During the life of a computer, users might encounter various problems. Some of them are just annoying and can be dealt with rather easily, while others may even result in the whole machine landing in the dumpster. But regardless of the gravity of the error, most users agree that very few issues are more dreaded than data corruption.
However, unlike computer components that unavoidably deteriorate over time, data corruption is always caused by unnatural circumstances. For this reason, it’s best to know what may cause the corruption of data, because depending on the nature and the severity of the data loss, there is a chance that the corrupted data can be saved after all.
When the computer’s power fails due to unforeseen circumstances – like a power outage or the failure of the power supply – it isn’t just frustrating but, due to the unexpected shutdown, this may result in booting problems and even the loss of any data that wasn’t saved. Aside from the most obvious step to take – which is saving your data as often as possible and copying it to other storage options – it’s best to ensure an uninterrupted power supply for power outages and, ideally, a power surge protector to prevent sudden spikes in voltage. However, if it’s the power supply itself that causes trouble, then a good cleaning is in order or unfortunately a replacement if that doesn’t help.
Since data is written on a hard drive in clusters or sectors of storage, keeping them intact is of utmost importance. However, when the computer simply cannot read particular clusters, then this is a sign that you’re facing with bad sectors. To make things worse, not only do bad sectors result in irreparable data loss, but if the issue originates from physical damage, then the storage is a goner, too. Logical bad sectors – caused by faulty software – at least can be fixed using built-in tools like Windows’s Disk Check, but since the process involves overwriting the damaged sector, it still means that any data stored in that particular cluster is lost.
As such, the only way to prevent data from being lost for good is to make copies on other storage drives, ensuring installed apps are up to date and, just in case, creating a disk image with a data recovery solution.
Viruses and Malware
It’s a well-known fact that anything connected to the internet is at risk of being infected by a virus or malware, which are getting nastier and more sophisticated with each passing year. Aside from causing a major headache, viruses and malware are designed to damage the infected device as much as possible. It’s even worse if the computer is involved in a ransomware attack that blocks access to certain files and threatens the victim to pay or the encrypted data will be deleted.
Thankfully, being constantly aware and avoiding suspicious links and files is a good start to prevent your data from being encrypted by malware. However, the best defense is still a well-equipped antivirus and continuously keeping your apps and operating system up to date.
Computers are subject to natural wear and tear, but nothing is put under more pressure than hard drives. Sadly, it doesn’t matter whether or not you take every precaution to keep your drives healthy, sooner or later they are going to start failing, resulting in all the data left on the failed drive gradually becoming corrupted. However, there are always noticeable signs indicating hardware failure like strange noises and frequent error messages. And unless the drive is failing due to mechanical reasons – the only solution for which is scrapping the whole thing altogether – there is a high chance that this data can still be safely retrieved from the drive without major corruption.
Once it’s determined that no further data is added to the dying drive or after it’s been safely removed from the computer, all you need to do is check whether data can be recovered at all by running a scan with a data recovery app. If this succeeds, then upgrade the software by purchasing a license – unless it’s Recuva which doesn’t require such a thing – and the recovery process can commence.