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Kroll Ontrack

Whether you’re a lawyer or just a guy who lost yesterday’s work, Kroll Ontrack is ready to come to your aid. The computer forensics company finds info for everyone from federal agencies to befuddled users.

Whether you’re a lawyer, a Fed, or just a guy who lost yesterday’s work, Kroll Ontrack is ready to come to your aid. The Eden Prairie-based computer forensics and data recovery company finds information for everyone from federal agencies to befuddled users. Manager Bob Hackett chats about fast driving, spilled liquids, and lost data.

What made you want to work at Kroll Ontrack?

I first heard about the company when I used their Disk Manager product to help me install a hard drive to my PC. Due to the high-tech nature of Ontrack’s business, I assumed that they were located in California since that’s where all high-tech companies were located at the time. Much to my surprise, I found out the company was actually located about 20 minutes down the road from where I lived. I can’t tell you how fast I drove down to the office to put in a resume and application.

What kinds of challenges do you find in doing data recovery?

The challenges were, and still are, endless. In this line of business, you learn something new every day. We encounter the typical natural disaster recoveries and challenges that create problems of different extremes–floods, fires, spilled liquids, accidentally dropping your laptop in the hot tub, dropped systems or hard drives–just to name a few.

These types of incidents cause some unhealthy problems with the electrical and mechanical properties of hard drives and systems. The heads on a hard drive “fly” at about 3 millionths of an inch, with the magnetic data platters spinning at very high speeds. Knowing this, can you imagine what happens if these devices get dropped, or introduced to a wet, dirty, smoky, or hot environment?

Besides hot tubs, how else do you see computers getting damaged?

There are also challenges related to the operating system and file system structures that allow you to run the computer to add programs, create, store and retrieve your data. If these structures get altered, you often lose access to your precious data and a heart-stopping panic immediately sets in. Other examples are power fluctuations causing a system to go down before the data structures are updated, or a destructive virus code that attempts to cripple your system by rendering the data inaccessible, or by deleting everything it can.

Do you think companies are starting to realize the importance of loss prevention?

Many companies realize the importance of their data, but at times don’t correctly prepare for a data loss situation. It is important for companies to put into place a “disaster recovery” plan and know who to call in the event of a data loss. Many companies do take the extra step and they have a back-up system in place — but if they don’t check to make sure their back-ups are working properly, they might get an unpleasant surprise if or when they experience a data loss.

What are a couple of the common errors that people make in a data loss emergency?

If they have a backup of data at some point, they restore it right over the recently lost data. If it doesn’t work, they have now partially or totally overwritten the chance to recover the data they have recently lost access to. Also, some customers will attempt to recover data themselves with utilities or other means, with little knowledge of the consequences of what can happen. Often times this damages the data that could be recovered had they just called a data recovery specialist right away.

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