Sunday, 30 June 2019

How To Be Productive When You Can’t Connect To The Internet

It’s frustrating when there’s no internet. You can’t seem to do anything. Everything you do seems to be dependent on the internet. So, when you can’t connect, you can’t work.

It doesn’t have to be that way. You can still stay productive even if you can’t connect to the internet. Here’s a list of things to do when you can’t seem to connect to the internet.

The first on the list of things to do to stay productive is to check out services that aren’t web-based.

When greeted with that dreaded “Unable to Connect” message, you may be tempted to play Google’s Dinosaur Game for the rest of the day. But you can do better. Plenty of online services allow offline access, including Gmail, Google Docs, and Google Calendar. You won’t be able to download new messages or sync new files, obviously, but you’ll be able to see whatever was there the last time your computer was online.

You may, however, be unable to allow offline access while you’re disconnected, so it’s important to plan ahead by checking your settings when you have internet.


The second productive task you can do when you can’t seem to connect to the internet is to do some cleaning up.

There’s a good chance your computer’s hard drive is a disorganized mess. No matter how obsessive you are about keeping things clean, other work always gets in the way.


The best time to organize files is when you just can’t seem to connect to the internet. As boring as it may sound, just do it.

When you’re offline, it’s the perfect opportunity to take care of these boring-but-necessary duties. You need to handle them at some point, so what better time than when you’re forced to put other jobs on hold? Clear up that hard drive. Clean your messy desktop. Remove those browser extensions you aren’t using. And maybe even give your laptop a physical wipe-down—it’s probably pretty grimy.


The third productive thing you can do is to finally catch up on other tasks. Aside from computer-related stuff, there are other things you can do.

It’s amazing how fast your to-do list can grow while “real” work is getting done.

Since a lot of these tasks don’t require internet—or even a computer, for that matter—they’re a great choice for when your connection goes kaput. So start chugging away at the ones you can do where you are—you obviously can’t mow the lawn if you’re stuck in the office. Even if you never leave your desk, making all those phone calls you’ve been putting off will take a lot of your mind. While you’re at it, call your family, too—they probably haven’t heard from you in ages.


Another productive thing you can do is to take advantage of the time to brainstorm new ideas.

With so many tasks coming at you each day, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. According to David Allen, author of "Getting Things Done" and creator of the productivity method with the same name, the key to organizing your jumbled thoughts is getting them out of your head and down on paper. This will help you avoid that anxious feeling you get when you have a long list of stuff you want to remember, but are worried you’ll forget it. You can’t forget what’s written in front of you.

With the internet down, it’s a good time to do just that, so grab a piece of paper and do a brain dump. Write down everything that’s been on your mind: ideas you’ve been meaning to pitch to your boss, whatever’s been stressing you out at home, even that ridiculous thought you had in the shower. Once it’s all out there, figure out which tasks you might be able to delegate to others and which ones you can get out of the way immediately. Once you separate the meaningful from the mess, you can jump back into work more confidently when the internet returns.


If you can’t seem to get any work done because there’s no internet connection, why not take advantage of the time to learn something new, like Photoshop. You can also use the downtime to learn more about Excel.

Sure, the internet can be incredibly helpful for learning how these tools work, but you’d be surprised what you can do with a little offline exploration. Poke around the menus and see what you find. And if you’re in an office, maybe the Excel expert down the hall would be willing to give you a brief crash course. After all, their internet’s down too, so their day just blew wide open.


How about you take a walk? You probably need it.

There’s no shame in using broken internet as an opportunity to take a break from work. In fact, you should probably be standing up and taking breaks more often, since sitting all day is slowly killing you, and that screen is probably causing some eye strain.


The most productive thing you can do when there’s no internet is to check your backups. This is not to say that you shouldn’t check your backups when there’s internet connection, it’s just that it’s probably not a priority of yours.

It’s important to check your backups. Check your external hard drives and see if they're working.  If they're not, then  why not seek professional hard drive recovery service to make sure your backups are retrievable.

Now, be careful. Just because you have some time to spare, doesn’t mean you can tinker with your hard drive. Don't waste time doing that. Instead, leave it to the experts who can find some repairable solutions to a

The post How To Be Productive When You Can’t Connect To The Internet is available on HDRG


Thursday, 27 June 2019

Have You Backed Up Your Mac Computer?

Is your  Mac backed up? If it's not, then back it up. Just because it’s a Mac, doesn’t mean it’s spared from any kind of damage. You have to think ahead. Back up your Mac to protect your data.

