WHAT: Kroll Ontrack is offering free data recovery evaluations for all desktops, laptops and USBs affected by Hurricane Irene, which distressed areas across the Eastern Seaboard and has left millions without power just days after a magnitude 5.8 in Virginia caused damage in the same areas. Data recoveries from these devices are available for a discounted, flat fee of $850. Kroll Ontrack is also offering a discounted rate on all servers, tapes and other methods of storage affected by the hurricane. These offers run through Oct. 31, 2011.

WHY: Valuable information is stored on business and personal computers and laptops – critical financial information, irreplaceable and sentimental photos, videos, music, tax forms, contact lists, and passwords. In fact, experts predict that 99 percent of all information is now stored electronically and much of this information is not backed-up. This fact is reinforced by the increase in the number of jobs Kroll Ontrack receives following a natural disasters.

“Heavy storms causing rolling blackouts and power outages are significant causes of data loss, and damage to personal property during severe weather can be devastating,” said Todd Johnson, vice president of operations, Kroll Ontrack. “While most possessions can be replaced and are usually covered by insurance, the same cannot be said for digital data.”

The extent of damage to digital files and information stored on hard drives will remain unknown until power is restored. Fortunately, the majority of digital data can be recovered from water-damaged or power-affected drives with the help of data recovery software and or services.

WHERE: For businesses affected by the storm, there are local labs located in Secaucus, N.J. and Reston, Va.

For more information on this offer, consumers can contact Kroll Ontrack at 800-872-2599; or online at www.krollontrack.com.

TIPS: Kroll Ontrack also recommends that victims fearing loss of their vital information consider the following before assuming that the damage is permanent:

  • Never assume that data is unrecoverable, no matter what it has been through.
  • Do not shake, disassemble or attempt to clean any hard drive or server that has been damaged – improper handling can make recovery operations more difficult which can lead to valuable information being lost.
  • Never attempt to dry water-damaged media by opening it or exposing it to heat – such as that from a hairdryer.
  • Do not attempt to operate visibly damaged devices.
  • Do not attempt to freeze-dry media.
  • Do not use common software utility programs on broken or water-damaged devices.
  • If you are dealing with large servers, make sure they have adequate air conditioning. Increases in computer processor speed have resulted in more power requirements, which in turn require better cooling -especially important during the summer months.
  • Invest in some form of Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS), which uses batteries to keep computers running during power outages. UPS systems also help manage an orderly shutdown of the computer – unexpected shutdowns from power surge problems can cause data loss.
  • Check protection devices regularly: At least once a year you should inspect your power protection devices to make sure that they are functioning properly. Most good ones will have a signaling \ light to tell you when they are protecting your equipment properly.
  • For mission critical situations, contact a data recovery professional before any attempts are made to reconfigure, reinstall or reformat.