Remote Data Recovery – Make a Data Connection


Not only does secure Remote Data Recovery exist, but it is an excellent option to consider if you experience data loss in a corporate environment.

The next time you are in a data center (if you are not sitting in one right now that is) take a good, long look at your complex storage system. Now imagine that a server rack experiences multiple failures (server, drives, you name it…) causing a large percentage of the data managed and stored on that rack to be lost. What do you do to get that data recovered? Are you going to disassemble and pack the entire rack, server and drives in order to get that data recovered? Will you pay for an engineer to come onsite? Both are viable options.

Shipping everything is an option. Not only is packing the rack, server and drives time consuming, it is also expensive and adds time onto the recovery. It also can be risky sending everything off-site. What if it gets lost in shipping?

On-site data recovery is an excellent option if the data you lost is a part of a complex storage configuration or is too sensitive to leave its current location. In other words, if your issue is affecting a part of a large storage setup, or company security policies will not allow for another option, onsite recovery may be your only option.

As always, we like to offer our customers options, and Remote Data Recovery can be the easiest, least-costly and most efficient solution. Remote Data recovery is performed through a secure internet connection and can be completed in as little as an hour. No need for an onsite visit or shipping of devices.

If it wasn’t easy enough already, we just updated our software to make it even faster and more secure. Kroll Ontrack is constantly updating their services to improve our customer’s experience. Remote Data Recovery was just one of many, recent advancements in our technology. I encourage you to keep up on what’s new at Kroll Ontrack by finding us on Twitter, Linked In or Facebook. You can also check out our press releases here.

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Survey says… SQL table/row drops take too much time


We’ve increasingly heard from our customers that SQL table/row drops take too much time. A granular search and restoration tool, for all too common requests to restore individual Microsoft SQL table drops, would be a great time saver for a frequent ticket or task.

So, we’ve been doing our homework. Starting with the Professional Association for SQL Server (PASS), we conducted conversations with and surveyed hundreds of DBAs about their unmet needs with respect SQL. From there, we held live corporate DBA focus groups about the pain points DBAs face in their everyday use of SQL. And, a few weeks ago, I kicked off a poll to gather data from DBAs about the frequency and time associated with table restorations.

The results are in, and mirror the research that we’ve conducted thus far. Granular or table level restores are indeed a common occurrence in organizations. Thirty-nine percent of the more than70 DBAs surveyed report between one and five SQL restore requests a month, which are the result of dropped tables or missing row or column data. A further 20 percent cite more than 6 restore requests per month.

As we all know, database sizes vary dramatically by organization typically driven by industry segment and application. The survey went on to show that many organizations are struggling with restores from databases that are “larger” in size. Forty-seven percent note the size of the typical SQL Server database they are restoring is 11GB – 200GB. But, a further 28 percent cite 201GB – 999GB is the typical database size and eight percent report a SQL database of more than 1TB.

The frequency of restore requests combined with size of the database make SQL table restore requests a time-consuming task, which often results in dozens of hours of your time as well as organization downtime. When asked how long it typically takes to restore a table from your SQL Server database, 52 percent report more than an hour.

So, the task before us is to find a better way—todramatically reduce the time it takes to find the backup with the table you want to restore and restore it to the desired environment.The answer is coming.If you are interested in seeing a demonstration of the prototype solution, please provide your name, title, company and email address as a comment.

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Why Ontrack EasyRecovery Made


There’s a seemingly never-ending collection of data recovery products out there that all serve their respective purposes, but it can be a little daunting to sift through the options and pinpoint which recovery software is right for most users’ needs.

Fortunately, TopTenReviews has done all the heavy lifting and found the perfect data recovery solution that’s both easy to use and allows you to customize the user experience to suit specific needs.

Ontrack EasyRecovery is the definition of “DIY.” Not only is it unbelievably easy to use, but Ontrack has a push-button functionality that allows novices to pick it up in a flash, without making advanced-level users feel patronized.

