Your computer’s data is at risk. Whether you use a Mac or a PC, viruses, power surges, hackers, human error, natural disasters, hardware failures, and more are real everyday threats. To keep your data safe and sound, you will first need to back up your files on a regular basis. Secondly, when hard drive failure does occur, data recovery is the only solution.

Of course it is ideal to back up data and avoid the complicated process that is data recovery altogether, but even when you take the necessary steps to prepare for hard drive damage, you might run into problems.

Here are some procedures to follow if you experience trouble.

If a program is not functioning well on your computer, turn the computer off! This may seem a simple task, but shutting down a computer at the moment you notice your hard drive to be working overtime – perhaps you hear unusual sounds (like “cleaning”) – can prevent damage to the disk and data loss. If you let a failed hard drive run, it will eventually self-destruct. Damage to your disk is inevitable in this scenario.

If this is the case, unless you know exactly what you’re doing, don’t fix your computer yourself. Professional expertise is not a luxury in this situation – it is a must. Data recovery is a difficult and sensitive process requiring special tools and a clean environment. Not only will it be tremendously challenging to repair a hard drive on your own, but you might actually make matters worse and ensure irreversible data loss.

There is “do-it-yourself” data recovery software, but be cautious of things like this. With most computer problems of this nature, at-home instructions can be more dangerous than useful. Even if a company boasts that its products and instructions will handle your vulnerable data properly, it is important to be a skeptical consumer.

A local service provider is the average solution. Repair can happen on your own premises and you can be assured that your computer is in good hands. However, there is always the possibility that your hard drive is beyond repair – even for expert technicians – so be prepared to buy a new hard drive altogether; data recovery may not be an option any more.