Optical disks are great for taking backups of data regularly. However, like any other storage device, a DVD too is prone to losing your data unexpectedly due to a variety of reasons.
Reasons for Data Loss
Data can be lost from DVDs due to hardware or software errors. The problem with DVDs, for all their advantages, is that their data-recording surface is exposed to the elements and not shielded. This is in contrast to devices such as USB drives, tape drives and hard disks where such surface is protected by a plastic or metal casing. This poses many challenges for the user. The biggest one is to keep the DVD's recording surface clean and spic and span.
Since all data resides on the disk surface, it is essential that it be kept as free from contamination as possible. Otherwise, the laser emitted by the read / write head will not be able to read the data pattern properly. The exposed DVD surface is most often dirtied by finger prints as the users carelessly pick up the disk. Then there are oily smudges that accrue when the DVD surface gets spilt over with some viscous liquid. Even worse than finger prints and smudges are scratches which make the laser bounce off the disk surface back to the lens incorrectly. Hardware damage due to exposure of the disk to excessive heat is another reason why data may get lost from a DVD.
Apart from hardware errors, there are many software errors due to which people may lose their critical files from a DVD. Most of these errors are user-inflicted, the most common being accidental deletion of files. Many individuals reformat their DVD before realising that there was some important data residing on it. With the rising popularity of the Internet, many viruses and other nasties such as Trojans and worms manage to gain illegal entry into computer systems. From there, they copy themselves onto DVDs and infect files, leading to data loss. In many cases, the data structure of files may get corrupted because of which they cannot be opened by the user.
Recovering the Data
Data loss from DVDs is a major problem because the critical files residing on the disk cannot be accessed. The first priority for a victim of data loss is to get the missing files back as soon as possible without incurring a huge expense so as to minimise the consequences. The easiest and quickest way available to users to recover the DVD data is by using a Do It Yourself (DIY) recovery software. Many companies today offer this software online that you can purchase from their websites and download to your computer. You then just have to follow the simple instructions to extract the missing files.
However, there are dozens of DIY recovery software out there vying for your attention and money. Most users are quite confused as to which one to go for and usually rely on sales pitch and inflated performance claims given on the websites. However, to take a correct decision, you have to keep many things in mind and look for certain features in the recovery software.
DVDs can be formatted in many ways, one of which enables them to use "drag and drop" feature of the Windows operating system. With these, you can drag and drop any file from your computer to the DVD or delete it using the right mouse button. When you purchase a DIY software, it is important to find out if it supports recovery from DVDs formatted this way.
Many people use DVDs for archiving data for a long period of time. To cram the maximum number of files on the disk, these are often zipped and compressed to make them smaller in size. The recovery software you choose should have the ability to recover zipped files. Also, it should be able to extract files that you have deleted from the disk. Some DIY software even have the capability of recovering data from DVDs that have been reformatted, and you should chose them if they are available.
DVDs come in many sizes. Those used in digital cameras and music systems are smaller in size. You have to ensure that these can be processed by the DIY recovery software before you shell out the money. Another important thing is that it should be able to give you access to the DVD bypassing the operating system.
If the DVD suffers from a severe hardware error, then the DIY software would be of no use. You will have to take the disk to a professional data recovery company.