Here is a deeper look into the features that make Ontrack EasyRecovery such a fantastic piece of software:

An Unmatched User Experience

Ontrack allows you to do almost everything, easily. Whether it’s retrieving files from nearly every medium — including CDs and flash drives — or restoring photos and videos from media cards, Ontrack makes it simple to do. Ontrack also has the power to recover lost hard drive partitions, items deleted from your desktops recycle bin, and even drives that have been accidentally formatted.

All of which and more are obtainable without having to go through the trouble of reading lengthy manuals or participating in dozens of time-consuming tutorials.

Ontrack EasyRecovery gives you the control by allowing you to locate whatever went missing on your desktop with astounding precision. Narrowing the search is simple with a combination of drop-down menus and detailed search criteria that help you drill down to exactly the thing you are trying to locate.

You can search directories as large as full-fledged drives all the way down to the smallest folders and files. Custom searches can be created and also saved for future use. The best feature about Ontrack EasyRecovery is its ability to designate “bad block ranges”– essentially sections of disk storage that cannot save data — that are automatically skimmed over during searches. This saves you time and grief when doing full-system scans or long-term scans.

Ontrack EasyRecovery offers users a fail-safe system that prevents the accidental loss of any important data stored on your desktop. This backup service helps to monitor any potential data loss risks and prevent them from occurring. There’s also the ability to delete any files on a scheduled basis.

Advanced Features for Advanced Users

Features like network recovery services and RAID — a multi-drive error prevention system — are available to both Professional and Enterprise-level users. Upgrading to these levels from the Home version is quick and easy.

Supportive Customer and Technical Services

Ontrack’s customer and technical support services are second to none. Its web services are easily accessible and professionally organized. Customer service professionals are also on standby to help troubleshoot any issues a user may have.

Although Ontrack EasyRecovery add-ons like disk imaging and RAID cost a few extra dollars, users should consider the software, especially since similar products require an upgrade to access similar, advanced features.

Ontrack’s level of value combined with its overall ease of use and leading customer service options makes Ontrack EasyRecovery one of the best data recovery software for both first-time users and long-time professionals who have ever had the displeasure of experiencing data loss across file types and data mediums.

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Another dropped table? SQL DBA to the rescue!


Anyone in an IT role has two kinds of work days. Good days are defined by no one bothering them and they get to work on the strategic business initiatives they’ve been assigned to enhance the functioning of their business. Bad days are plagued with a long list of interruptions in the form of “tickets” or requests from development, legal or other departments that urgently require your genius to get them back up and running. Every good Database Administrator (DBA) has far more bad days than good because SQL table/row restores are a weekly, if not daily occurrence.

Why does this happen? The reasons are countless… The finance team started using the wrong currency or conversion rate on a report at some point and needs to get it corrected. A developer deleted a table. During a routine update of the business system, an admin deleted rows they thought weren’t important – turns out they were used by many other tables and caused the system to fail. The list goes on and on.

Once a problem is identified, you are called to resolve the issue. I bet your approach goes a little something like this… First, you determine when in time the data was good. Next, you find a backup that contains the database with the table(s) with the “good” data. The full database will need to be restored. This process requires finding a SQL server and sufficient storage space. Restoring a database can take many minutes, but you know all too well that this often takes an hour or many hours depending on the size of the database. The process requires frequent monitoring and you cost a lot per hour! After the database has been restored, you examine it to determine if the desired table is present. If not, you continue restoring databases until the table is found right? Once the desired table has been found, you copy it to the production environment using scripts. And when a critical revenue application is down, all of this is happening with the CIO standing behind you looking over your shoulder.

Are you tired yet? I am. We are interested in learning more about how often this happens to you. Share your experience by taking this short poll:

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Accidental Deletion


It’s the normal part of everyday life in a technologically driven world.  People lose things. Not just tangible items likes phones or tablets, but also the non-physical items, such as email, that contain all the attachments, notes and contacts we rely on every day. Accidental deletion happens.  We hear stories like this one all the time.

In a recent survey we conducted, 61 percent of the nearly 200 Ontrack® PowerControls™ customers surveyed across North America, EMEA and APAC reported they receive up to five restoration requests a month, with an additional 11 percent claiming up to 10 times a month. That adds up to thousands of dollars of time companies and administrators are losing over a given year.