Backing up your computer is probably not something you think about every day. But even if it hasn't been at the top of your mind lately, it will inevitably become important.

Just think about how your computer will work two or three or five years from now — what will happen to all of your data if your Mac suddenly goes black-screen on you?


There’s really no reason for you not to back up your Mac. Considering how easy it is, especially with the new OS, you should just do it.

Even though most people know they should backup their information, the motivation isn't always strong enough to make it happen. Luckily, Macs are really easy to back up.

In fact, they're designed to do it, all you have to do is pick a backup method and set it up.


You can back up your Mac with these  two easy options.

1. Time Machine: a program that works with an external storage device to make digital copies of your Mac, including everything from information to look and feel.
2. iCloud: wireless syncing for all of your Mac's apps that can be accessed from any of your Apple devices.


Here’s how you can set up your Mac with the Time Machine.

Time Machine is a built-in backup feature on your Mac. It automatically makes hourly backup versions of your computer that cover the past 24 hours as well as daily and weekly versions to cover the past month and all previous months, respectively.

And everything maintains the look you created — that way, you can look back at your stuff as it was when you set it up, instead of having to recreate it as best as you can remember.

But to create actual backups with Time Machine, you'll need an external storage device, and of course a way of connecting it to your computer — whether that's a physical cord connecting to an external hard drive or using an AirPort Time Capsule.


You can also use an external storage device with Time Machine. Here’s how it can be done.

1. Connect the device; once your computer recognizes that you've done so, a popup window may appear asking if you want to use it with Time Machine.
2. You can choose to encrypt your backup disk or not by ticking or unticking the box (it is recommended to encrypt), then click "Use as backup disk."


If Mac doesn’t give you the option to use Time Machine, follow the steps below.

1. Click the Time Machine symbol in your top toolbar (it looks like a curving arrow pointing backward, surrounding a clock face) and click "Open Time Machine Preferences..."

2. Click "Select Backup Disk" (it may also say "Select Disk," or "Add or Remove Backup Disk").

3. Click on your external drive and click "Use Disk."

If your drive isn't properly formatted for Time Machine, you'll be asked to erase everything from it so it can be set up in a compatible way.

After you've selected your backup method and set up Time Machine on your Mac, it will automatically begin making those periodic copies of your Mac, mentioned above. Keep in mind that the first sync may take a long time, depending on how many files you have.

You can also opt to create a backup manually by going back up to the Time Machine icon in the top toolbar and selecting "Back up now."


iCloud is your other option. Here’s how you can set it up to back up your Mac.

1. Make sure your Mac is fully updated by going to the Apple menu in the upper left corner of your screen and clicking "App Store" — you may need to login using your Apple ID — then click "Updates" in the left sidebar.

2. Go back up to the Apple menu in the upper left corner of the screen and select "System Preferences" then "iCloud."

3. Log in using your Apple ID and agree the terms and conditions.

4. Choose whether or not to use iCloud for: your documents and data; the use of Find My Mac.

After completing the process outlined above, you'll be able to see which apps you can include or exclude from your iCloud account, as well as how much storage data your information currently takes up, out of 5 free GB. If necessary, you may choose to upgrade to a larger iCloud account — for a range of monthly fees.

From there on, the information you dictate will be automatically updated as your documents change and grow. And your stored data can then be accessed from any other device, so long as you use the same Apple ID.


So, go back up your Mac now. In case, anything happens to  to your Mac and you can't seem to get your data back from Time Machine, don't worry because you can always consider a reliable

The blog post Have You Backed Up Your Mac Computer? Read more on: HDRG


Sunday, 23 June 2019

Windows 7: Thanks For The Memories

It’s heartbreaking. The end is near for Windows 7. We have been warned but it’s really hard to accept it. In less than a year, there will be no more support for Windows 7.

You may have seen a “Microsoft courtesy reminder” screen telling you that “support for Windows 7 is nearing the end!” Usually pop-ups with dire warnings and lots of exclamation points are not trustworthy. However, in this case, the message most likely is from Microsoft! Why?

On Oct. 22, 2009, Windows 7 was released to the public and on Jan. 13, 2020, it reaches the end of its extended support from Microsoft. You may continue using it, but there will be no more updates for this Windows version. Unless you are part of an organization that pays Microsoft to get up to three additional years of updates, the security of your system will disintegrate slowly but surely. I have clients who still have Windows XP units (whose support ended in 2014). Generally these systems are not used online anymore, but have been maintained to operate old software that will not run on a newer version of Windows or is deemed too expensive to upgrade.


It takes some time to adjust to a new operating system. Windows 7 is very easy to use. Unfortunately,  change is inevitable.

