Virus/Malware/Spyware on Computer

Even before the internet was established, the problem of computer viruses was a big issue, with distribution generally via infected diskettes. Since the internet, the problem has increased to the extent that the first software most users install is a security suite, but this does not guarantee that you will be safe. A virus is self-replicating and will hook itself onto files and executables, although the term is now being superseded by the word malware (malicious software).

Malware and spyware are insidious forms of software which can be installed on your machine, with malicious intent, to either steal confidential information, such as passwords and credit card data, or hi-jack your browser, or even disable your anti-virus. We commonly see malware and spyware on hard drives which arrive for data recovery, although these are not always the reason for the data recovery being required.

You Data and Information are at Risk

There are many types of malware, some are fairly harmless but irritating, but a large number are extremely malicious, causing file content to be rewritten, or the important system structures to be overwritten on your hard drive. It is therefore important to detect if your system has been compromised, otherwise your data may be systematically destroyed if the virus has a payload which overwrites file contents.

Spyware is software which attempts to steal important information, in particular on-line transactions, including usernames, password and credit-card details. There are some forms of malware called ransomware, reporting a supposed legal transgression which forces you to pay a fee on-line in order to continue using your computer. Scareware claims an intrusion or problem has been detected on your computer, attempting to scare you into downloading and buying some software which purports fix the problem.

Removing Virus, Malware etc.

Assuming you haven’t fallen into the traps which can occur, you will want to remove the malicious software. This is not always easy, especially if it has hi-jacked your security software, or internet browser, whereby the pages you visit are not from the authentic website.

There are numerous programs for removing different malware and spyware, which very often require a combination of applications to remove them. This process can be lengthy, and is not even guaranteed to succeed, meaning that if you have a destructive malware program installed, the integrity of you data may be further compromised. The sure, but very drastic method is to reinstall the operating system, but in many cases, this is the faster and safer method. The most important step though, is to secure your important data, for which data recovery could be your best option.

Data Recovery Implications

The implications of malware on data recovery can range from almost no impact, through damaged files, to severe corruption of the file system. We have received many hard drives for data recovery, where the partition table, or file system structures have been overwritten. This requires specialist knowledge of the data structures, which have to be replicated in the virtual volume created during the data recovery process. As long as the data files have not been damaged, the results of data recovery from a malware damaged drive are generally excellent.

Flood or Water Damaged Computer

There are many reasons your computer may suffer water or fluid damage. This can range from flooding, burst pipes, overflowing water tanks, or even the accidental spillage of liquid from a container knocked over the computer, to suggest a few scenarios.

If the hard disk drive gets wet, it is important that you take the correct steps, to avoid doing irreparable damage to the data stored on the drive. By following the steps below, you enhance the chances of a successful data recovery from a water damaged hard drive.

Do NOT Power the Computer Up

If water has infiltrated your hard disk drive, it is important not to power your computer up, even if you have dried all the components. Water will remain inside the drive, and affect the operation of all the components inside, and if it does start to spin up and move the read/write heads, it may lead to damage to the surface of the platters. The read/write heads can become stuck to the platters, with the water and any contaminants acting like glue.

Water is also a conductor, and even if you believe you’ve dried it all up, it may still cause a short circuit, which can lead to components being damaged, and in serious cases, even blowing up, sometimes with a violent explosion. The water can also leave contaminants behind, which may also cause problems to the electronics.

Do NOT Dry Out Your Hard Disk Drive

This may seem counter-intuitive, but once a hard disk drive has become wet, it is advisable not to allow it to dry out. The water that has entered the drive will almost certainly contain contaminants which, if allowed to dry will form a residue on the platters, which can have a corrosive effect caused by oxidation.

If any residue is allowed to dry in situ, even if it does not cause corrosion, may be very difficult to remove later without causing damage to the surface of the platters. Any debris must be removed before any data recovery can be attempted, as it would otherwise impact with the read/write heads leading to severe crash damage.

Keep Your Hard Disk Drive Wet

Ideally the hard disk drive should be placed into a sealed container to keep it wet. This stops the components of the hard disk drive corroding, and once received at the data recovery laboratory, the correct cleaning procedures can be undertaken, to minimise the damage to the surface of the platters.

Water Damage Data Recovery

By following the steps above, you give us the best chance of a successful data recovery from your hard disk drive. Our data recovery specialists have been trained to follow the best procedures for cleaning you hard drive, prior to attempting to read the data from it.

These guidelines still hold true for any SSD, unless they are explicitly designed to be rugged and waterproof. Even for a waterproof SSD, it is important that the connectors and the computer it is connected to are properly cleaned and dried. Failure to do so could result in damage to the SSD drive.