“The time it takes to search, identify, copy, restore and export data from Microsoft Exchange or SharePoint platforms can be significant, especially if IT admins are executing the task by restoring a full database backup,” said Tom McCaffrey, product director of enterprise solutions, Kroll Ontrack.

And if you’re an IT administrator, you know that email restoration requests are just the tip of the iceberg. Our survey also found that in the U.S., the second most common data restoration need was collection of electronic data for ediscovery (21 percent), followed by consolidating data from older to new applications to eliminate legacy servers (15 percent).

But there is a silver lining in all of this. Forty-one percent of those surveyed report Ontrack PowerControls helps them address collection, restoration and consolidation requests in approximately half the time as compared to other methods, such as full backup or brick-level backup restores.

That’s a result we can all be happy about.

So tell us how Ontrack PowerControls saves you time or your “best-worst” email restoration story. We’d love to hear from you.




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Wearable Technology

From Head to Toe1

With the emergence of wearable technology, life could get pretty interesting over the next 10 years. Could you imagine having the ability to charge your smartphone just by taking a little walk around the office? Maybe you wouldn’t even need a smartphone, how about a watch that replaces it? Very James Bond! These are concepts that are already in development and not that far away from mainstream production.

Let’s go a little deeper, under your skin that is. How about a computer chip in your hand that unlocks your PC or pays for your groceries? Say a happy “Good-Bye” to remembering passwords or worrying about your credit card getting stolen! Some individuals are already experimenting with this concept, but there are serious physical risks involved.

Looking even deeper, researchers are starting the process of writing data to DNA. As of right now, they are not writing the data to an actual human’s DNA. The short overview of the process is that they translate the data into the DNA chemical sequence and then send it to a company who creates custom DNA with that sequence. Will we be performing data recoveries from humans in the future? Maybe…maybe not. As of right now, the process of storing data to DNA is very expensive, time-consuming and requires an extraordinary amount of knowledge to accomplish it.

The concept of wearable technology (not including data storage via DNA), alleviates some stress in today’s world, but new stresses will be added. What will wearable technology do to a work place? Many companies now have a BYOD policy in place. Does that include Google Glass? Will they allow email to be received on your smart watch? How will they secure that information?

To the individual, the emergence of these technologies should make life easier, right? Businesses will learn to adjust through a series of trial and errors just like they did for the desktop computer, laptops, tablets and smart phones. What are your feelings on wearable technology? Cool? Scary? Will we become the dreaded Borg race? Let us know.

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Flooded Data


It’s July, and here in Minnesota we are just starting to see the water from our over-saturated June recede. Many people this year have been affected by the rising rivers and lakes across the US. For some it might be the inconvenience of closed roads, but for others their homes have been invaded by water.  Our hearts go out to those who have lost their homes, farmland and businesses this Spring.

Unfortunately, with water damage from flooding we also hear of people who have lost their data. Obviously, I work for a data recovery company, but I am not here to deliver a sales pitch. Kroll Ontrack has some helpful tips to increase your odds for a successful recovery. Things you should do before you decide on a data recovery company.

Here is our first aid manual for flooded data:

  1. Flooded media should not be connected to power under any circumstances. This could result in burning the disc and complicating, if not completely disabling recovery efforts.
  2. Do not use DIY recovery software. Recovery software should only be used on fully-functional media.
  3. Do not attempt to dry or clean the media.
  4. Wrap the media in a wet towel or seal it in a plastic bag with a wet sponge. Once media is dry, corrosion starts.
  5. Timing is crucial. Find a reputable data recovery company. If you don’t know what to look for we offer some tips below.