Some Windows users simply don’t like change, and a new operating system always means changes. Remember Vista? Some clients kept on using it long after the end of extended support, only to find out that browsers such as Chrome and Mozilla refused to open certain websites and programs. This was because without Windows updates, they weren’t secure enough anymore or the programmers had pulled the plug on this old operating system. For example, Office 2019, will only install on Windows 10. I ran into the same problem with some Adobe products. No one can guarantee that an application update or replacement will run on your old system.


Question is, what are the options for diehard Windows 7 users like us?

One option is to keep on using your computer “as is.” But if this is your choice, after January 2020, it’s best to not use it on the Internet. The computer will be increasingly more vulnerable to computer viruses, malware, etc.

You might decide just to buy a new system with Windows 10 and get your programs and data transferred over. If you are computer savvy, there are programs to help you with this process. Otherwise, it’s best to have this done by a local pro.

Another option is to keep your current computer and upgrade the Windows 7 system to Windows 10. When Windows 10 first came out, years ago, this upgrade was free of charge; now you have to buy a Windows 10 license to do this.

There is good and bad news about this option. This upgrade is an “in place” upgrade. Theoretically, you can boot from the Windows 10 CD (or USB stick) to start the upgrade. After this is completed, the system will now be running on Windows 10.

But there’s a bad hitch to this. If something goes wrong during the process, you could lose valuable data and programs. It’s easy to click on the wrong option and end up with a clean install of Windows (which wipes out your data). And if the hard drive is old or on its last legs, it could roll over and die during the intense reading/writing process of this big upgrade.


Leaving Windows 7 to work as it is, could endanger our privacy. Upgrading seems to be the most practical option but there is also the threat of losing data. No matter what OS we use, data loss is always a threat.

That’s okay because when that happens, I can always call on a professional data recovery expert. It’s easy to find one from the Hard Drive Recovery Group.

Going back to Windows 7, well, thanks for the memories.

Windows 7: Thanks For The Memories Read more on:


Tuesday, 18 June 2019

Keep Your Computer Safe From Ransomware

Ransomware is the latest cyber threat. It silently infects your computer. You won't be able to  access your files. Don't become a victim. Read on to learn more about it.

This week on "60 Minutes," correspondent Scott Pelley reports on the growing cyber threat called ransomware, a type of malware that locks up a victim's files and denies access to a computer system until money is paid with a digital currency that is hard to trace. While Pelley's report focuses on the effects of ransomware, the experts he spoke with said most attacks can be prevented.


Although it could be prevented, some cities have already been hit by it.

The cities of Newark, Atlanta, and Sarasota have been hit. So have Cleveland's airport and San Francisco's transit authority. When the cyberattack targeted Leeds, Alabama, its mayor had no access to email, personnel files, or financial systems.


There are ways to prevent a ransom attack. Know more about them so that you could keep your computer safe from ransomware.

The first thing you can do to prevent ransomware from infecting your computer is to practice what the experts call “cyber hygiene.”

The FBI's Mike Christman recently ran the bureau's cybercrime unit. He gave Pelley tips on preventing a ransomware attack:

• Use two-factor authentication. Two-factor, or dual-factor authentication adds a layer of security to online accounts  by requiring two ways of proving your identity. One common form of two-factor authentication is entering a password, then receiving a one-time numerical code via text message.

• Backup your data offline. Use an external hard drive to secure important information.

• Use internal firewalls on your network. That way, if a malicious actor accesses your computer, he cannot move laterally through the network and lock up the entire system. Experts liken it to preventing one person's case of the flu from turning into an epidemic.

• Regularly update your password. Cyber criminals looking to hack into a system sometimes purchase stolen passwords on the dark web.

• Remote access creates an additional set of vulnerabilities. Understand the risks, including the possibility of stolen passwords, and how to prevent them when allowing employees or IT staff remote access to networks.


Another way to prevent ransomware from attacking, is to keep an open eye on phishing emails.

The most common type of ransomware attack starts with a phishing email, which tries to get users to open an attachment or click on a link. The attachment or link then installs ransomware.

Tom Pace is a vice president at BlackBerry Cylance, a leading cybersecurity firm. He spoke with 60 Minutes producer Henry Schuster about how to identify phishing emails, saying to look for these signs:

• Misspelled words

• Strange word choices

• Odd links, especially from someone who wouldn't usually send a link

• Unusual attachments, especially a zip file or a .exe file

Pace said to be aware of where the email is coming from, and if it appears to be coming from a friend, call the person and ask if they sent an attachment before you open it.


