The Ambassadors Wife and The Missing Laptop

September 28, 2007

I just heard the wife of the Pakistani ambassador to Ireland on the radio, talking about her laptop which was stolen from her apartment last week. She’s very keen to get it back, not because of the laptop, but because of the data that was on it. Personal information, photos, information realting to a scholarship scheme she’s putting in place. All gone. She was willing to buy back the laptop and not press any charges if she can just retrieve the data.

All of which goes to illustrate once again, that it’s not the computer equipment that is of real value, it’s data. I’m sure whoever took the laptop is planning to wipe all the info off it and sell it for a quick killing. They probably have no interest in what’s stored on it. The moral of the story is backup, backup, backup!


IT Superhero to the rescue

February 21, 2007

I wrote last week about problems recovering deleted files, and got a comment with a couple of suggestions.

Well the good news is, I tried one of them and managed to recover a load of files for my client. She’s delighted to have got back 2.5 years work, and I’m being showered with praise. 

The tool I used was recover4all pro, ($69), and it’s a really simple tool to use. You just download the demo, run it and see what’s recoverable. There are no guarantees at this stage that you will get everything back, but at least you get an indication of what might be recovered. If it finds what you want, you can register online, pay the purchase price and receive an email with the product key. Type it into the program and it will enable the recovery options. Then you just specify where you want to restore to and away you go.

Obviously if you recover to the same drive it could potentially overwrite the files you are trying to get back, so use a different drive. I mapped in a network drive and it worked like a dream.

So many thanks to Lee, (aka Darkan9el) for the tip.

PS The fact that there are tools like this out there shouldn’t make anyone think backups are any less important. I have one very relieved client who certainly appreciates the how critical it is to backup properly.

Recovering Deleted Files – The Outcome

February 13, 2007

Well, I went to my client site today armed with a couple of software tools to try to recover the deleted folders and files. Unfortunately, I was unable to get them back.

There are a couple of reasons for this, (and lessons to be learned for next time this type of thing happens).  

Firstly, some of the files had been recovered from the tape backup. This was great to have but restoring the files to the same drive that they had been deleted from considerably reduced the likelihood of recovering the ones that the backup hadn’t got.

Secondly, the server had been rebooted before the recovery tools were run. Again, this goes against recommended practice. The process of shutting down and restarting the computer will write files to disk and increase the likelihood of the “deleted” files being overwritten.

And thirdly, it’s much easier to recover files from a proper backup than trying to use these tools to “undelete” them.

It is possible that the files and folders are still recoverable, but I think at this stage it would take an awful lot of time, effort and of course money to do it, so it’s probably not worth it. However, as I’ve said before, this is not my area of expertise so if anyone knows of a cheap and easy way to get them back I’d love to hear it.

Recovering deleted files that were Not backed up

February 12, 2007

I mentioned last week about how important backups are, because I have a client who has lost almost 3 years work when someone decided to do a “tidy-up” job on the server.

Well, unfortunately for my client, they hadn’t got all their data backed up. I ran a restore job and recovered a lot of the missing data, but they are still missing some important files and folders.

Tomorrow I’m heading in with some data recover tools to see if we can “un-delete” these files, but I’ve never used these products before. My message to the client was that this is a long shot but we’ll give it a go and see how we get on.

Tune in tomorrow to see how we get on. Same Bat-time. Same Bat-channel.

BTW the two products I’m trying are File Scavenger 3.1 and Stellar Phoenix (FAT & NTFS) 2.1

No 1 most critical tool for protecting your computer?

February 8, 2007

Maybe I’m biased here because I just got a panic call from someone who’s lost a whole load of critical information, but…surely the most important security tool is not anti-virus software, or firewalls, or anti-spyware. It’s got to be backups.

There are any number of threats out there, and any number of technologies available to protect you from them, but at the end of the day, the warm cozy feeling of knowing that no matter what happens, all your critical data is nicely secured offsite is priceless.

That’s not to say you don’t need all the other stuff. Anyone who doesn’t have proper virus protection and a decent firewall in place nowadays is just crazy. But even with all these measures in place, bad stuff can still happen. Properly implemented and properly executed backups are the magic wand that will save the day and leave you looking like a hero. (The downside is that poorly implemented backups, that have missed out on some key information, or that haven’t been checked,  could cost you your job, so make sure you get it right.)

Best Free Stuff

January 22, 2007

People are forever asking me whether their anti-virus or desktop firewall software is any good. Obviously I have my own preferences, and I tend to use a combination of different vendors products, but I’ve put together a list of the ones I think are the best, sorted by category. Many of these products are free for home use, or for a 60day evaluation, so use them and then decide for yourself whether they work for you.

As I said, this is my list of favorites, but I’m always interested to hear other peoples opinions, so if you have a product you think belongs on the list let me know.

The full list is available on, and it covers anti-virus, spyware protection, desktop firewalls, spam filters and desktop backups.