Questions to ask when selecting a data recovery company for flooded media:

  1.  Can the data recovery company recover from your type of media and operating system?
  2. How long has the provider been in the data recovery business?
    1. Experience is key when recovering from flooded media. You may only get one attempt at recovering the data.
  3. Does the provider have a local presence? Will your media be sent to any other location to complete the recovery?
    1. This could increase cost and lengthen the amount of time a recovery takes.
  4. Do they have a cleanroom laboratory environment for performing the data recovery?
    1. This is required for any water-damaged media.
  5. Does the provider offer a variety of service options and levels?
    1. Service options should vary based on your time-requirements and budget.
  6. What is their standard turn-time?
  7. What type of support is offered during the recovery? Will you receive updates? Is there a self-service website where you can check on your media at any time?
  8. Do they provide pre- and post-recovery support?
    1. Will they walk you through re-installing your media once it has been returned to you?
  9. What security procedures do they use?
    1. Physical security of the media.
    2. Security of the data itself while at their facility.
    3. Do they return the data in an encrypted format?
  10. Will the provider give you a listing/report of all recoverable files before you make a purchase decision? Is this included in their evaluation service?

I understand that losing your data is a stressful event by itself. When you are dealing with a disaster on top of it, it is so much worse. I hope these tips help ease the process of your data recovery no matter which company you choose.

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SSD Market – The Gathering


There can be only one! Ok, so the SSD market certainly will not consolidate to one company, but we are seeing a lot of movement.  One company acquiring the next in order to gain all of their wisdom and power.  Hopefully, not using the same methods as Connor MacLeod did in the Highlander films. This is not the first time consolidation has happened in the storage device market. We’ve seen similar consolidation through the years in the HDD market.   In 1994 the HDD market had 10 manufacturers; by 2012 they were down to 3 major players. At the beginning of these 18 years of positioning and consolidation, there was plenty of market share to go around and acquiring a business with even 10% of the market share is no small feat.

Graphic Source: Chris Ritter,

Hard Drive Manufacturers

When looking at the SSD market today, there are several larger players and still many smaller players, and even some still entering the market, each trying to position themselves for growth and increased market share.  There is a good reasoning to why. SSD’s in comparison to HDD’s are still in their infancy. There are also such a variety of newer devices and market segments evolving such as the cloud, mobile devices, traditional enterprise data center storage and desktop/laptops (much of which is SSD or flash based storage). Mature companies as well as startups are identifying user’s diverse needs and wants and adding their own niche’ or innovation to SSD based products and releasing them to the market. With so many in the SSD market today, what does the market share look like?

SSD Manufacturers

On June 10th, Gartner released the “Market Share Analysis: SSDs and Solid State Arrays, Worldwide 2013.” The chart below taken from this report outlines the movement in the SSD market from 2012 to 2013. The top 3 in the market in 2013, Samsung, Intel and SanDisk share just under 53% of the market share. From there the market share drops dramatically ending with an “Others” category which only makes up 10% of the market share.  I think it is safe to assume that if a company with a smaller piece of the pie has a unique, innovative solution for SSD’s, it is eventually going to get acquired by one of the top companies.

Total SSD Market
Total SSD Market

SanDisk recently did just that when they acquired Fusion-io for $1.1 Billion. SanDisk who has been working to sell into companies worldwide will use Fusion-io’s PCIe solutions to create enterprise-class SSDs for data centers. Overall, this absorption of technical advancement should create a superior product for SanDisk and continue their penetration into data centers. I know we often have fond memories of certain companies and may be a little saddened to see them acquired by a larger entity, but in the end those acquisitions may benefit us. All of the articles that I have read on the SanDisk/Fusion-io acquisition all talk about why this is good for the two companies involved.  Let’s take a look on what these types of acquisitions can do for the consumer. Hopefully, when one company acquires another it is not just for the sake of eliminating the weak. Most often in the tech industry there is a certain technical benefit to those acquisitions. In SanDisk’s case, it is the PCIe solution. Those technical benefits combined with the larger companies established product, and sales channel, should evolve into a superior product for the consumer. In the SSD market, as we see smaller companies absorbed by the larger ones, better SSDs should enter the market. In most cases, it is easier and faster for companies to merge an existing technology with their own than to develop it from scratch, so these new solutions should be quick to market. From a data recovery perspective, these acquisitions should result in more capabilities and less time required to recover mission critical data from a dysfunctional SSD. As companies and technologies consolidate, there will be more standards and similarities created in how underlying data is written to an SSD. Instead of dozens or hundreds of unique proprietary methods companies are using to write data to SSDs, such as different methods of implementing wear leveling, data scrambling, encryption, ECC, and the likes, as companies consolidate, so will the various technologies used, similarly to what has occurred in the HDD industry. This equates to less research time our engineering teams will need to  discover the writing method and the faster return of the data to you, resulting in less cost to the end users. How long will it take for the SSD market to consolidate and stabilize? I don’t have the answer to that, but would like to hear your guess in our comments section.

