For the millions around the world who use their PCs daily, coping with corrupt data is inevitable. It's going to happen at some point. Though annoying and potentially damaging to your system, corrupt data needn't have you running for the hills. Understanding how to spot and deal with corrupt data can save you many frustrating hours attempting to recover the affected data.
Data is what your hard disk drive stores on a day to day basis. This includes all the files created by the user in addition to application codes and operating system files. Files can become corrupted if the power supply is interrupted. It can also occur if the computer was not shut down properly or if a external device was not correctly ejected before system shutdown. Files that have not been saved correctly, hardware problems and programming bugs can all lead to corruption of stored information. Software updates that are aborted or fail may further corrupt operating system files.
The above actions or problems can create corrupt data, which will cause a corrupted hard drive directory. When this breaks down, files may look gone when they in fact are still present; causing a discrepancy in the free available disk space measurements vs. the actual contents of the existing data.
If corrupt data has hit your system hard in the past, there are several ways you can use to avoid data corruption from hitting your system in the future.
Schedule Regular Backups
Backing up computer files on a consistent basis is effective, simple and extremely cost-effective. External hard drives that cost about $100 can hold up to 2.5 terabytes and are available from almost any electronics vendor. All important computer files should be saved to an external drive once a week. Make sure all external devices are safely ejected before powering down the system or the file corruption may creep in.
Create Recovery Disks Now While You Have The Chance
Fixing your PC after a system failure will be much easier if you have recovery disks on hand. Check the help section for details on backup and restore on any Windows system to create recovery disks. If the computer ever fails and the files are corrupted, the recovery files can be used to restore the missing files.
Anti-Virus Can Be Your Best Friend
Find dependable anti-virus application that will periodically scan for issues with the directory and files. A good product will fix most of the most common issues before the user is even aware that a problem exists. It's best to do a "deep" or "full" scan at least once per month to rid the system of malware and viruses that sometimes slip in during regular use.
Environmental events like power surges are harmful to computer systems. Shoring yourself up against these surges is as easy as buying yourself an inexpensive power strip that is has some kind of surge protection (most do). Most models will be priced under $25 and require no special outlet. Pretty much anyone sells these, from drugstores to electronics wholesalers, so don't be afraid to look for the best deal.
Sticking to these guidelines will go a long way in helping you avoid the stress and damage that corrupt data is responsible for.
Maureen Davies is an experienced data recovery engineer and editor of http://www.harddriverecovery.org. Find out more about her company's data recovery service here.