In a phone interview with ZDNet Asia last week, Bill Margeson, president and chief executive officer of CBL Data Recovery Technologies said that the first thing users should do is stay calm.
Users, he added, should "keep a clear head and look at what resources they have around them".
"You never know until you have a look at things", he said.
Look around for a backup, and often, there is a "backup that might be from last week"--which is "better than nothing", Margeson said.
Margeson recommends the good practice of taking the "distressed device from the bad computer to a completely new computer and install it there", so as to uncover the cause of the system's problem.
This is to "take [the problem] from an unknown to a known situation", and to "use the power of a known good motherboard, a known good power supply, a known good controller, and a known good operating system to interrogate the problem once again", he explained.
"Often times, that [practice] will bring the device back to life," said Margeson, who is also the co-founder of the Markham, Ontario-based company.
According to Margeson, the practice of taking the distressed device to a second machine and using "the goodness of the second machine to get around the problem" is to confirm and prove that the problem of data loss is "disk drive-centric".
He added that the disk drive may not even be the cause of the machine's failure to boot-up, and instead, could be due to other factors such as a motherboard problem or a broken keyboard.
"Hence the good practice [of] taking it to a second known good [computer]," Margeson explained.
However, if the user has taken the distressed device to the second machine, and the data is still unrecoverable, it is time to call the professionals, he advised.
The 'click-click' symptom
New noises are also an indicator of physical problems, and an example is the 'click of death'--as it is known on the Internet--which is when the "disk drive exhibits a 'click-click', 'click-click' symptom", Margeson noted.
He advised users, who have "transplanted the distressed drive" in another computer, to observe what is going on. If they find that the device is making noises, he recommended that they power down the device and send it to a professional.
However, if the device is working fine, but the data is not available, the user may wish to use the restore features to recover the data, Margeson said, adding that "it won't make matters worse".
However, Margeson noted, "there [is] no software in the world that can fix a hardware problem".
Data storage initiatives including backup and recovery are a major concern of small and mid-sized businesses (SMBs) which are investing money into shoring up their business continuity and disaster recovery plans.
In October, CBL launched a new service to help Hewlett Packard customers recover data from their HP server, notebook, PC, or even HP digital camera when the data becomes inaccessible.