You should also make sure that your computer’s software is updated.

Pace told 60 Minutes that, when your computer tells you to update software, do it. It's called patching.

Over time, hackers find vulnerabilities within software, such as operating systems, Adobe Reader, and Microsoft Word. Vendors eventually patch those systems with regular updates—so you need to update as well.


Last but not the least, you always have to be prepared. You should never ever think that it’s not going to happen to you because it can and it will.

If you have been practicing all the steps mentioned above and somehow, you still can’t access your files, then these emergency tips might be able to help you.

When it comes to, calling the experts might just be the best and safest way to get your data back.

Keep Your Computer Safe From Ransomware Read more on:


Thursday, 13 June 2019

Data Recovery Service Discusses Windows 10 Growth, Identity Theft With New Blogs

Continuing its series on data recovery, operating systems and keeping data safe in today's Internet dependent computing environment, Hard Drive Recovery Group's latest post discusses Windows 10.

The popularity of Windows 10 for PCs and laptop computers is unlikely to be shaken without significant a catalysts in the PC market, which remains unlikely.

"Although for many people having a desktop computer is part of their everyday life, this segment is one that few vendors are really focusing on for growth," said Maureen Davies, spokesperson for Hard Drive Recovery Group. "The market itself has been seeing lower numbers for desktops since about 2010, which means any innovation at that level is not exactly something a hot, growing company might be interested in."

Interestingly, the industry recognized cause of lower growth numbers for desktop computers, the sales growth of laptop and tablet computers, also appears to be falling. Whether that is because of higher quality materials, better hard drives or faster chips in newer computers that enable users to use them for a longer period of time, or because the platforms are becoming stale, PC growth has stalled.

"One of the major drivers of growth for PCs in general in the early 2000s tended to be the fact that software vendors were continuing to create their applications with a focus on using more and more computing resources as they became available to mainstream machines," said Davies. "Even as early as 2010, almost all software companies outside of maybe video and gaming app developers had simply stopped building software that would test the capabilities of the hardware. The hardware had grown too strong."

Not entirely coincidentally, around 2010 smart phones began to be real competitors to even laptop computers in their ability to perform computing tasks on the go. Microsoft at the time did make an attempt to port its Windows OS to smart phones, but was able to find very few partners for the OS, and even fewer for the Windows Store - the latter which had to compete with far larger application marketplaces like Apple's App Store and Google's Play.

"I'm sure there will be many books written about Microsoft's missteps in the smart phone market, but it appears obvious that they simply did not have an answer for the iPhone at the time," said Davies. "But in the end, Windows wasn't willing to ease some of the developer restrictions that Google was, and the result was that Windows 10 didn't have the phone environment to establish new growth with."

In another post, entitled Tracking Down A Lost Hard Drive, Hard Drive Recovery Group spotlights a case where a man had a hard drive stolen. The lost drive led to identity theft as well as the loss of thousands of photographs of his young son. There are lessons to be learned for every hard drive user.

"External hard drives and flash drives are incredibly useful and portable while being one of the cheapest forms of data storage available," said Davies. "The problem with them is that some people use them to completely backup their lives. If these drives are lost or stolen, they can cause a lot of headache."

Hard Drive Recovery Group recommends that external hard drives that contain critical file backups and personal data should be kept at home, and not transported anywhere unless absolutely necessary. Simply keeping a hard drive in the same place is going to mean the likelihood of theft or loss is very small.

"In the end, there really should not be a reason why you should need to carry a drive with all of your critical data on it anywhere," said Davies. "In fact, if you have a portable drive, we recommend deleting personal items that have been backed up elsewhere to ensure safety."

from Hard Drive Recovery Group

Wednesday, 12 June 2019

Expert Shares Her Thoughts On Data Recovery And Windows 10

Windows 10 is very popular these days. Most computer users are using this particular OS. That's why it is always good to hear from the experts as to what their thoughts are regarding this very popular OS.

Continuing its informative series of blogs surrounding hard drive technology and operating systems, including MacOS, Hard Drive Recovery Group discusses the popularity of Microsoft Corporation's Windows 10, easily the dominant OS when it comes to PCs.

"It's really an amazing situation that PCs continue to use Microsoft Windows so long after the OS really made its debut in 1985," said Maureen Davies, spokesperson for Hard Drive Recovery Group. "There have certainly been a ton of hiccups along the way, but despite some slight moves by Google's Chrome and Android, we're still talking about the absolutely most dominant OS that the world has ever seen."

