Data Centers

Easier file recovery with Undelete Pro

Derek Schauland offers an overview of the Undelete Pro file recovery tool that could offer an extra layer of protection to data that is mistakenly deleted.

Keeping files that are no longer needed cleaned off of your computer is all but a must given the number of files, documents, downloads and other things that are processed in a given day. Deleting files and emptying the recycle bin regularly is great for freeing up disk space, but sometimes users are a little too eager to get rid of unwanted files, only to desperately need to retrieve them later. And we've all managed to mistakenly delete files

Windows 8 and earlier versions of Windows support the recovery of previous versions of files and folders, which can help with changes lost due to a crash or missing files since a last save, but for some recovery situations, you might need a few more options. Condusiv has released a new version of Undelete Pro that helps to solve the issue of deleting files that must be retrieved in their original state.

How does the application work?

Undelete Pro is designed for business use and can recover files from network locations as well as the local computer. It does this by using its own iteration of the Windows Recycle Bin and a filter driver that redirects deleted files to the recovery bin. Any deleted files are redirected, which can allow for some pretty decent recovery options. This includes files deleted from network shares, command line deleted files, and files deleted when existing versions of an office document are overwritten. The idea that a simple save/replacement of an office document can be recovered is great.

Recovering files

To get started, open the Undelete Recovery bin application and tap or click Yes when prompted for UAC.

The Undelete application window opens and the Filter selection dialog appears (Figure A) to allow you to select the drives that should be scanned and any file type filtering that might need to be done.

Figure A

Filter your search

The available options for filtering are:

  • Select Drives - specify the disks to search for files
  • Search all files - search for any file types
  • Specify Search Parameters
    • Select a time - specify the time window for the search: None, Last 24 Hours, Last 7 Days
    • Specify Application - Choose the application that created the file: None, A Microsoft Word Document, a Microsoft Excel Document, a Microsoft PowerPoint Document
    • Filename - specify all or part of the file name to search for

After configuring the filter settings, tap or click OK. The search based on the filter selections will begin as soon as the settings are saved.

In the center pane (Figure B), the list of found files is displayed.

Figure B

Found files

Tap or click the files you want to work with in the list to select them. The selected files are then shown in the bottom of the window along with the details of the file(s):

Figure C

Selected file details

Once files have been selected, select the location options for restoration by choosing to restore the file(s) to the original location or to somewhere else. Another option available for the restoration is to open the file after it is restored.

Figure D

Options following the restoration of files

Other options available in Undelete Pro

Selecting the menu in the top left corner of the main window displays the following options:

  • Recover Files - use this option to clear the window and restart the search process
  • Dig Deeper - search for files that might exist in the free space on the selected drive
  • Change Settings - modify additional program settings in Undelete
  • Connect to Network Share - specify a network share and credentials to search other resources
  • Help - Display documentation for Undelete Pro
  • Check for Updates - connect to the Internet for updates to the applications
  • Register - register Undelete with Condusiv
  • About - Display the version information

The Change Settings dialog is shown below:

Figure E

Additional application settings

The settings that can be modified include changing the location of the recovery bin, which defaults to individual drives but can be consolidated in to a single location. On each detected disk, you can set the size of the recovery bin and the number of days that files will be kept before being removed.

Additionally, Undelete can be configured to securely delete files. Using this option skips the recovery bin and erases the files completely, disallowing their recovery.

Digging deeper

The Dig Deeper features of Undelete gives you the ability to search the free space on a disk for lost files. In the event that an area of a disk has been zeroed or erased, there may still be information there even though its contents have been removed. Undelete will find the files there and allow them to be recovered.

Figure F shows the search options for the Dig Deeper feature.

Figure F

Searching the free space for lost files

What does Undelete Pro cost?

The pricing for Undelete Pro is available here. The online cost is $59.99 per license of the application. Condusiv does offer volume discounts; for details about that pricing you will need to request a quote online.

Use case examples

Reduce help desk calls for file recovery

When a co-worker misplaces a file or folder full of information they need, this can be catastrophic. Likely calls to the help desk to locate the last copy of the file that was backed up can be expected. The problem here is that backups are usually taken during non-business hours, which may or may not be recent enough. If the person who needs the document has made significant changes to the file since the last backup and needs to recover it, these changes will be lost as they did not exist when the backup was performed. The next problem here has to do with restoration. If the IT staff needs to spend a lot of time configuring and restoring the files that went missing in one or two cases, the cost of the restore could be counterproductive to the organization.

Undelete would allow the person needing the recovery to view files that were deleted and choose the files to restore. They can be restored to their original locations or to another place on the disk in the event that the existing copy still holds value for that person.

Remove the need to keep files in the recycle bin

I have worked with many people who for one reason or another do not like to empty the recycle bin on their computer because there might be something in there that they need. I am guilty of this to a point, in that I tend to let things pile up for a while before emptying the folder, but I do not keep files in there for later use.

Since the file is in the recycle bin, but hasn't been removed yet, the idea is that it is out of the way and has been deleted. Undelete can decrease this type of behavior by allowing people to recover files they have removed from their recycle bins.

Bottom line

Having used Undelete Pro to get an understanding of the application for this review, I think the cost is minimal enough that it isn't a barrier to entry. The knowledge that files are recoverable even after deleting them is a real stress reducer. Being able to be more liberal with file removal, but knowing I can go get things if I need them down the road is great. I would still encourage files to be stored on the network where they can be backed up and retrieved in the event of disaster, but for those cases where the missing file is of immediate importance Undelete Pro could be a real gem to have installed. For me personally, the product might have saved a considerable amount of work on a recent project.

About

Derek Schauland has been tinkering with Windows systems since 1997. He has supported Windows NT 4, worked phone support for an ISP, and is currently the IT Manager for a manufacturing company in Wisconsin.

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