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What Does a Data Recovery Specialist Do?

By Benjamin Arie
Updated May 17, 2024
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The job of a data recovery specialist is to restore information that is lost from a computer system. These technical experts must physically repair hard drives or other storage devices, and use special software programs to interpret corrupt data. Some data recovery specialists work for large corporations, while others provide technical services to small businesses.

Electronic information is stored in many different ways. Most desktop and laptop computers use hard drives, which consist of spinning disks within a sealed housing. Tablet computers and smartphones often use solid-state storage devices, including “flash” memory. Like all pieces of technology, these storage devices can become damaged.

Data recovery specialists employ several methods to locate and save information from a damaged drive. Professionals often use “clean rooms” to carefully open a sealed drive enclosure and repair the internal parts. A clean room used by a recovery specialist is designed to prevent static charges or physical dust from corrupting exposed data sectors while they are being repaired.

Experts in the data recovery field also use software tools to virtually reconstruct missing information. Specialists use these tools to determine which parts of a file are corrupt. Technicians analyze patterns within files, and make logical predictions about which data is needed to rebuild these damaged file areas.

A data recovery specialist must have a high level of patience and strong scientific reasoning skills. Specialists must consider which exact steps will be the most effective for recovering data, and must methodically follow proper procedures to avoid losing data. Rushing or taking shortcuts in this occupation can cause delicate information to be lost forever.

A specific education or degree is usually not required for individuals who wish to work as data recovery specialists. Some professionals study information technology (IT) at a college or trade school, while others learn through hands-on experience. Many workers in this field do not focus on data recovery immediately, but first gain a wide range of technological skills in the general computer repair industry.

Many technology schools offer specialized seminars for recovery specialists. This training is often conducted over the course of several days. During a recovery training program, IT professionals practice different methods of extracting data from damaged drives. These courses allow students to gain experience using a variety of recovery tools in a clean room. Courses and seminars often provide workers with the initial training necessary to enter the recovery profession, or allow specialists to expand their knowledge of new data retrieval techniques.

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