(Via: )

Let me iterate. Windows is immensely popular among computer users. Now when it comes to smartphones, it’s Android. This might raise a couple of eyebrows out there but come on, it’s true.

While Android did gain the majority market share for Operating Systems in 2014, the key focus of that OS tends to be smartphones and tablets. Windows did fail to provide a solid competitor for these mobile devices, as so called Windows Phones sold incredibly poorly. Still, when it comes to PCs of almost any kind, Windows remains the default choice for most users.

(Via: )

Davies shares her thoughts as to why Windows manages to dominate the market.

"Certainly one of the more critical reasons why Windows managed to save its market share is undoubtedly because they simply gave it away when it came out as a free upgrade if you already had a Windows based system," said Davies. "For businesses in general, 'rocking the boat' when it comes to computing is a major no-no, and of course Windows 10 provides continuity for companies."

(Via: )

It’s just very unfortunate that Windows 7 is not anymore supported by Microsoft. The options for the remaining Windows 7 users are not exactly ideal.

As noted in the post, entitled Windows 10 Domination, another one of the major considerations for most users is that the most popular previous iteration of the OS, Windows 7, has had support discontinued by Microsoft, which sadly makes it a risky proposition for most users.

(Via: )

This is what Davies has to say about that.

"Like it or not, there are hackers, and there is malware and viruses no matter where you look thanks to email and the Internet," said Davies. "Windows 10 is by far the best in terms of security in the series, and because Microsoft is heavily focused on supporting it, it's a solid investment."

(Via: )

Data ubiquity is important these days. Microsoft’s attempt to make data more ubiquitous is evident with their app called Your Phone. This particular app allows us to access data from our Android phone right from our computer.

An additional feature that has just been revealed is that an app called "Your Phone", which has been created to allow users to access an Android phone directly from a Windows computer, a boon for users that need semi-seamless access to data on their smart phones.

(Via: )

Davies shares her valuable thoughts on this.

"The Smart Phone is easily the most used device for both business and personal use, but there has always been an issue when it comes to making them talk to PCs," said Davies. "Microsoft offers what looks to be an excellent starter product that hopefully they can expand upon in the years to come."

(Via: )

The most valuable thoughts from Davies have a lot to do with solid data management solutions.

"Today's larger organization can have access to thousands and thousands of terabytes of data in their day to day, with each type of data critical to their mission often in a differing way," said Davies. "Managing this data requires expert planning, and applications that weren't available a mere ten years ago. Developers are taking notice."

(Via: )

Davies is right. When it comes to data management, most especially data recovery, there has to be a solid plan. There has to be a set of experts focusing solely on data recovery. A solid data management does not include any DIYs.

"After YouTube started getting really popular, the do-it-yourself crowd started calling us at a rate that really hadn't been seen before," said Davies. "The unfortunate part about this is that many DIYers tend to actually destroy their lost data while trying to recover it, which means we can't provide a data recovery service, and they won't be seeing their data again."

Davies stresses that high quality data recovery service companies will almost always offer a free evaluation either in person or by phone, which means there is rarely a need to pull out a screwdriver or attempt to source drive parts from manufacturers.

"If you love your data, give a hard drive recovery company a call," said Davies. "You'll be much happier that you did."

(Via: )

Again, Davies is right. A high-quality data recovery service company, like the Hard Drive Recovery Group, can do the job right. For them, is never hopeless.

The following blog article Expert Shares Her Thoughts On Data Recovery And Windows 10 Read more on: Hard Drive Recovery Group


Tuesday, 11 June 2019

Tracking Down A Lost Hard Drive Can Be Devastating

A lost hard drive is bad news. No one wants to lose a hard drive, especially one that’s filled with valuable data like family photos and videos. That would be heartbreaking. Sacred family memories should always be kept private. They should never be handed over to complete strangers. It’s just too dangerous.

A hard drive can be filled with so many kinds of data. For it get lost or stolen just widens the possibility of exposing data to complete strangers. That pretty much explains why a man, in a particular news article dated March 9, 2019, is heartbroken after losing his hard drive filled with family memories.

Tymes Marsh has been documenting his three-year old son, Wes. He started from the day Wes came home from the hospital.

Tymes Marsh says since the day his three-year-old son Wes was born, he's been documenting every memory. From the trip home from the hospital to his first steps, even swim lessons.


There is a very good reason as to why Tymes went on to document the life of his young son.

"One day I was hoping that when he got older, I could show him how much I cared about him and how much I love him," said Marsh.


Who can blame Tymes? Any parent would do exactly what he had started to do. With the convenience the digital world has to offer, it makes sense for any parent to maximize the use of technology to document every single, living moment of a child.

