Continuously Creating Data On-the-Go


We live in a digital age where creating data has almost become second nature to the human race. Whether it’s Facebook, LinkedIn, or Twitter etc., the list is endless and vehicles to essentially digitize our social and personal lives continue to grow at a rapid pace. To me, mobility (smartphones and tablets) has been the biggest game changer in this space and the fact that I can take a few seconds out of my day to update my “status” makes it so easy to create data on the fly. The idea of creating data isn’t just restricted to social media and when you count the many apps made available to us via mobile platforms, you’ll quickly realize that information pertaining to photos, videos, text messages, e-mails, banking, movies and music are all making their way to your mobile device. The gist here is that we have become a mobile society where the notion of “everything on the go” isn’t just restricted as a slogan for a fast food restaurant. We now demand this very same mobility from our smart devices and I’ll be the first to admit, I’m a fan. I would much rather read and respond to an urgent late night email on my phone rather than boot my laptop up and go through the alternative process. We’ve all become entitled to the data driven age of mobility and it’s not going to slow down anytime soon.

Amidst the chaos and joy of this data creation, we tend to forget about the digital footprints left behind. Every bit (pun intended) of information we’re creating is carefully stored away with no intent of self-destructing (unless otherwise specified by the user). So where’s the problem? Well, for starters, you have to quantify your data and what it would do to you if that data were to ever get lost or worse, fall into the wrong hands. None of us quantify our data because frankly, we don’t know what that data means to us until it’s gone! Creating data, after all, has always been the easy part hasn’t it? Recently, Kroll Ontrack developed a Data Calculator, specifically aimed at helping customers score the emotional relevance of data to them. None of us do this today and I found the tool quite revealing about myself when I gave it a trial run. You can quantify your data in a number of ways but here’s one way to approach it…

  1. Multimedia – Comprises of your personal music collection, DVDs, Movies, Videos, and digital books
  2. Photos/Home Videos – Personal photo collection and Home Videos (Wedding, Kids, Holidays and special lifetime events)
  3. Office Documents – Emails, Contacts, and Office Documents
  4. Financial – Banks, Credit Card apps etc.

Now that you’ve quantified the value of your data, let’s focus on what it could mean if that data falls into the wrong hands. As data recovery continues to remind us, nothing is completely gone and even if you’re an exception to the rule and diligently wipe your phone or believe in the occasional factory restore option, I’m here to tell you that simply isn’t enough. Apple has a pretty cool way of remotely wiping your device in the event of a theft for example but data may still be recoverable. Simply deleting data from a smartphone or restoring factory settings is not enough, as data can still easily be recovered after these methods. In our business, it’s not uncommon to hear of scenarios where a user resells their mobile device only to realize that they have left traces of their personal data behind. Sometimes you get lucky and the new user does the right thing. Unfortunately, it always doesn’t have a fairytale ending. While the excitement of purchasing a new smart phone or tablet is unparalleled among us tech lovers, so should the passion for an effective “end of life” for such devices. If you don’t want personal information potentially falling into enemy hands, make sure you’re securely wiping it on a routine basis. If you want to sell your old phone, make sure you remove any potential traces of data so you can truly say that it is “unrecoverable.” I know, it takes time to go through the extra steps to permanently erase data and it is easier to do a factory reset. If you can quantify your data and measure the implications of that information in someone else’s hands, I’m willing to bet you’ll take those steps!

Recently, Kroll Ontrack announced a very exciting partnership with Blancco, a global leader in data erasure and computer reuse solutions. These guys provide erasure solutions for the military, defense, police, banking and IT asset reseller organizations around the world. What really sparked my interest though was a product they call Blancco Mobile which addresses the very issue I talk about. The solution is designed to erase your smartphone’s internal and external memory so user data such as emails, contacts and text messages are permanently erased. The process is fast and more importantly, comes with a detailed report of what was wiped and an audit trail. What does this tell me? That somewhere out there, folks clearly have a problem with effectively wiping their smart devices and Blancco is working on a solution to solve it. Candidly, I need to see more of this solution and you can bet that this product manager will have his share of feedback on where this product could go potentially. Where would you like to see it go?


