Many companies assume that simply by implementing a RAID array their data will be safe. According to Phil Bridge, managing director, Kroll Ontrack this can be a very costly assumption to make.

Legislation means that the amount of data companies are required to store is increasing at an alarming rate. Many employ RAID systems to manage their storage needs, protect their data and help avoid unnecessary downtime.

RAID (redundant array of independent disks) is often used to house financial and key business information. Whilst effective systems, they are not completely infallible.

Such systems are good for data protection as they enable data to be written to multiple hard disk drives, consequently increasing the system's fault tolerance. However, RAID systems are still susceptible to total system failure, making data inaccessible if multiple drives experience problems at the same time.

Other problems can occur when RAID controllers do not recognise the drives in the array or if a drive is removed from a hot swappable drive bay and a new one is replaced in the wrong order.

This creates the same problem as a single hard drive failure but on a much bigger scale. The data saved on the RAID array can be business critical, inaccessibility due to system failure could therefore cripple an organisation.

A popular misconception is that there is no chance of recovering lost data from such a system. All is not lost though and businesses need to realise there is a good chance of recovery if the correct steps are taken.

The answer to the problem is to make sure that RAID recovery experts collaborate with other data recovery specialists to have the best chance of saving critical information.

Often, IT staff will attempt to fix the system by relying solely on the original RAID configuration, by documented administrative procedures, or they will try to force a particular configuration that often results in causing a greater level of damage.

The system should be repaired manually, rather than attempting a repair using the original configuration and possibly repeating previous mistakes. Distributed data blocks, drive order and data symmetry need to be re-built manually - ensuring the best chance of successful recovery.

To cut the amount of downtime suffered as a result of a RAID failure, it is now possible to reconstruct the system virtually via an internet connection, ensuring the fastest possible recovery time for critical data. Often the company is fully functional again within a matter of hours.

It is crucial to turn to a company that has extensive experience in RAID recovery to ensure the best chance of re-instating critical data. An advantage of this is also that experts can recover the most recent files as opposed to the most recent backups. This is crucial as RAID systems often store the highest value data.

It is therefore critical not to give up at the first hurdle when experiencing a RAID failure as this may result in the unnecessary end of a business.