Firms are being advised to take a "golden hour" before deciding what to do when recovering data from computer hardware.
Most avoidable data damage occurs in the first 60 minutes after a computer failure, as users attempt to open the casing, unsafely remove hardware, or tamper with small but essential components, said Ontrack Data Recovery.
In many cases, said Ontrack, this "data recovery do-it-yourself" can prove fatal and render vital data irrecoverable. It can also cost companies dear in terms of lost revenues and man-hours spent replicating the information - if this is even possible.
The "golden hour" time out is therefore vital, as people often panic when trying to rectify data damage, rather than thinking about the situation logically.
Robert Winter, chief engineer of data recovery at Kroll Ontrack, said, "Sometimes the casing has been opened and exposed to the elements, or dropped before it is sent to us or while in transit. Other common mistakes include drying out wet equipment on a radiator or cooling down over-heated hardware in a freezer, neither of which are successful ways of recovering data."
Winter said firms should instead leave a device alone, assess how valuable the information contained on the media is, then make an informed decision as to whether the best course of action is to send it away for recovery, or download specialist tools to ensure the best chance of success.