Risk vs. Reward Using Data Recovery Software

Nov 20, 2014

Everyone likes to get the biggest bang for their buck, sometimes that means doing things yourself. Many people have joined the do-it-yourself (DIY) movement during the last few years, mostly because of the advances of the Internet. Now there are many DIY sites that share information people need to fix their mowers, patch their tires, revamp their computers, and much more. Unfortunately for some inexperienced individuals this can have disastrous effects they won’t discover until it’s too late.

While there are many programs that can help recover lost data, most of them are low-level programs and aren’t meant to rebuild hard drives from nothing. Data professionals analyze the problem and use programs in which they make various adjustments to yield the best results, while many DIY programs have operators click start and wait for something to happen. Many of these programs do a great job, but they don’t usually get to the heart of the hard drive issue. They just address the overarching effects. They are able fix logical errors, but are not able to fix failing read/write heads. So, let’s look at the risks and rewards of using data recovery software.


The rewards for using data recovery software are different for different people. For some, it is the price. People can save a lot of money by performing low-level data recovery tasks on their own. Occasionally, people do things themselves to say they’ve mastered a new task, but usually they choose DIY because it’s cheaper.

There are few free recovery programs to choose from: Recuva, Puran File Recovery, EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard, and, of course, your computer’s native disk tool, like Disk Utility. If you’re willing to spend a little, there are also some comparatively inexpensive ones like: DiskWarrior, Techtool OPro, and R-Studio. Whether you choose free or not, performing a data recovery yourself will be significantly cheaper than going to a professional, though it will be less thorough and safe.

Another reward of data recovery software is simplicity. A computer user doesn’t have to be a highly trained technician to operate it. Users can have the program on their computers to use it whenever and wherever they like. This can be a huge advantage if users are far away from a data recovery business or don’t have an internet connection or cell service.

When every moment counts, the quickest way to start recovering data is to do it yourself, and if the problem isn’t that serious or it’s a logical problem, you should be able to fix it. Depending on who you are, the rewards can be quite satisfying, but there are sometimes data recovery software just isn’t an option.


Not every DIY data recovery is risky, but the ones that are risky can have serious consequences if done improperly. The risks for a computer user can come from a variety of sources, but most relate to the user’s lack of computer knowledge. If the user has had a virus that corrupted or deleted some of his or her files, plain recovery program won’t do much. This is especially true if it is a quick-working virus. Sometimes the only option a user has is shutting down his or her computer immediately and taking it to an expert.

If the problem with the hard drive is anything physical, it is not recommended to perform DIY data recovery operations. Distressing noises will precede most, but not all, physical hard drive failures. Data recovery software can only fix logical errors and will not fit any kind of physical error. In the world of hard drives, if something bad happens to a drive, it only gets worse, not better. If there is a problem, and you prolong or enable it, the consequences are unpleasant. It is important to fix all physical problems before the logical problems, which is known as universal data recovery. If your drive starts clicking, humming or tapping you need to power it down before doing anything else. The longer you allow it to run while malfunctioning, the more data it is likely to be corrupt. If you have bad sectors on you hard disk, they can spread to other parts of the hard drive and corrupt your data very quickly. All of this corrupted data will be unrecoverable.

The most common cause for your hard drive failure is a problem with your disk’s read/write heads. They are the part of the hard drive that put down and take up bits of data. They are located on the drive’s actuator arms and are very precise and fragile. Your hard disk has platters that rotate anywhere from 4,200 to 15,000 revolutions per minute. When the disk gets too hot or is jostled, those heads can damage the platter causing data loss. If the drive is allowed to keep turning, the damage will increase. Do-it-yourself data recovery software requires you to keep your drive spinning, so by using it you are actually causing more damage. The only way to fix the drive is to take it apart and replace the malfunctioning pieces. A data recovery program can’t do that, only a data recovery professional can.

About 85 percent of hard drive crashes are due to internal problems with the heads. That means about 85 percent of the time, using data recovery software will be risky. And if your drive is making a noise, 100 percent of time you are risking data loss by using data recovery software instead of a professional.

Computer software can only do so much. If you truly value the data on your drive, you will send it to a professional who has a very practiced process to recover data. The first thing he should do is repair the drive. The drive needs to have all of its pieces in good working order to be able to extract data without corrupting it. The second thing he should do is image the drive to keep as much data as possible. When he has extracted all of the data, he should fix all the problems in the file systems. That’s when data recovery software is helpful. If there is a physical problem, using it is always a risk.