Basic Data Recovery
Let’s start simple.
Let’s start by looking at a common situation where you may need data recovered.
The most common and what you have certainly experienced is simply deleting a file you should not have. We have all done it, and we will all do it again. So, on Windows this is an easy one, just restore it from the Recycle bin. Similarly on Mac OSX you can restore it from the Trash. It’s something of a safeguard against the all too common accidents.
What if you have already emptied the trash? This is where you start to get into some real, but basic, Data Recovery. There are many software solutions for this crisis, some free, most not. You simply run the software and hopefully retrieve the file from the results. It is worth noting that, the more the hard drive gets used from the point the file is deleted, the less likely a successful data recovery is. So, don’t wait.
Some software worthy of note:
Piriform Recuva – Windows – Free and simple. Just download, run, and hope for the best. Very few settings to tweak, but it is meant for the casual user, not a Data Recovery Professional.
Recover My Files – Windows – Just as easy to use, but also has many settings to really pinpoint what you are looking for. Available as free version, but only to view the files. In order to recover them you will have to pay for a software license.
Prosoft Data Rescue – Mac OSX – This one is great for Apple data recovery, but does not fair so well on Windows hard drives. It has a simple and advanced mode. The simple mode is very simple, and the advanced mode can get very, very advanced. This one is most certainly not free, but if you know what you are doing, pick up a copy. Nothing else compares for Apple Data Recovery.
Now for one most people overlook, that can be more effective than any of the above listed.
System Restore. Built into windows and runs before any major updates, software installs, and even just regularly on a schedule. Now, System restore on it’s own is not great for data recovery. It merely attempts to restore the entire system to an earlier date. This is often not what you want when all you need is one or 2 files. It is also known to fail in its restoration and leave the operating system in an unusable state.
So why i am talking about this? Because of an excellent piece of software that leverages System Restore in a way never intended.
System Restore Explorer – Windows – This free software allows you to mount any restore point from any data and simple browse through the files. This way you can pick out only the files you need and restore those. It is quite easy to use, and generally very effective. It may not be the first choice for a restoring a deleted file, because there is a lot of manual searching involved, but it can be the best choice in the end.
Now, keep in mind, this is possibly the simplest form of data recovery, and certainly not where you have to stop when trying to recover files.
Check back for several more articles going deeper and deeper into Data Recovery Techniques in the ongoing series