill procedure. Back-up routines may be in place, staff may assigned to specific roles, hardware and software may be configured – but, if the user isn’t completely sure that everything works the way it should, a data loss event is inevitable.

Having adequate, tested, and current backups in place is critical. A hardware breakdown should not be compounded by human error – if the malfunctioning drive is critical, the task of dealing with it should go to a data recovery professional.

Just as data loss disasters are rooted in a combination of mechanical failure and human error, so, too, the data recovery solution lies in a creative marriage of the technological and the human. The underlying philosophy of successful data recovery is that technology is something to be used by human beings, not something that uses us.

Power Supply Problems

Power Supply ProblemsThe power supply convert’s your regular household current into low DC voltage used by the computer. When this component fails, there is simply no activity going on with your computer. Remember to do the easy troubleshooting first. Inspect the Power Supply for any damage. Double-Check all connections.

Learning how to check your power supply and how to replace it when needed can be a life saver if you’re a computer buff or in business with the trusted PC. Don’t take for granted the simple pleasure of turning on your PC and everything works just fine.

Here are some signs that could indicate when your power supply is going bad or just dies on you;

No power to the computer

Here you must first check the wall outlet for power by connecting another device such as a radio or lamp to be sure power is present. If the computer is connected through a surge protector, check it as well.

If the wall out has power, check the power cable going to the PC to see if AC voltage is making its way to the system unit. Do this with the use of a multimeter.

If there is power, you will have to open the PC and check for power from the power supply to the motherboard.

When using a multimeter to check voltage, be sure you have a good ground for the black lead of the multimeter.

Re-booting problems

One main problem you may face with an ailing Power Supply is that it may re-boot the computer without any warning. All information is lost and it seems as though this happens at the worst possible time.

Booting errors when the computer first start’s up is another indicator of this component going on the blink.

Power distribution problems

When the power supply begins to fail, you may receive power at one device and not another. For example, the Hard Drive may receive power but the CDROM Drive has nothing at all.

Another headache with would cause re-booting is the intermittent power going to the drives or the motherboard itself. Follow the steps below to check your power supply should you experience some of the above problems.

Checking the power supply

If the wall outlet and the power cord are good, make sure the connection at the motherboard is secure. Then you may have to face the fact that the power supply itself is bad. If you have a Multimeter you can test the power supply output before purchasing a new one. Simply follow these steps.

Turn off the PC, but do not unplug it, open the system unit. Set the multimeter to read DC volts in the next range higher than 12 volts. Locate a power connector similair to the hard drive, or cdrom drive connector that is unused and turn on the PC.

You can also unplug a drive connector and use it as well. Turn on the PC and insert the BLACK probe into the power connector on one of the BLACK wires. Touch the RED probe to the YELLOW wire on the power connector.

The multimeter reading should be +12 volts. Now touch the RED probe to the RED wire and the reading should be +5 volts. If no readings or different readings occurred, you’ll have to replace the power supply. If the readings were correct, you should check the P8 or P9 connectors at the motherboard. These connectors may also be named P4 and P5. To check these connectors, perform the following. . .

Insert the BLACK probe into P8 at one of the BLACK wires. Insert the RED probe into the P8 connector at the RED wire. The reading on the multimeter should be +5 volts

Check the power going to the Motherboard connections by inserting the RED probe into P8 at the YELLOW wire and you should get +12 volts. Leave the BLACK wire touching the black wire at the P8 connector. Check the BLUE wire and the reading should be a -12 volts.

Now move the BLACK probe to the BLACK wire on the P9 connector. Test the WHITE wire by inserting the RED probe and the reading should be -5 volts. Check the RED wires on the P9 connector and you should get +5 volts on each red wire. You won’t get exactly 5 or 12 volts but the readings will be very close, such as 5.02 volts.

If the Power Supply is a couple of volts off, in either direction, such as when the RED wire should be reading -5 volts but it reads -8 volts, or if there are no readings, replace the power supply.