P.S. For those of you who need a little reminder on Highlander, here’s a flashback for you


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Data Loss Happens


Digital data is an absolute mainstay in our society. From irreplaceable family pictures and videos to financial documents, many of us maintain a significant portion of our lives digitally. In the business world, it has been that way for more than a decade but it is now becoming more common to see “paperless” households. We sign up for paperless billing and receive email confirmations for appointments; when was the last time you received a hand written letter? There is a definite nostalgia in receiving a letter from a faraway friend or former colleague because it shows they took the time to put their thoughts on paper, find a stamp, and put in in the mailbox, but let’s be honest, how often does that happen these days? Now it is a few flicks of your finger to send a text or firing up your email to send off a quick note. I will save my comments for the effect this may have on our society for another time <grin> but the reality is that we are far more efficient in both time and effort by relying on digital data.

All that data needs a home though and for that, we turn to various forms of storage. Most common of those forms is the hard disk drive. We see flash drives and solid state drives growing in their market share but the vast majority of today’s data is still stored on hard disk drives that spin at absurd speeds of up to 7200 RPM. To put that into perspective, the little CD-looking things inside your hard drive (the platters) clear 120 rotations in one second. Combine the whirling speed of the drive, the fact that the heads which read the data hover over the platters at a distance so minuscule that it is nearly undetectable to the human eye, and the hundreds of tiny mechanical and electronic parts that make up the rest of the drive, it is truly a matter of when, not if, your hard drive will fail. Think of it as a car, if you were to drive your car without an oil change or any maintenance whatsoever for say three to five years (most HDD manufactures’ recommended life span for their drives) you would not expect it to survive. The same is true for hard drives. They have moving parts. Those parts eventually fail due to wear.

In a recent survey we conducted at Kroll Ontrack, we found that “66 percent (compared to 29 percent in 2010) of 1,066 surveyed customers cited a hardware crash or failure”. It happens. Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but it will eventually fail. Solid state drives have the reputation of being a bit more stable but are by no means failsafe. The same survey revealed that of the 50,000 recoveries Kroll Ontrack performs annually Solid state drives and flash devices account for 15 percent of our recoveries with RAID/Virtual infrastructures making up 13 percent. If you take into account the number of hard drives in the market vs. the number of SSDs, 15 percent is significant. This illustrates that data loss affects every type of storage from the consumer grade up to the enterprise level and the impact is great.

The moral of this story is not to scare you away from a digital lifestyle. It is simply this: If you have something important saved on your desktop, laptop, thumb-drive, SSD, HDD, home network, Enterprise server (and the list goes on…) BACK IT UP!

If you have priceless photos of your kid’s 2nd birthday party with the relatives from out of state –BACK IT UP!

If you have your master’s thesis on your laptop, your companies quicken files on the file server, your CAD drawings on your workstation, a presentation and proposal for your biggest client on a thumb-drive, or your wedding video on a DVD, BACK IT UP!

I think you get the point here but like with many things in life, it may be easier said than done. A good plan always helps so here are some points to consider when making your backup plan.

  • Prioritize: As a general rule, if you cannot live without it, back it up immediately. If it is “nice to have” data or pictures, set up a scheduled reminder to do a larger backup weekly or monthly. There are a lot of apps and programs that can help with this but they are only as good as you make them.
  • Determine how long to keep your data: After you identify the data that is worth maintaining, then identify how long you need to maintain it. This may be “forever” with personal data but there are rules and regulations with most corporate and business data that only require that you maintain archives for established time periods.
  • Do some research: Use your favorite search engine to do some research on what types of products best fit your environment, operating system, types of data (documents and spreadsheets are much smaller files than photo, video, and audio files so that will likely impact your backup strategy), and time constraints.
  • Verify your backups: One issue that we see frequently is that backups are in place but no one checks them to verify the correct data is being backed up and that it is in a useable state (i.e. not corrupted)

At Kroll Ontrack, we are consistently coming up with new techniques, software and utilities to help get your data back if you lose it but data loss can be mitigated in most cases by a good backup strategy. Hope this helps and please feel free to share your back-up strategy or tips in the comments section!