In the three years that have passed, Tymes had documented a lot. Then suddenly, all his hard work went down the drain.

Now, Marsh is doing everything to still get that chance. The father says he got a call from his bank in February, flagging some suspicious activity on his debit card. Marsh says that's when he realized one of his two backpacks were missing. Inside, his wallet and a hard drive containing thousands of photos and videos, years of memories he's collected and stored of his son.


Tymes not only lost all the memorable photos and videos of his young son, he’s also in the verge of losing his identity. The fact that someone had tried to use his debit card means his identity is already being compromised. Who knows what can happen next?

This is a good example of how valuable data can end up in the hands of a stranger. Unfortunately, in Tymes’ case, it ended up in the hands of a heartless crook.

Marsh believes someone opened up his passenger car door, which he says could have been unlocked, and took the backpack lying in plain sight.


While he reported the incident to the police, he decided to do some digging himself. Although he has been able to provide some good leads to the police, he is still waiting and hoping to get back the hard drive that contains all his precious memories.

There’s a lot to learn from Tymes’ story. One of which is to lock car doors at all times. Seriously, there’s more to the story than just locking car doors.

The most important thing to learn from Tymes’ story is how to store and protect a hard drive. Truth be told, hard drives should always be stored in a specific way. Keeping it in a backpack is not the safest way to protect it.

The data in the hard drive could get corrupted, even worse, lost. Unfortunately, it’s inevitable to keep a hard drive in a backpack. There will be times when we won’t have the time to store and to protect our hard drives the right way. Hard drives will end up in our backpack at some point. When that happens, our data is in danger as well. Hence, it’s best to recover the data from our hard drive first. In doing so, we will be needing so that our data can be transferred to a safer place.

The following article Tracking Down A Lost Hard Drive Can Be Devastating is republished from HDRG


Thursday, 6 June 2019

Data Recovery Service Discusses New Possibilities With Hard Drives In New Blogs

While hard disk drives may just be boring old technology to most people - steady working electronic data storage that gets the job done - Hard Drive Recovery Group points out that HDD units can be far more than just that in its latest blog.

Entitled "What Does A Hard Drive Do?" discusses a recent finding by computer scientists that demonstrates that the mechanical components that make up a hard disk drive can behave as a microphone. The process involves accessing an acoustic side channel that enables scientists to measure how sound waves make hard disk parts vibrate during use.

The research was presented in May at the 2019 IEEE Symposium on Security and Privacy. It shows that although the actual HDD vibrations do not yield sound of particularly good quality, human speech can be discerned, given the right conditions.

"The process is something that the scientists discovered is possible when the HDD firmware is altered, using an offset called the Positional Error Signal," said Maureen Davies, spokesperson for Hard Drive Recovery Group. "While this certainly does create a pretty huge 'neat-o factor', it also unfortunately seems like the kind of discovery that has more applications for bad actors such as hackers."

Certainly, the findings in this study are preliminary, and to suggest that current drives are easily programmable to pick up unauthorized audio is probably going beyond the realms of possibility. But, the idea of the technology being used as a hack-friendly listening device in the future is a terrifying one, without a doubt.

"One of the lucky things about this particular research is that in order to create this listening channel, one has to use malicious firmware and install it into the hard drive itself," said Davies. "This is the kind of process that is far from seamless and very few operating systems would allow to happen remotely. And yet, it does certainly create a chilling effect for a discovery that would otherwise be quite interesting."

In another recent blog post, the company discusses large hard disk drives as well as hard drive failure - the latter being absolutely key annoyance for almost anyone that has used a drive based computer or gadget. The tendency for many consumers is to trust newer technologies and have expectations of better performance - something which they should avoid when it comes to new hard drives based on old designs.

"Despite the fact that hard drives are now starting to have capacities upwards of 10TB and greater, the key design breakpoint - the platter and spindle - remain the same," said Davies. "The fact that many people do not understand is that hard drives, while certainly less prone to failure than, say, 20 years ago, are still subject to very similar rates of crash."

And in another post, Hard Drive Recovery Group talked about Privacy Flag, an EU funded project that allows consumers to better protect their data privacy while online. Education surrounding online data privacy is always something that consumers can use, particularly in an environment where literally five companies have control over the personal data of hundreds of millions of consumers.

"Europe is almost always ahead of the game when it comes to protecting the individual rights of people over the profit concerns of corporations," said Davies. "It is unfortunate that in the US, agencies like the FTC and FCC have become rubber stamp organizations for large corporations. Yet, as these huge corporations continue to affect consumers on a daily basis, the idea of breaking them up via antitrust laws has become much more popular than ever before."

from Hard Drive Recovery Group

Wednesday, 5 June 2019

What Does A Hard Drive Do?

