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Data recovery refers to the salvaging or securing of data from failed or compromised hardware systems. In data forensics and espionage, the term refers to techniques for obtaining "hard to get" data, usually during hardware or system failures, or when system data has been erased.
In the general data recovery category, a few different types of techniques are applied to specific scenarios. Hardware data recovery techniques work on situations where a system failure prevents easy access to a hard drive. With more sophisticated hardware, this problem is easily solved. Another type of data recovery technique applies to disk level failure, where more elaborate approaches may be required. Other types of data recovery pertain to data that has been deleted and possibly overwritten, where data recovery involves specific manipulation of the bits recorded on a drive.
Certain key data recovery techniques that apply to disk failures and other scenarios are sometimes called in-place repair and read-only data recovery. The first type of approach uses utilities and other resources to try to fix disk errors. A read-only approach creates a copy of a drive, where data can be extracted. In another approach, professionals may try to physically repair a failed disk with replacement parts.
A key to understanding data recovery is to look at the difference between older magnetic drive mediums and new solid-state drives, which record data in different ways.