Image: Pearce/


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Two Decades (or more) of Technology

Technology 20 Years later

Just 20 years ago, everything was about beanie babies, Tamagotchis and weird color combinations.  Flip phones and audio cassettes were the coolest things around.  Pay phones were at almost all of the places that people hung out at such as movie theaters and shopping malls.  Depending on how old you were at this time, you may have had all of these things.  If you were into electronics back then you may have had a computer, boombox, Walkman, Super Nintendo, camera, VCR or maybe even a portable CD player!  When you think about it, it is crazy what has happened with technology in the last twenty years. In 2014, most of these things are carried in your pocket on one small device. Smartphones now include most of these technologies right out of the box. You can take digital pictures, record video, play music, watch videos, play games and browse the internet among many other things on a tiny device that is smaller than the Walkman you may have used in the 90’s!

If all these things became one device over just 20 years, and that one device is about the size of an audio cassette, what will we see over the next 20 years?   What else would we really want to carry with us that we don’t have already?  Maybe we won’t be carrying anything in our pocket at all (afterall, they are working on storing data in DNA). Imagine the internet 20 years ago when you couldn’t Google the answer to almost any question you ever wanted to know the answer to.

There are some downsides to this consolidation however as we are becoming more and more reliant on technology and the data stored in those little devices. Could you imagine a day without your smartphone, or life without Google? If email or the internet goes down for a few minutes at the workplace, internal help desk’s phones will ring off the hook.  If a remote employee’s laptop or phone takes a fall or a swim they could be unable to work for days and lose crucial company data.  Thankfully, we have the ability to back up our data, and password protect and encrypt our mobile devices just in case they are lost or stolen.  Companies such as Kroll Ontrack are able to recover data from some of the worst possible situations as well.  We are already heading in the direction of carrying our laptop in our pockets with today’s tablets and accessories.  Even with the potential cons, bettering technology makes all of our lives easier and I for one am excited to see where the next 20 years brings us.  Where do you see technology going in the next 20 years?

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World Backup Day Needs a Hero Like You!

World backup Day

World Backup Day is just around the corner (March 31st) and I am left pondering why data backup is not a more common practice. For example, I recently purchased a new computer.

It had been a while since I perused websites for the latest and greatest but I made sure I investigated my options thoroughly and came to a decision on a shiny new laptop.

What I expected to happen when I arrived at my electronics chain store of choice was an onslaught offering of warranties, peripherals and extras.  The entire portfolio of what a big name store has to offer. To my surprise, this was only a very quick inquiry as to whether I wanted to extend my manufacturer’s warranty to cover damage and replacement. “No thanks” and off to the register we went.

Now, perhaps I’m a bit biased when I expected my sales person to at least ask how I planned to backup my shiny new laptop. Nope. Maybe inquire if I had even considered the option to hook up a new external drive to cover the potential 1 Terabyte of storage? Nope. I’m hoping this may have been the oversight of the individual and not the sales policy of said store.

Working for Kroll Ontrack, I know that data recovery isn’t a matter of if, but when. This known fact therefore presents an opportunity for retailers to not only upsell with a service and/or external backup option, but also to be the hero when the inevitable happens.

One repeating mantra that has been chanted in the storage world: “Backup! Backup! Backup!” It’s not a new concept but it still eludes many people, even in the industry which sells those solutions! World Backup Day was declared by Reddit users as an annual reminder for everyone.

In a Kroll Ontrack data loss survey, statistics indicate that 29 percent of data is lost as a result of hardware failure and 27 percent is due to human error. Other causes include software errors (7 percent), computer viruses (7 percent) and natural disasters such as floods or fires (3 percent).  There are many issues that contribute to data loss. Are you ready for them?

With World Backup Day approaching you can be your own ‘data hero.’ Make sure you practice the same advice to protect family photos, music and important data and backup, backup, backup!

Curious about what could be lost? Calculate your risk factor with our Data Calculator.

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Accessing Legacy Data from Microsoft Exchange and SharePoint Backups

data center

There you are, on the brink of technology.  You want to install and upgrade your environment to the latest and greatest version.  Or perhaps you have already upgraded and now you’re trying to figure out how to restore the legacy data.  In either case, knowing how to do it is the Holy Grail.

