Bushfires Pose A Major Threat To Hard Drives

Bushfire season has well and truly kicked off in Australia. The big technology lesson to remember? Make sure you’ve got a good backup strategy in place that includes both physical and offline options — while drive recovery techniques are impressive these days, bushfires represent one of the most challenging scenarios, since they can literally melt your hard drive.

Picture by idan586

I was chatting yesterday with Adrian Briscoe, general manager APAC for data recovery specialist Kroll Ontrack, and he highlighted that the extreme conditions involved in a bushfire often mean that data recovery is virtually impossible:

Bushfire is a difficult one, because they literally just melt. Server room fires are OK, because things just smoulder, but bushfires just tend to be too hot. We received two laptops from a post office near the centre of the fire that were actually in a fireproof safe, but the cases of the laptops were fused together because it was so hot inside the safe. It was just like being in an oven.

At the other end of the spectrum, if you’re a victim of flooding, don’t try and dry any damaged drives, since it can do more harm than good. Again, protection strategies have their limits:

This year in Queensland, we had people with waterproof safes, but they found that if you had five metres of water, water actually still gets in. As soon as you have any pressure, it’s a problem. And we had a recovery in Christchurch where someone put a tape on top of the waterproof safe, then the earthquake hit and the tape dropped in the water, which of course had mud and grit. Though that one was a full recovery.

Data recovery is an expensive operation, so data recovery insurance is also worth considering. Briscoe also predicted that there might be a rise in attempted recoveries because people are continuing to use older drives due to the recent price rises caused by the Thailand floods. So make sure you’ve got an effective, multi-pronged backup strategy.

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