MINNEAPOLIS — Ontrack has a long history of recovering data for victims of global disasters, including Hurricane Katrina, bushfires in Australia, and others. Due to the “apocalyptic” wildfires that have been burning through the U.S. since mid-August, thousands of buildings and entire towns have been destroyed. Ontrack has advice on how victims can recover data from computers, hard drives, servers, and mobile devices that have been damaged in the fires to help rebuild businesses and family memories.

"As the wildfires continue to rage, our hearts go out to those in the affected areas,” said Phil Bridge, president of Ontrack. “Insurance may assist in helping to rebuild structures and replace physical possessions, but the loss of digital files, such as family photos, financial records, and critical business data, can be devastating as well. We hope that by following our advice, those impacted will increase the likelihood of successful data recovery, meaning you could be reunited with your treasured data much sooner than you thought."

Below are eight tips from Ontrack experts.

  1. If your device has suffered fire or water damage, contact a professional data recovery provider as soon as possible.
  2. Never assume that data is unrecoverable, no matter the state of the device.
  3. Do not use data recovery software to attempt recovery on a physically damaged hard drive. Data recovery software is designed for use on a fully functional drive.
  4. Do not plug in or switch on any visibly damaged devices.
  5. Do not disassemble any hard drive or server that has been damaged — improper handling can make recovery operations more difficult, which can lead to valuable information being permanently lost.
  6. If a computer has suffered fire damage, do not try to remove the hard drive — ship the entire computer to a data recovery provider.
  7. Only restore backups to a functional computer system with ample drive capacity.
  8. For mission critical situations, contact a data recovery provider before any attempts are made to reconfigure, reinstall, or reformat.

Ontrack offers free shipping and evaluations for your fire-damaged device. For futureproofing the data infrastructure of your business against disaster, Ontrack has provided a free Disaster Recovery Plan template for anyone to use.