A hard drive stores data. From a layman’s point of view, that is the main function of a hard drive. It stores our precious digital data.

Apparently, the function of a hard drive can get more interesting than that. In the future, a hard drive can do more than just that.

Eggheads at the University of Michigan in the US, and Zhejiang University in China, have found that hard disk drives (HDDs) can be turned into listening devices, using malicious firmware and signal processing calculations.


So, if you think that only walls have ears; think again. Here’s how two computer scientists are making it possible for hard drives to eavesdrop.

For a study titled "Hard Drive of Hearing: Disks that Eavesdrop with a Synthesized Microphone," computer scientists Andrew Kwong, Wenyuan Xu, and Kevin Fu describe an acoustic side-channel that can be accessed by measuring how sound waves make hard disk parts vibrate.

"Our research demonstrates that the mechanical components in magnetic hard disk drives behave as microphones with sufficient precision to extract and parse human speech," their paper, obtained by The Register ahead of its formal publication, stated. "These unintentional microphones sense speech with high enough fidelity for the Shazam service to recognize a song recorded through the hard drive."


Although their research was presented in May this year, it’s something that we should all look forward to.

The team's research work, scheduled to be presented in May at the 2019 IEEE Symposium on Security and Privacy, explores how it's possible to alter HDD firmware to measure the offset of a disk drive's read/write head from the center of the track it's seeking.

The offset is referred to as the Positional Error Signal (PES) and hard drives monitor this signal to keep the read/write head in the optimal position for reading and writing data. PES measurements must be very fine because drive heads can only be off by a few nanometers before data errors arise. The sensitivity of the gear, however, means human speech is sufficient to move the needle, so to speak.

"These extremely precise measurements are sensitive to vibrations caused by the slightest fluctuations in air pressure, such as those induced by human vocalizations," the paper explained.

Vibrations from HDD parts don't yield particularly good sound, but with digital filtering techniques, human speech can be discerned, given the right conditions.


Now, wait a minute. As interesting as it may sound, it’s sounds alarming as well. If hard drives could discern and eventually store human speech, then it could possibly pick up more than just a wealth of information.

Aside from the data that we aim to store in it, bits and pieces of information that come out of our mouth could be stored as well. When that happens, we could end up documenting a lot of things, even things that we have no intention of documenting. Bottom line is, that is scary. Hard drives turning into microphones are scary.

It’s hard to get into the technical part of the research. But from a layman’s point of view, there is a possibility that hard drives could eventually capture and store spoken language.

In this age of technology, nothing is impossible. The time will come when the function of a hard drive is going to level up. Its capacity to store data is going to be limitless in due time.

Before we get to the moment when hard drives can capture and store human speech, it’s important to remember that hard drives fail as well. No matter how limitless their functions are, they can fail as well.

That’s the reason why we should take data recovery seriously. When we deal with hard drives, we not only deal with data storage but with data recovery as well. This page deals a lot with data recovery. If we care enough to know what a hard drive can do in the future, we should care enough to know how to recover files from it as well.

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Hard Drive Recovery Group Discusses Data Analysis And Data Protection With Latest Blogs

Data recovery service provider Hard Drive Recovery Group discusses the differences between data analysis and data visualization with its latest blog post.

As the corporate world continues to mine and find new ways to work with data, analysis has become a large sector for people with backgrounds in computer science and mathematics. This has resulted in a reasonable number of new jobs in a variety of sectors.

"Data analysis is no longer the classic 'nerd in a cave' sector that it used to be," said Maureen Davies, spokesperson for Hard Drive Recovery Group. "As corporations have begun to see the potential and profit hidden within their company and customer data, they are looking for self-starters and high achievers - ones that happen to know how to work and analyze data to create results."

Data visualization, meanwhile, tends to focus on the actual visual presentation of data, whether it be through charts, graphs or others pictorial forms. The goal of any solid data visualization expert is to make data analysis conclusions very simple to decipher for the reader that may not be completely familiar with the original study.

"Data visualization is one of those skills that allow executives and sales people to understand pretty complex data sets quickly and without a lot of background," said Davies. "These creators can be huge in terms of presenting findings from data analysis that would never be very obvious to the layman."

During the month of May, Hard Drive Recovery Group tackled a variety of subjects in its blog, starting out the month discussing data loss and backups.