Click here to see our “Data Loss Happens” infographic in more detail.

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Securing Your Place in The Cloud

The Cloud

Are you in the Cloud? There are many benefits of cloud computing: accessibility to storing and retrieving data from anywhere at any time, easy replacement, reduced IT costs and the list goes on. If it is so wonderful, why isn’t everyone adopting it? Large companies are increasing their use of the cloud while small to medium businesses (SMBs) are hesitant.

SMBs could see a large benefit to adding the cloud to their mix.  Field sales reps would be able to access and store data from anywhere. Reduction in IT costs: less hardware required, less staff required to manage data storage and less IT training needed. All of this with predictable software license fees.

So…what’s the hold up? What the SMBs, and most others, know is that there are real risks involved when storing data to the cloud.  Even though we talk about “The Cloud” as if it is a magical place with an infinite amount of storage space where our data lives virtually dancing among unicorns and rainbows, the reality is that the data is still stored on hardware somewhere. “Where?” is the question. It is difficult to protect your data if you do not know where it is located. Also not knowing who has access to your data is also an issue. There is a risk of data being unintentionally exposed by providers, administrators and other cloud users. Being we are a data recovery company, we cannot forget the risk of data loss in the cloud. Yes, even alongside of unicorns and rainbows, data loss still happens in the cloud.

Could an SMB reduce the risks associated with storing data in the cloud? The answer is YES! With some fore-thought and planning before entering the cloud, risks can be reduced.  Also, a company can create an emergency plan just in case disaster strikes to efficiently deal with an issue and reduce the damage.

Choosing a Cloud Provider Wisely

Here is a list of questions to be asked when choosing a cloud provider.

Technical Questions:

  1. What is your company’s plan for dealing with data loss or the inaccessibility of data? Do you partner with a third-party data recovery provider or could we select our own?
  2. What type of data storage does your company use? (RAID, Hyper-V, VMware, etc.)
  3. Does your data center and do your employees have any certifications?
  4. What are your back-up protocols?
  5. What is in your service agreement about data recovery and liability for loss?
  6. Can the data, where appropriate, be shared among different cloud providers? Can it be easily transferred to a new provider if necessary?

Data Security Questions:

  1. What steps does the provider take in order to protect your data?
  2. If data is marked for deletion, is it permanently erased, including copies?
  3. What is your data encryption philosophy? How is the data encrypted and who manages the keys?
  4. Does the client retain ownership of the data when it is in the cloud?

Legal Issues to Consider:

  1. Does the back-up policy of the provider correspond to the back-up policies of your company?
  2. What is in the provider’s privacy agreement? What do they guarantee?
  3. Do you or your external data recovery company, extract data for legal disputes in a legally sound manner?
  4. Where exactly are your data stores?  Are they local to the US, or off-shore?

Finding the Right Data Recovery Company

Be sure to select a data recovery provider experienced with cloud recoveries.  Data lost in the cloud isn’t necessarily gone forever. We have seen many successful cloud recovery cases. The company you choose should have experience recovering from complex RAID, SAN, Virtual and cloud environments. In addition, they should be able to repair and restore corrupted files including emails, databases and office applications. Lastly, the data recovery company must have tools for the recovery of encrypted data and the ability to return it in an encrypted form.

I feel like an after-school special when I say, “Knowing is half the battle,” but the more you know about your cloud provider upfront, the easier it is to secure your data and recover it if need be.  Like with any new technology, testing is key. If you are hesitant, maybe trying just a sample of non-sensitive/non-business critical data first is the way to go.  Most companies are using the cloud as just one part of their data storage solution. Reaping some of the benefits and reducing some of their IT costs. So those pictures of unicorns and rainbows your employees are storing for a motivational pick-me-up, maybe those should be the first items sent to the cloud.

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