Most of what you have to do is dictated by your data retention policy.  If you are fortunate enough to have one, you would immediately know how long you will have to provide retention.  If you don’t have one, the time is now.  Meet with your departmental owners and legal to determine your regulatory responsibilities.

The Native Method

Whether you’re changing your backup provider or leap-frogging to the latest Microsoft platform, the challenge is the same.  For changes in backup, you will most likely have to allow the systems to coexist, allowing you to perform restores of these critical business systems.  Likewise, if the changes are in the version of Exchange or SharePoint, you will need to restore to the appropriate versions.  If native methods are your game plan, try virtualizing rather than leaving the physical systems around for these restorations.  The benefit in virtualizing these systems would be pure physical space, but also convenience when you need to perform the restore.  In the end, the systems only need to be around long enough to satisfy your data retention policy.

Using a Service Provider

If you are leaping into new backup, email, or collaboration technology and have no interest in restoring the data yourself, do your research first.  Many service providers in the market today make sure the provider can actually do what they say they can.  Engage in an RFP process and include a sample restore.  Narrow your choices based on these results and formulate a preferred partnership.  In most cases these partnerships guarantee you the best pricing and turnaround time.  While you can offload the restore in the event you need it, choose wisely.  As our parents once said, you do get what you pay for.

Software Based Solutions

While there are few options in this category, it still remains a valid option.  Certain software providers can read Exchange and SharePoint backups directly from disk or tape.  The benefit here is simple.  By reading the backups without requiring the backup software, you can decommission the old backup servers and/or system servers.  The software solution will allow you to restore the data to alternate locations as flat files.  Once restored, you can then use the software to read these flat files and simply restore the granular pieces you need.  Here I recommend kicking the tires with a proof of concept before making a purchase.

While we have briefly discussed a few options on this topic, the take-away here is choose wisely.  Explore your options and ensure whatever you choose works for your company.  The last thing anyone needs is to be looking for a solution after the fact.

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Tape Archiving for Cold Storage is more than just hitting “Save”

cold storage 1

Choosing to tape archiving for long term, rarely accessed company data (aka “Cold Storage”), means more than simply hitting save and storing it in a secure facility. We see companies on a daily basis who could either not access their data or who have tapes that are long past their disposal date. The following tips could have saved them time, money and headaches.

When I think about tape archiving for cold storage, it reminds me of my deep freezer at home, and not just for obvious reasons.  My family purchases our beef a quarter cow at a time. We rely on the butcher to label it and then we pack it in our freezer until it is needed again in the future. I will pull packages out one or two at a time when required. There are cuts of meat that I have no idea what to do with (aka liver) which tend to sit idle. About every six months we clean out the freezer, granted, sometimes it is a little longer depending on how busy we are. At cleanout time, we have to go through each package to determine what packages are good, bad and, for some, identify what it is. Tape storage can be painstakingly the same way if precautions are not taken up front.

Tape Archives Outlast Hardware

Tape is an excellent method of archiving if you need to retain the information for cold storage. Much like the deep freeze does for food, tape preserves data for a longer period of time than most of its modern competitors. So long in fact, that the hardware used to store the data can become end of life before the tape reaches the disposal date. Much like the liver in my freezer, those tapes will sit idle because companies don’t quite know what to do with them until they are forced to come up with a solution. For example, an audit of a bank required the submission of 35,000 booking records dating back to the 1980’s. This bank in particular took archiving its data very seriously and kept everything archived on tape since tape was an option. Unfortunately, the appropriate hardware and software to read those tapes were no longer available.

In another company, an internal audit ordered the restoration of all Lotus Notes mailboxes from an AS/400 system. The company no longer had the hardware used at that time and did not have a way to read the tapes.

Fortunately, in both instances, the archived data could be recovered in the laboratory at Kroll Ontrack and migrated to newer media formats. Maybe, I should hire a professional to show me how to properly cook liver in a way where I would eat it…or Google it…or just be happy with the fact that I don’t like it.