"As a data recovery company, we are always surprised by new causes and symptoms of data loss that computer users seem to come up with on a daily basis," said Davies. "In the end, proper backup plans are by far the absolute best way to avoid data loss, and we recommend that every computer or smartphone user create one and stick to it."

In another post, the company addressed both RAID and NAS systems, as well as new TSA regulations that will soon allow laptop users to keep their computer in their case during security checks.

"When it comes to air travel, one of the biggest bottlenecks when it comes to time and delays has got to be pre-boarding security," said Davies. "Any ways that the TSA can lessen the time it takes for each individual passenger to get through security is going to have a major effect across the board."

Another blog post references the popularity of SSD drives as well as restoring backups - the latter a process that few people tend to discuss.

"By far one of the most overlooked things when it comes to backing up data is testing the actual backup file itself," said Davies. "There truly is nothing worse than losing a hard drive due to mechanical failure, and then going to your backup only to discover that the file is corrupt or that the backup process was somehow faulty."

Backing up hard drives is one of those tasks that has been made quite easy as of late by newer advances in backup software both as paid for applications and as freeware. To add to this ease is the fact that external hard drives are now in the 4-5TB range, which is more than enough for almost all consumers that don't count video as a major part of their data.

"The great thing about the new external drives is that you can literally take all of your data anywhere," said Davies. "This can be a double edged sword, of course, which is why we recommend a backup drive stay put in a closet or in a place where it can always be accessed for backups on the go."

from Hard Drive Recovery Group

Monday, 3 June 2019

Data Analysis Vs. Data Visualization: What’s The Difference?

We all work with data. Smart decisions can’t be made without data. It’s safe to say that data make the work go around. Just imagine if there weren’t any data. Where would we all be? We’d all be back in the dark ages where our survival was based merely on hunting for food. We have definitely gone a long way since then because our survival now relies on data.

Nowadays, the data industry has grown immensely. From data practitioners to data scientists, several skill sets have been created to deal solely with data.

Numerous job adverts focus on data visualization skills while not necessarily specifying the importance of analytical skills. Job titles reflect this trend with the emergence of new roles such as ‘data artist’, ‘data visualization expert’ and ‘data storyteller’, but organizations are still looking for people who can extract value from their data, so these roles must include analytical skills.


In this huge data community, there are two terms that are bit confusing. These two data terms are data analysis and data visualization. What’s the difference between the two?

The two terms data analysis and data visualization seem to have become synonymous in everyday language in the wider data community.


We often hear about data analysis in the workplace. It’s a term that’s used all the time. The question is, what really is data analysis? Is it really just analyzing the data that’s made available?

Data analysis is an exploratory process that often starts with specific questions. It requires curiosity, the desire to find answers and a good level of tenacity, because those answers aren’t always easy to come by.


It really takes more than just analyzing available data. It’s not enough to say that we all have to look deeper into the data to get insightful answers or solutions. Data analysis is a fact-finding process to discover something relevant.

Data visualization may sound new. Nonetheless, it's a very significant and specific task in the wonderful world of data.

Data visualization involves the visual representation of data, ranging from single charts to comprehensive dashboards. Effective visualizations significantly reduce the amount of time it takes for your audience to process information and access valuable insights.


Is one more important than the other? Of course not. Both are greatly important in the world of data. As a matter of fact, one can't do without the other.

However, that’s not to say that the two never work in harmony – far from it. In working with data, analysis should come before the visual output, but visual analytics can be an excellent method for running more effective analyses.

Visual analytics involves the process of building different charts with your data to give you various perspectives. This helps you identify outliers, gaps, trends and interesting data points that warrant further investigation.


Both data analysis and data visualization are important in coming up with cutting-edge findings. With the exponential growth in data, data visualization makes it easier for us to get a representation of what we need exactly from the raw data. Since data visualization transforms critical information into charts, graphs, videos, and images we are able to understand the numbers and eventually gain valuable insights from them.

The data world is so huge these days that we all need various ways to create value out of them. Both data analysis and data visualization are ways to make use of the abundant information that’s available out there.

That just goes to show the importance of data in everyday life. We simply cannot make sense of the available data if we don’t protect them. It’s a no-brainer. We won’t be able to analyze data, more so visualize them, if we don’t protect them.

When it comes to data, especially big data, protecting them is the first thing we should consider. How do we do that? We should be aware of how we can recover data in case something happens to our computers.

While we can do our own little way to recover data, big data recovery should be left to the experts at When it comes to big data recovery, the experts know better.

The following post Data Analysis Vs. Data Visualization: What’s The Difference? was originally published to Hard Drive Recovery Group


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