Operating System Crash or Errors

A system crash or random application errors are an all too common occurrence, the root cause of which can be due to one more differing problems. Such problems can range from any number of hardware faults through to software and logical errors, affecting drivers or the file systems. Repeated attempts at rebooting the computer are unlikely to fix the problem unless you can find the real cause of the problem. Should the computer reboot it you may be lucky, but there is a good chance that the problem may reoccur due to an underlying issue.

If your computer is crashing regularly or unexpected software errors start to occur, it is important to take action before the safety of your data is put at risk. Repeatedly rebooting a computer which is suffering from crashes could very likely risk make the problem worse, and make data recovery a more difficult process.

Hardware Problems

A hard disk drive problem is the most likely to put your data at risk, although a failure of a memory module could have the potential to cause corruption. Determining the cause of a hardware issue is important, as some could lead to further failure, such as the failure of a cooling fan, which may lead to a reboot due to the computer becoming too hot.

If the hard disk drive is failing, it is important to ensure that your data is backed up before data recovery is required. Although the occasional computer crash can happen with no problems occurring, it is easy to become complacent, such that an increase in crashes is not seen as unusual.

Software and Logical Data Corruption

Some crashes may be caused by driver errors, software corruption or file system damage. Driver issues and software corruption will most likely be inconveniences, which should be resolvable by their reinstallation. Some file system damage may be the consequence of a sudden reboot, through a power failure or a system error, which is usually fixed without any problems when the file system is mounted.

File system damage caused by unreadable bad sectors or malware damage in many cases cannot be easily fixed, and often an attempt to fix it may cause further corruption of the file system. Most users will install anti-virus software, which will usually provide protection, but does not guarantee the safety of your data.

Crashes and Data Recovery

If your problem appears to be due to either malware problems or a failure of the hard disk drive, it is important to power your system down and seek professional help. In such a case any attempt to reboot the system, even if it succeeds could be causing further damage, which could cause loss of data.

In most cases data recovery should be possible as damage to the file system is usually only minor. However if the corruption becomes too severe the level of data recovery success will be affected, as important data structures and even file data may be too damaged. All computer systems and file systems are at risk when this occurs, so it is important to act before it is too late.

Failure After Power Outage

Failure of the power supply or a power cut can result in damage to electronic components in a computer. When the power fails there is a small chance of a power surge occurring and also when power is restored.

If a failure occurs it is usually just a matter of inconvenience waiting for the damaged component to be easily replaced. However, if the hard disk drive has failed, it is not a simple case of replacing the drive and being back up and running. If the hard disk contains important data, it should be sent for data recovery, as it requires professional expertise to gain access to the files.

Power Surge Damage

Electronic components are only capable of surviving voltage and current levels within certain tolerances. A power surge can lead to a situation where these levels are exceeded, which can cause damage resulting in a failure of the component.

Any single power surge may not necessarily result in an instant failure, but as with damage caused by excessive temperatures, it is cumulative. The most common component to fail is the power regulator, but any other can be damaged. A failure of the firmware chip or maintenance area would make the process of data recovery much more complicated.

Controller Board Rebuild

In some cases it is possible to repair the damaged component or components, which allows the data recovery engineers to secure a sector-by-sector image of the hard disk drive. If the damage is severe, it will require a donor drive to be used, the controller board from which allows an image to be secured.

This is a process which should only be undertaken by a qualified data recovery engineer using specialist knowledge and equipment. Any attempt by a home user at replacing components or using a donor board risk causing further damage which was not present when the drive failed.

Power Surge Data Recovery and Protection

Our success for recovering files from hard disks which have failed due a power surge are very high, providing no risks have been taken which may have caused damage through do-it-yourself data recovery attempts. If the drive was operational at the time the power surge occurred it is possible for there to be some data which was not committed to disk, any such damage is usually very small, often only causing damage to temporary files.

