What are file and data recovery?

Data recovery in computing is the process of retrieving or salvaging data that you cannot access any more. Data may become inaccessible because it has been damaged, corrupted, or lost due to a Windows reinstallation, system booting failure, hard drive accidental formatting, virus attack, etc.

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Image Source: adapted from https://www.easeus.com/

File recovery is similar. The term refers to the retrieval or salvaging of a damaged or deleted computer file. As files contain data, we can usually use the two terms – data or file recovery – interchangeably, i.e., with the same meaning.

According to EaseUS, a software company in data recovery, data backup, and disk management, it is possible to salvage deleted data or files with a utility program if the space that the deleted file occupied has not been overwritten. Overwritten, in this context, means taken over by another file.

Damaged data or files are not always recoverable

It is only possible to salvage a damaged file if its data has not been destroyed or corrupted beyond a certain degree.

If the hardware is intact, a software and systems expert will try to recover the file. If the hardware is also damaged, the software expert will have to work with a computer hardware technician (computer repair technician).

Software vs. hardware

Software includes all the programs within a computer. Without software, a computer or any other smart device does not function.

We refer to the physical parts of a computer or electronic device as the hardware. The screen, keyboard, and motherboard are parts of the hardware.

Data recovery software for lay people

In most cases, you won’t even need to call an expert if you lose data. There is data recovery software available today that lay people can use.

Good software companies have a manual or guide with easy-to-follow instructions.

Data recovery vs. data restoration

Do not confuse these two terms – data restoration and data recovery. People often mistakenly use them interchangeably.

Data restoration refers to bringing back data from a backup source. With data recovery, however, a data backup source does not exist.

What can I do if I accidentally lose data in my hard drive? Perhaps somebody stole my laptop, I dropped and damaged it, or I erased files by mistake. If I backed up all my data in, for example, the cloud or a USB drive, I can retrieve it. This is an example of data restoration.

Data recovery is highly technical, time-consuming, and extremely resource intensive. Data restoration is not.

Recovering data remotely

Thanks to modern technology, recovery experts do not always have to come to you. They can recover your data or files remotely.

Wikipedia says the following regarding remote data recovery:

“Recovery experts do not always need to have physical access to the damaged hardware. When the lost data can be recovered by software techniques, they can often perform the recovery using remote access software over the Internet, LAN or other connection to the physical location of the damaged media.”

“The process is essentially no different from what the end user could perform by themselves.”