Classify Your Data

Migrating to current formats isn’t the only challenge of tape archiving for cold storage. Classifying the data before it is archived also poses its challenges. As I rely on a butcher to label my packages before putting them in the freezer, I am also relying on his/her accuracy. If the writing is illegible or if something is incorrectly marked, I could end up thawing steak instead of ribs which have two entirely different methods for cooking. Media that is mislabeled could result in lost data or data that is disposed of before it’s time is up. Even the most carefully planned system can have failure points after a long period of time. IT managers who blindly rely on the archiving system risk losing business-critical data. To avoid data loss, responsible staff should check the archive system’s copied data, at least randomly, for readability. For me, it is just crossing my fingers that the package is indeed what it says it is.

Secure Disposal

On every package of food, there is an expiration date. Luckily for me, I can just toss the liver in the garbage the when the expiration date has passed.  When backup tapes reach their disposal date, it is not that simple. The data on a backup tape needs to be sanitized before the tape can be disposed of to ensure sensitive data does not fall into the wrong hands. The best way to securely erase data is to demagnetize the storage media with use of a degausser. In this method, the degausser produces an extremely strong electromagnetic field and thus all magnetic structures are destroyed on the tape. This is the only way to guarantee the data on the tape is irrevocably destroyed.

It is clear that safe and reliable tape archiving for cold storage involves more than just hitting “save”. Managers must always take into account hardware end of life, classification, retention periods and proper disposal.  Taking the time upfront to define processes and policies will save you headaches down the road. I need to apply some of these tape archiving tips for my cold storage at home.


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Cell Phone with Camera or Camera with Phone?

camera phone[1]

Does your camera make phone calls? How many megapixels is your cell phone? Doesn’t makes sense does it?

With the increasing popularity of built in cameras with our cell phones today, it’s no longer a question as to whether you’ll use it at all but how often you’ll use it. It seems as though there is as much emphasis on the cameras in the phones today as there is memory, battery length and amount of apps we can store. I recently saw a TV commercial for a phone with a camera and the only thing they talked about were the features of the camera, nothing else.

I admit, when I started using a cell phone to actually make calls, I thumbed my nose to the cameras on them. I deemed them useless and a gadget rather than a useful tool. I’m a part time professional photographer who has been investing in and upgrading digital SLR’s since they were invented. Why would I even consider using my phone to take a photo? Granted, I have always preferred an alternative to taking my CompactFlash cards out of my cameras, hooking them to a card reader, saving them and editing them just to be ready to upload to sites like Facebook. This can take anywhere from 5 minutes to a half an hour. Now I’m doing it from my phone on a pretty regular basis and don’t regret it for one minute. I’ve seen the light (pun intended). My profile photo below was taken with my phone to post here and on Twitter. It took less than 4 minutes to have it ready and uploaded.

Statistics on the popular photo sharing site Flickr demonstrate how far behind I am in regards to what devices are being used to capture the majority of digital photos today. Flickr has the ability to track the type of camera used for every photo that is uploaded to their site via the embedded EXIF data usually saved when the photo is uploaded. They admit that sometimes it’s not an exact science but it’s reliable enough to show what devices are consistently being used the most. See where I’m going with this? To date, the top 4 ‘most popular cameras’ of Flickr users are the iPhone 4, 4S, 5 & 5S. Naturally, they also top the 4 out of 5 ‘most popular camera phones’ on the site with the Samsung III in 5th place.

Now, the question is, for those not uploading to sharing sites like Flickr, Facebook or Instagram, what happens to these images after they’ve been taken? Do you plug your phone in and save the photos on a regular basis? Do you just keep adding and adding to the gallery on your phone and forget about them? I regularly take my removable cards from my DSLR’s to empty and format them for continued use. I’m of the opinion that we, as phone photographers, don’t make enough of a habit of emptying our phones or saving those photos on a regular basis. Does this put them in jeopardy if we lose the phone or if it breaks? Sadly, that’s a resounding yes.

Do yourself a favor. Plug that phone in, make a copy of the photos to your computer or tablet. Keep them on your phone to use as a portable photo album if you like, but have at least 2 copies. Storage is cheap, memories are priceless.



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Ontrack EasyRecovery Tips

er11-home ed

When dealing with a data loss situation, it is typically a very stressful time.  Here are a few tips when using our data recovery software, Ontrack® EasyRecovery™, to ensure the best chance at recovering those deleted and lost files.  I’ll run through a couple of common scenarios and the typical options you will want to select in those scenarios.

Scenario 1 – “Oops I deleted the wrong file!”