Surge protectors typically are cheap to buy, but not all are good at eliminating the issue from affecting your computer. A more expensive option, but one which should provide fullest protection is to install an uninterruptible power supply (UPS) which will also allow the computer to undertake a controlled shutdown in the event of a power outage. It is important that any UPS is regularly tested, as a non-working UPS may be as bad as having no protection at all.

Failed (SSD) Solid State Device

Once the price of SSD drives made them a viable choice, their popularity has increased at a fast pace. They provide a major boost in data transfer speed, use less power, combined with a perceived durability advantage over spinning hard disk drives. It is true that they are almost immune to impact damage apart from the severest knocks.

It is recommended that an SSD is only used for the operating system and program files. This is because when an SSD does fail, data recovery is a much more complex procedure, with a lower chance of success. However, if the user areas and desktop contents located on the boot volume are used to store files, as is quite common, important data may be present on the SSD.

SSD Read and Write Limitations

Each storage bit in solid state memory is liable to become damaged after a certain number of read/write accesses. In most cases this is not an issue, as this is not only a high number, but the drive performs automatic balancing to enhance the lifetime of the device. An SSD will under normal remain fully operational for the duration of computer’s life.

Some applications however can cause excessive random data access, such as some video manipulation programs, leading to a rapid increase in memory access, thereby considerably reducing the lifespan of the SDD.

Other SSD Failure Mechanisms

As with any electronic device containing sensitive components SSD’s are susceptible to damage from heat and power surges. Either of these problems may cause damage to any of the electronic components. A power surge is most likely to cause a failure of the power regulator, whereas heat causes a slow build-up of damage, which will eventually become apparent when a fault occurs.

A sudden power failure besides causing a possible power surge, may lead to another side-effect on certain SSD devices. Ideally during the last moments of power an SSD should commit all outstanding memory changes. In some devices this may not occur and could lead to corruption of data, which could lead to a failure of the file system.

SSD Data Recovery

In the event of a severe SSD failure data recovery must be undertaken for a professional data recovery company using the correct procedure and specialist electronic hardware. It may be necessary to directly recover the raw data from each memory chip in the SSD as the first process during data recovery.

Each SSD manufacturer tends to use their own proprietary storage format and data interleaving techniques which are still subject to change as new devices are developed. New techniques quite often need to be developed in-house to handle the most recent changes in SSD technology.

Computer Will Not Boot

The reason for a computer not to boot can be due to a large number of different problems. These could be hardware related, or due to corruption of the data used to boot the host operating system. Such problems range from simple issues, right through to complex problems which could risk the integrity of your data.

If data recovery is required, it is important that if problem is the result of a hard disk drive problem, that repeated attempts to boot the system are not made. Some issues such as a clicking drive can cause additional damage on each attempt to boot the machine, making successful hard drive data recovery more problematic.

The Point Of Failure Is Important

It is necessary to determine the point of failure as quickly as possible, to avoid causing further damage, if the problem is caused by a serious hardware fault. The hard drive not recognised by the computer has already been covered.

If the drive is recognised, but does not proceed further, or the message “operating system not found” is displayed, this indicates a hard disk drive issue. If the hard drive makes clicking noises, power the drive down and seek professional data recovery assistance immediately. If this is not the case, it indicates that important data structures at the front of the disk have become corrupt; this also requires data recovery.

Computer Hangs While Booting OS

If the operating system begins to boot, but hangs during the process, this indicates a problem has occurred while the file system is being accessed. This can be due to hardware failure, where the requested sector is unreadable, or logical corruption of the file system.

In either case, repeated attempts to boot the operating system are unlikely to succeed, and in the case of hard drive issues, will potentially make the problem worse. The correct decision at this point is critical, and should be done without panicking, as the future access to your data relies on it.

Repair or Data Recovery?

In almost all situations, hard drive data recovery is the correct course of action. Should you think that it is a computer hardware issue, reading our document about computer repair may help you decide how best to proceed.

If the computer system is relatively old, it is also worth considering whether repairing the hardware makes economic sense, compared to buying a new machine, and having a hard drive data recovery performed to recover your important data files. Also repairing the hardware, does not guarantee that data recovery will not be required anyway.