Losing data from a hard drive can result in years worth of work being lost in an instant. Thankfully, there is a spate of hard drive recovery tools to restore data. This article looks at three entry-level options, two of which are free, to establish how useful they can be.
Hard drive recovery tools basically allow you to see into the disk drives and browse the file system (including deleted files). If a drive has become corrupted then a data recovery scan may well be able to identify healthy files on the system. Likewise, a formatted drive may fail to completely wipe all data that was on the disk so a scan can still recover files on the system (the one exception to this is when the formatting process overwrites all drive segments with files full of random content).
- TestDisk (freeware): If all you want to do is browse and recover files then this basic tool could be all you need. The user interface is basic (to put it mildly) but the scan and data recovery works well.
- PhotoRec (freeware): Made by the same team behind TestDisk, this is a Flash application that originally started out targeting photographers who wanted to recover image file formats from off of their Flash memory cards. Given the Flash memory shares the same FAT formatting as internal/external drives means this nice looking utility works well for regular hard drive recovery too.
- Remo Undelete (commercial): Undelete is a good solid data recovery tool for use in external and internal hard drive recovery. Deleted and lost files are quickly located and are easily copied over to several locations (drives/floppy disks/CDs/DVDs).
The one thing to note about these low cost and free tools is that they will not repair your drive if it has become corrupted. You really need to look to tools like Reimage PC Repair if your drive is in a poor state.