DO NOT remove the power supply from the system unit case when performing these tests. DO NOT perform these tests if you do not feel comfortable or do not know what you’re doing. Be sure to remove any and all electrical static build-up from your clothes and body BEFORE touching any parts inside the system unit. And NEVER open the power supply case for any reason, since high voltage may be present.

Few Tips to Protect Your Laptop from Theft

Protecting Your Laptop from TheftThe following is a list of tips to help safeguard your laptop while traveling or conducting business.

Never leave your laptop unattended. Keep your laptop in your physical possession at all times and pay particular attention at the following locations: airports, hotels, car rental agencies, offices, restaurants, college campuses, restrooms, payphones, libraries, bars, hospitals, conferences centers, train stations and bus terminals.

Record your laptop’s serial number, make and model information in your purse or wallet so if your computer is stolen, the information will be readily available when you file a police report.

Disguise your carrying case. By carrying your laptop in a case designed specifically for computers, you alert thieves to the fact that you are carrying something valuable. Instead, consider carrying your laptop in an ordinary piece of luggage, satchel, briefcase or other inconspicuous bag.

Lock it up! Use computer- locking cables to secure your laptop to a desk or table.

Etch, engrave or permanently mark your computer with your name and phone number. You might also consider placing several of your business cards inside carrying case pockets.

Cary your laptop when you are on a trip. Never place a computer in checked luggage.

Identify your carrying case in some unusual way. Brightly colored tape, yarn or tags will help you to locate your bag in the event it comes up missing. When traveling, you might also consider affixing something brightly colored to your actual laptop ( in light of new security measures at airports, travelers are required to remove their laptops from their cases at security checkpoints).

Put it in the trunk. If your laptop must be left in your car, store it in the trunk of the vehicle prior to arriving at the final destination.

Regularly back up information. Make sure you store this information separately in case your computer is stolen.

Report it stolen as soon as possible. In the event that your laptop is lost or stolen, make sure you report it missing to your employer and local authorities as soon as possible. This will help to speed up the recovery process, if the authorities find your laptop or catch the thief.

Computer Forensics to Help Solving a Crime

Computer ForensicsComputer Forensics is the scientific study of computers or computer related data in relation to an investigation by a law enforcement agency for use in a court of law. While this technology may be as old as computers themselves, the advances in technology are constantly revising the science of computer forensics.

In the technological old days, computer forensics was mostly related to data dumps, printing out every keystroke that had been logged on a computer in a series of eight digits, all of them zeroes and ones. Literally cases of paper would be used for the printing of the materials. Systems analysts would then have to convert all of the data into hex and then translate the value into whatever the actual keystroke was.

In this way, it was possible to go over all of the data and figure out at what point the computer and the corresponding program crashed. Like computers and technology, Computer forensics has evolved by leaps and bounds since those days of old.

While all computer language still ultimately boils down to ones and zeroes or binary and then hex, the means by which programs are created, run and utilized has changed drastically. Computer forensics has done well to keep up with the task at hand. Now hard drives can be wiped clean. However, without an unconditional format (and in rare cases, even with the unconditional switch) the data can still be retrieved.

It takes an expert in computer forensics however. It takes someone who is familiar with the technology of the computer and the science of computer forensics to reconstruct all of the data that has been wiped off of the hard drive.

Computer forensics can be used to track emails, instant messaging and just about any other form of computer related communications. This can be necessary, especially in the world today. Computer forensics experts have even advanced the technology to the point that they can track data real time, or while it is actually being sent and received.

This is a mind-numbing task when you think about the billions of communications going on around the globe at any given time, but the science of computer forensics is constantly advancing every bit as quickly or sometimes even faster than the technology they are responsible for investigating.

Computer forensics is an interesting aspect of technology that is often overlooked. Computer forensics has been used to solve many crimes and should be considered a viable tool in many ways. The study of computer forensics is constantly growing along with technology.