It happens very quickly: your computer crashes, and you can't bring it back up. Whether you've encountered a virus or the failure was of a different nature, the result is the same. You can't reach the data you have stored on your hard drive. If the computer in question is a business computer, getting those files back can be crucial, but even if it is your home computer, you need to find some way of recovering the data.
When it comes to recovering data, there are a few methods to go about it and a few factors that will affect how difficult it is to access your files. If you have a recent back-up of your data, returning to normal may be as simple as accessing your back-up and restoring all of the files. If you keep a regular image of your entire computer, you will be right back where you started quickly and easily.
The first thing you will need to do is determine the extent of the damage to your computer. If your hard drive is still functional, you may be able to restore the entire system back to that hard drive. If not, a replacement hard drive might be required. If the damage is more extensive, for example: if your laptop has been physically damaged and is no longer functional, you might find yourself shopping for a new computer before you can go about recovering the lost data. If you are not the tech-savvy type, you will probably want to bring the computer to a professional to see what they can do about the problem.
Starting with a local computer repair shop is a good way to go; if you have purchased any sort of service agreement from the retailer who sold you your computer, you may be able to have them look at it free of charge. If the damage is minimal and the data is easy enough to access, a local repair shop should be able to get you going again quickly.
In some cases, lacking a recent back-up or any back-up at all, and with serious damage to your hard drive, you will have to seek out a data recovery specialist. In most cases, people with the right tools/environment, experience, and technology can access the data on just about any hard drive - no matter what the extent of the damage. You will need to give the hard drive to a data recovery firm to allow them to attempt to recover the data. The cost for this type of service varies, and most will provide you with an estimate up front so that you can tell what you are facing as far as expenses.
Some users attempt to recover their own data using data recovery software that is available at retail outlets. This can be a viable and cost-effective option, but can also cause you to inadvertently overwrite your "lost" data when you are installing or using the software. If you can afford the possibility that your data could be lost forever (i.e. once it has been overwritten it cannot be recovered), then you may want to attempt your own recovery. However, with important data, you will want to contact a data recovery company to retrieve the lost files.
When it comes to data recovery, being prepared is the best remedy. You will save yourself a lot of difficulties as well as time and money if you keep regular and accurate back-ups of your system. With this available to you, getting your computer up and running again will be a lot easier, and you won't have to seek out a data recovery company.
If you have already experienced data loss and have successfully recovered your files, you should immediately look into a new data back-up system for the future. You can prevent another data disaster if you are certain to perform back-ups on a regular basis and keep your back up files in a secure location.
Whatever the source or the severity of your data loss situation, there are a wide variety of solutions that can help get you back up and running with minimal permanent data loss; hopefully with no permanent data loss at all. While minor issues can probably be addressed at home with the right software, when it comes to serious loss of important data, trust the data recovery professionals to get your files back in order. Unless you know what you are doing, it's best not to try to fix the problem yourself; you could make the situation worse.