This is a scenario we’ve all been in at some point or another.  In most of these cases, a data recovery software option will typically recover the file or files. However, the success of the recovery will depend on how much has been done on the computer since the deletion.  Ontrack EasyRecovery only needs a few things from you before it starts looking for those files.  On step 2, always select the volume if you see it listed.  In Windows, this is going to be the option that has the drive letter in the front of it, “C:” for example.

Ontrack EasyRecovery step 2

On step 3, I typically suggest moving from left to right.  Explore volume is a great option to start with.  This option does not have any scan time so you can see if it finds your files without having to wait.  If you cannot find your files with explore volume, you would want to move to the deleted file recovery option.

Ontrack EasyRecovery step 3

This will typically not take long either, but it may take a few hours depending on the drive and how it is formatted.  And lastly if neither of those found it, your last option would be formatted media recovery.  If this option does not find your files either, the next step would be our in-lab services.

Scenario 2 – “Oops I formatted the wrong drive!”

Formatted Volume

This scenario is fairly common, but definitely less so than a deleted file.  The results of this particular scenario can vary due to the nature of what has been done and written back to the drive.  The same beginning applies from the previous scenario, select the volume if it is available in step 2.  On step 3, I still recommend starting with explore volume, just in case it is able to find your files.  However, if it doesn’t find them, the next step would be the formatted media recovery.  Typically with a formatted drive, a deleted file scan would not be of much help.  Again, if this doesn’t find your files the next step would be our in-lab services.

Scenario 3 – “My drive is saying it needs to be formatted and all my data is on it!”

Format Drive

This one is quite common also, and is typical with external drives.  Most of the time, this is going to point to some internal issue with the drive either electronic or mechanical and I would suggest our in-lab services.  If you try Ontrack EasyRecovery software I would suggest the same steps as a formatted drive.  If you see any messages about “bad blocks”, you will want to close the software, safely remove the drive and send it in to one of our labs for recovery.

Bad Blocks

Scenario 4 – “Oops I dropped my laptop/external drive!”
Dropped Laptop
With our current stages in technology, many people are now using external drives and laptops for the mobility they offer.  The downside to this is that they are much easier to drop than a desktop, unless you prefer to carry around a desktop tower with you.  If a drive or laptop does not work after dropping it, I do not suggest any software options as any use of the drive can actually cause more damage and may prevent even our engineers from a successful recovery.

Scenario 5 – “My situation doesn’t match any of the above, what do I do!?”
If you have any situations that don’t fit into the above categories, feel free to call our technical support experts at 1-800-872-2599, option 2.  They will be able to point you in the right direction and give you the best chance at recovering those precious files.


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5 of my Favorite Android Apps


With Valentine’s Day just recently passed, many of us probably used our phone at some point to speak to a loved one whether texting, calling, emailing or even video chatting.  Personally, I am probably on my smartphone nearly as much as my home computer.  With so many customization options and great apps out there, I wanted to turn this into a small conversation about great Android apps that I enjoy.  Here are five Android apps that I personally enjoy using and have made my life easier.

Home Replacement Apps –

With an Android phone, you have the ability to install a new home application.  With these types of Android apps, you are essentially giving yourself an entirely new experience.  Your home screen is considered everything from your desktop screens, icons and widgets, to your app dock and your app drawer.  Some of these apps enable you to theme your phone, use different icons for your apps, add new gestures, password protect apps and customize a large portion of the core of your phones navigation.  I have tried a few different options, and am currently using Apex Launcher (Play Store).  They offer a free version, as well as a pro version that offers more features as do most of the options listed below.  With more than 5,000,000 downloads and almost 70,000 reviews, it is a pretty popular app.  There are many options for home replacement on the Play Store, which you can find by simply searching for “Launcher” or “Home Replacement”.  A few of the popular choices are Apex Launcher, Nova Launcher (Play Store), Smart Launcher (Play Store) and GO Launcher EX (Play Store).

TeamViewer QuickSupport-

If you’re in IT, or even remotely experienced with technology, family and friends will typically ask for help or advice.  I have recently come across this app which works very well for these situations.  Many of you are probably familiar with TeamViewer, and this works hand in hand with their main desktop/laptop software.  The user that you want to help will install TeamViewer QuickSupport (Play Store) on their phone.  Once they have it installed, it will give them a nine digit number that you would enter into your desktop version of TeamViewer.  After you are connected, you can remotely control their device, change their settings and chat along with many other options.  It comes in very handy for supporting your aunt who lives across the country.  This app is also free.


