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What does it take to recover hard drive files that look like they are gone for good? There is really no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to hard drive recovery, but knowing where to start is critical. Whether you've accidentally deleted files, mistakenly partitioned or formatted your hard disk drive or simply had a run of the mill hard drive failure, the first 15 minutes to one hour is a key time for you. Your actions during this period should be the difference between retrieved data and happiness, and an expensive hard disk data recovery nightmare.

Having a data loss emergency is something no one wants to go through, but inevitably will. Preparing now will save you a lot of pain in the future. Consider these few tips:

1. Don't Panic - Data recovery technicians say this to clients everyday: if you panic and do something rash, you may delete your data for good, and make it impossible to recover your hard drive. If you think you have encountered an all out hard drive crash (and your operating system cannot "see" or use the drive), relax. There is probably little you can do. This is a job for professionals with specialized equipment including a Clean Room. Where panic can kill however, is when you try to "retrieve" accidentally deleted files by yourself. This leads us to point number two.

2. Avoid Utility Programs Or Data Recovery Software - Utility programs (you probably know them: many popular antivirus vendors sell them) are pretty much the kiss of death when it comes to accidentally deleted files. They rarely recover lost files or your hard drive, and typically cause overwrite damage that can ensure your files are gone for good. This is not a time for "one tool fixes all" solutions. What's more, data recovery software can be tricky. Do you trust the developer you found on the web? Are you sure that software will do the trick? Does the software have a data recovery or money back guarantee? If not, be very careful. Many data recovery software vendors setup their website and forget it, pulling revenues daily from hapless data loss sufferers.

3. Trust An Expert - One of the things many of us prefer not to do in this age of chat and quick Internet contact is to actually pick up a phone. The fact is, nine out of ten hard drive recovery vendors have a toll-free line staffed by people who help people recover hard drive files and data every single day of the week. Tapping into this experience is free, and can certainly help calm you down in the event that the data is a little more "mission critical" than a few family photos and some emails. The worst that can happen with a professional on the line is that you at least figure out a direction to go in. Shouldn't you consider this?

It's a fact - hard disk drives fail and accidental file and partition deletion happens. Knowing you have a plan to recover hard drive files and data when that time comes is key to your peace of mind, and to the safety of your files.

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