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You have one less way to recover your data – and you probably didn’t realize it

BE AWARE that today’s laptop and mobile devices have one less recovery option than they used to. 

This particular customer service announcement is targeted mostly at business executives and the IT professionals who support them.

  -  Those folks presume that device theft never happens and that they are too responsible to ever leave their device leaving around or at a TSA checkpoint.

  -  Those folks ignore the reality that they are custodians of their company’s data, and that it isn’t exclusively IT’s ‘problem’ to back it up without hindering them.

And here is the ugly one …

  -  Those folks presume that in the very rare chance their laptop breaks (since it wouldn’t be lost or stolen), IT will be able to go through the heroics of at least getting their very valuable data off of the hard drive. 

The data may not have been valuable enough to spend 5 minutes a day with a slightly slower Internet connection for synchronization.  But the data (and the important person’s time) will be valuable enough to spend between $1,000 and $2,500 for a drive forensics company to do a block-by-block scrub of the hard drive and get most of the data recovered.  OK, so I have been a little melodramatic – and there are very legitimate reasons for those data recovery jedi master wizards of block-restore, including not only executives’ business documents but also family photos that are even more irreplaceable. 

Here is the bad news: as one of my @ESGLab colleagues recently pointed out to me, block-based data recovery methods don’t work on solid-state storage.

And while it is obvious once it is said out-loud, I hadn’t thought about it before – and perhaps you hadn’t either.  What does that mean?

The new ultra-thin laptop or tablet that you are enjoying?  The one that is so much lighter, probably faster and whose battery runs so much longer?  Yep – it has a solid-state or “flash” drive in it, and it is probably awesome.  But without the spinning platters, sectors and spindle of a traditional hard drive, there are no electromagnetic sectors to be forensically recovered.  All of those SSD 0’s and 1’s are either all there, because the hard drive is completely in-tact, or are all completely gone, because there ain’t no sectors to read.

The good news: You just saved up to $2,500 because you won’t be able to spend it with a drive recovery service.

The better news: There are lots, lots-of-lots, of cloud- and corporate-backup solutions that do a great job backing up your laptops and tablets without encumbering your unit or slowing down that fancy new machine.  Maybe you could take a few of those dollars that you just saved and sign up for one of them.

As always, thanks for reading.

[Originally posted on ESG’s Technical Optimist.com]

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