Do you ever do the same thing at the same time every day on your phone?  Maybe you turn Bluetooth on at 7am every morning when you leave for work.  Tasker (Play Store) enables you to set certain criteria to perform tasks on your phone.  For example, you can set it to open your music player when you plug your headphones in, automatically change your brightness based on the time of day, turn off your wifi when you leave the house or automatically send a text if you miss a call.  There is a lot of potential here for saving battery life or making your life easier.  This is a paid app, but there is a free trial.

Backup Programs-

There are quite a few Android apps available for backing up your phone’s data, which can come in handy if your device decides to take an unannounced swim.  Google has their own app that can back up your picture and video files to your Google+ (Play Store) account automatically, in a private album that only you can see.  As pictures and videos are typically a user’s most valuable item on a phone, this is an easy and free way to back them up.  This will not back up your contacts and other files, but your contacts should be synced with your Google account as well.  Google+ offers 1GB of free storage, however pictures can be automatically resized so they do not count towards your limit if set up correctly.  Videos under 15 minutes and 1080P or less also do not count towards the limit.  The option for unlimited storage/resizing is under settings -> Photo size.    You can also leave them at full size if you would like to and they would all count towards your limit.  Google+ is very easy to setup and when first installed it prompts you if you would like to back up your photos.  I use this to back up my pictures and videos, and it comes in very handy as a free back up application.


Do you ever wish that you didn’t have to unlock your phone to see who that text was from?  DashClock (Play Store) allows you to do just this.  The great thing about DashClock is that it allows you to greatly customize what you see on the screen.  It’s a simple widget that supports extensions.  There are a few extensions that come with it, but many more available on the Play Store, which are free (with a few exceptions).  I use the BetterWeather, next alarm, text messages and Gmail extensions to keep my home screen simple, and have all the information I like to see.  I have the same setup on my lock screen so I do not have to unlock my phone every time.  DashClock itself is also a free app.

If you have any good Android apps that you enjoy using or that have made your life easier, post them below!   Android only this time, there will be another blog coming soon with five favorite iPhone/iPad apps!

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Team Kroll Ontrack – Champions in Data Recovery


With all of the talk in the news about different teams from around the world, I thought it would be a great time to meet some of our worldwide data recovery team.  Here is just a glimpse of why we are so passionate about recovering our customer’s data.

Have you ever wished your daily wins at your job could be celebrated by millions of people?  Maybe you could be a world-renowned IT Support Specialist, Sales Representative or Blog Writer! If you are like me, with an average ability in sports, your job might be the best avenue to become a champion.  The closest I may get to the medal stand is working for a company comprised of a worldwide team striving to recover data for our customers.  Even the tiniest of wins can make you feel like a champion and oftentimes our customers treat us like one.  Each recovery is unique and poses different challenges.  Our team of sales, engineering and support from around the world work together to accomplish what is sometimes viewed as “the impossible.”  Our data recovery team is constantly training and developing new skills to stay ahead of new technology (and the competition). When a new challenge presents itself, our global Just In Time teams work together to take advantage of different time zones in order to quickly find a solution.

Just like a champion athlete, it takes an amazing combination of skill, knowledge, patience, perseverance (and sense of humor) to be a part of our winning data recovery team.   Here is your chance to meet some of our Data Recovery team members from around the globe who will stop at nothing to recover your data.

Ted Persing – United States of America

Remote Data Recovery Engineer

What is your Role in Recovering Data:

I work with logical damage to file systems both in our labs and remote connections.  I also specialize in flash media.

What is your favorite part about working at Kroll Ontrack:

Working in data recovery at Kroll Ontrack allows you to research different areas and encourages new ideas for possible solutions.  The ever-evolving IT world always provides new challenges to overcome.  It’s exciting for me to spend my time at work researching something I am interested in in order to solve a customer’s problem.

Favorite Sport (Winter or Summer):

I was a wrestler in high school and always enjoyed watching that on a global scale, but curling is a close second.  There is always something fun about watching people scream at an inanimate object in different languages.

