Data Recovery vs Computer Forensics: How Do They Stack Up?

Both data recovery and computer forensics deal with digital data. However, computer forensics is a broader field and it would be right to say that data recovery is a part of computer forensics. Most people think that after formatting their hard drives, the data is gone. But this is not the case. A data recovery specialist or a computer forensics examiner can recover the data. For people who don’t have an idea about these two fields, we will delve a little deeper into data recovery and computer forensics to help them understand better.

Data Recovery

This is the process of recovering data from a hard disk. The disk may have been damaged or formatted. Using special tools and equipment, a data recovery expert can identify 3 types of data which are active data, latent data, and archival data. Active data are files that can be seen by your OS while archival data are encrypted files stored in backups. Both active data and archival data can be recovered easily and stored in a recovery device. On the other hand, latent data are the files that have been deleted or files in a disk that has been formatted. Even though latent data may be tricky to recover, specialists use special tools to restore them to their active state then transfer them to a recovery storage device.

Computer Forensics

This field involves an in-depth analysis of the data on the hard drive. Computer forensics involves recovering the lost information, determining how the data was lost, the time it was lost and the people involved. After retrieving the data, computer forensic experts will catalog all active, latent and archival data. This includes deleted, hidden, encrypted and password-protected files. To determine how the data was lost, the expert may examine the servers, firewalls and other relevant areas. This field is mostly used by the military, intelligence and law enforcement agencies, as well as businesses. Computer forensics experts can identify rogue contractors or employees who are leaking sensitive information such as customer data and company plans.

Computer forensics and data recovery have become an essential part of defense forces, law enforcement agencies, companies, and large institutions because they all deal with data. A combination of these two fields can help recreate events which led to the loss of vital organizational data.