Help! I’ve lost my dissertation…Imagine for a moment university life before the widespread adoption of personal computing. Writing a dissertation required access to a library and a small fortune to pay someone to type up your handwritten 10,000 words into a spiral-bound document. Then imagine that you leave your only copy on the bus – and have to start all over again.
Students that don’t back up, print or make a copy of the dissertation that they’re writing on their laptop face a similar nightmare scenario. The deadline is approaching fast and their laptop dies. It could be due to a virus downloaded along with files via BitTorrent or simple hardware failure, but access to the all-important dissertation text is denied.
So what should you do if it happens to you? The first thing is not to panic. Chances are, your files will be recoverable, but you need to take certain steps to make sure you don’t turn a drama into a crisis.
Scenario A – your computer is not working at all
Step 1: Turn your computer off
Step 2: Remove all power sources
Step 3: Contact a reputable data recovery company that will help you assess the situation and options for how to retrieve your data. The engineers at Kroll Ontrack advise that users contact a recovery professional immediately in the case of a storage media failure. This is because inadvertent additional damage can be caused to media that results in data being permanently irretrievable.
Scenario B – your computer is working but your file has disappeared or accidentally been deleted or overwritten
Step 1: Check backups to determine whether any of the data can be retrieved from backups
Step 2: If no backups have been made, assess whether data recovery software can be used to recover files deleted from a recycle bin or overwritten files / damaged devices
Step 3: Installing Ontrack EasyRecovery software is likely to recover the target files. Students can access a free trial of Ontrack EasyRecovery and receive a discount of 15% using the code ‘STUDENT-15’, bringing the price down to £58.65.
Of course hindsight is a wonderful thing, and the last thing you want to hear when you’ve lost data is: ‘you should have made a back-up’. But for all students reading this who have not experienced the pain of losing important files from their computers, it pays to remember that prevention is better than cure.
It may sound dull, but the advice that we give over and over again to students for whom we help to recover data is to make regular back-ups to multiple locations, such as USB drives. Print your document out when you’ve reached certain milestones, as retyping is less arduous than recreating from scratch. You can also save your document on cloud-based services or send it to yourself using a file sharing programme such as Dropbox.
Whichever method you use to back up your data, ensure backups are done regularly, so that you don’t get caught out with a very early draft of a now complete dissertation. After all, you never know when you might inadvertently lose your document on the 21st century equivalent of the Number 9 bus.