What similarities do you see between Athletes and Data Recovery Engineers:

Well, we could always go with the cliché answer of “They strive to be the best in their field on a global scale” but that is way too easy to say.  I think everyone wants to be the best at what they like to do.  A better answer I feel would be that in both situations, you get to do and see things that very few people get to do or see.  Athletes are able to travel the world, and as a data recovery engineer we get to see the internal working of computers on a scale few people even think of.


Mike Sewell – United Kingdom

Data Services Consultant

What is your Role in Recovering Data: I have the initial conversations with our customers and am their main point of contact for them and our engineers  regarding the technical details and possibilities for data recovery.

What is your favorite part about working at Kroll Ontrack: Helping. It is great to be a part of something where you get to help people and relieve their worries. Also, the office/lab atmosphere is very friendly.

Favorite Sport (Winter or Summer): I am an avid rugby fan and player, so I have to say that. But I also like cycling. The atmosphere in a velodrome is unbelievable.

What similarities do you see between Athletes and Data Recovery engineers:  Both engineers and athletes have to do an incredible amount of training to get to the top of their respective fields. Also, with the human body and technology developing at a rapid pace you see athletes and engineers both completing tasks that, until now, were considered impossible


Dominique Gitto – France

Data Recovery Manager Ontrack® EasyRecovery & Services

What is your Role in Recovering Data: I manage our French territories call center where we help people with all different type of data loss

What is your favorite part about working at Kroll Ontrack: I am proud to help people access critical data again, whether their data is professional or personal.

Favorite Sport (Winter or Summer): I love swimming.

What similarities do you see between Athletes and Data Recovery Engineers: The challenge is common to both athletes and Data Recovery Engineers.  An athlete will go the extra mile to get a medal. When facing some complex server configurations, a data recovery engineer will also go the extra mile to find the right combination to recover the lost data.


Martin Hiller – Germany

Data Recovery Cleanroom Manager

What is your favorite part about working at Kroll Ontrack: I like the challenge of emergency jobs when customers need their critical data back as soon as possible. When I get my part solved during weekend or through the night then I feel quite satisfied.

Favorite Sport (Winter or Summer):  The Biathlon, Decathlon and Triathlon.

What similarities do you see between Athletes and Data Recovery Engineers: Every successful recovery in cleanroom is kind like a victory in race for me. When I finish several successful recoveries in a day then my day is a good day.


Massimo Scaniglia – Italy

Cleanroom Supervisor

What is your favorite part about working at Kroll Ontrack: Working together with my team and international Data Recovery Kroll Ontrack teams sharing experiences.

Favorite Sport (Winter or Summer): diving (Summer) – downhill (Winter)

What similarities do you see between Athletes and Data Recovery Engineers:

•  Data recovery engineers must be training about technology developments like athletes need to be training to maintain their physical condition.

•  Date recovery engineers must be focused on the goal of recovering data like athletes need to be focused on victory.

•  Data recovery engineers must fight until the end to solve the case like athletes fight to the end to win the competition.

•  Data recovery engineers must love their job like athletes must love their sport.

•  Data recovery engineers can rely on other data recovery like athletes can rely on their teammates if they play in a team.


Przemyslaw Solich – Poland

Data Recovery Engineer

What is your Role in Recovering Data:   I am responsible for the software part of data recovery – I work using drive images and try to put all of the digital puzzle pieces back in the  correct order, so that our customers can have access to their data even if they were  deleted, partially overwritten or simply lost.

What is your favorite part about working at Kroll Ontrack: Working in a great team of professionals and (as with almost all of IT individuals) people with good sense of humor

Favorite Sport (Winter or Summer): Curling and mountain biking

What similarities do you see between athletes and Data Recovery engineers:  Both need to practice through training, we need to be in shape, stay focus on the task and target, work both as individuals and teammates, understand what the goal is and how to reach it; if one person makes a mistake the whole team may fail in achieving their goal.


Kane Southgate – Australia         

Engineering Services Technician             

What is your Role in Recovering Data: As an Engineering Services Technician (ES), I am responsible for diagnosing incoming drives requiring data recovery. I am also responsible for the engineering behind the tape services offered here in Australia and I source parts for our very varied level of work that we see on a daily basis.

What is your favorite part about working at Kroll Ontrack: The workplace is very dynamic and I see new challenges every day, often more than once per day.  The chance to push yourself to new limits and consistently take on new knowledge is a real obsession of mine and it translates well to the end user who benefits from our innovations. 

Favorite Sport (Winter or Summer): Road Racing (Cycling). It is a very interesting and high octane sport due to the many different challenges a cyclist faces and the leverage you have as a team.  I would love to see my favorite team in person.

What similarities do you see between Athletes and Data Recovery Engineers:  One of the biggest similarities between the data recovery engineer and a cycling athlete is the mental preparation for each task we set our sights on.  For cyclists in road events, it’s all about the team work and strategic approach that gets you over the finish line with maximum results and the same can be said about data recovery engineers.  We both specialize highly in our relevant fields and the attention to detail we both apply is enormous.


As you can see, we are comprised of a team of people who are very passionate about data recovery. I believe there is only a select group in the world that would give their all to recover a person’s or business’s data and I am fortunate to be working with them.





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Revolutionizing Data Recovery in a World of Data Encryption


Decryption on the Fly Infographic

The data world is constantly evolving, but over the recent years, I’ve noticed the changes becoming more apparent. Within the past year, it seems like data security has been brought to the forefront of everyone’s mind at least once a month.  Home users and businesses alike are increasing their use of data encryption in order to keep their data safe.  Let’s face it, we live in a world where Twitter users average over 100,000 tweets per minute, Google searches are occurring at 2 million queries per minute and the number of Facebook users equal the population of the third largest country in the world! We are creating data at an alarming rate, and hopefully taking steps to protect it.

Encryption is a process that has been around for quite some time and has long been used by militaries and governments to facilitate secret communications. Simply put, it’s the process of making readable data unreadable. Today, it is commonly used among companies. For those of you with a company issued laptop that has a mandatory password or timer, it’s possible that you are adhering to an enforced encryption policy that protects your organization’s data whenever you log in. Believe it or not, certain types of cellphones even use encryption when you assign a passcode to them and there’s a reason your data is completely wiped after 10 failed attempts! Data protection is a serious issue and encryption has almost become a way of life not only for companies, but even for personal users who increasingly value data protection.

The number of encrypted hard drives in use has steadily risen alongside an increase in cyber security threats that can expose critical personal and business information. Kroll Ontrack, for example, has seen the amount of recovery projects that involve encrypted hard drives more than double since 2009. Now, you might find it slightly ironic that Kroll Ontrack is able to recover from drives that are encrypted. Let me be the first to say that this isn’t a process of jailbreaking nor can we extract passwords through some magical tool. Nope, this is still good old fashioned data recovery in complete cooperation with customers and manufacturers. We’re the good guys, remember? With the significant increase in encrypted drives coming to Kroll Ontrack, our genius group of engineers was recently tasked to come up with a solution to dramatically reduce the amount of time it takes to recover data from encrypted hard drives with a logical or physical failure. Now anyone that recovers data from encrypted drives knows that this is a delicate and cumbersome process. Frequently, the time entailed can determine how much data you can extract off a drive. The challenge was thrown to our engineers because quite simply, we want to rescue as much data as possible and get it back to our customers as quickly as possible (downtime is accumulating losses after all).

As a Product Owner, I’m not entirely unfamiliar with the notion of being overwhelmed when my development team shows me something ground breaking. However, when they demonstrated that the new technology they had developed would literally cut days to hours, I’ll admit even I was a little skeptical. Of course, as engineers like to do, they showed me precisely how it works and low and behold, they had produced something revolutionary. They demonstrated how this new technology allows them to target only areas of the hard drive that have been used while also automating the decryption process – improving not only the typical industry recovery turn time dramatically, but also the success rate of our recoveries. Groundbreaking? You bet!

Product Managers are driven by numbers and trends so needless to say, I’ll be closely observing how much of an impact this has on the many encrypted drives we serve today. Based on what I’ve seen though, I can only imagine how much of an impact this will have for the many customers we serve globally every day. In our evolution to an encrypted world, isn’t it good to know the data recovery process is also evolving?


Click here for more information on Encrypted Data Recovery.

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