Storage

Five data recovery apps that could make you a hero

When you get a panicked call from someone whose hard disk has crashed (with precious files that weren't backed up), one of these apps might save the day.

As IT pros, we all get those occasional phone calls from friends and family who want us to save their data after a hard drive crash. Since backups are usually nonexistent in those situations, I thought I would take the opportunity to talk about a few of the data recovery utilities that are available.

Note: This list is also available as a photo gallery.

1: VirtualLab Data Recovery

VirtualLab Data Recovery (Figure A), which sells for $39.95, is designed to be an all-purpose data recovery utility. Besides supporting the usual FAT, FAT-32, and NTFS file systems, it supports Mac HFS / HFS+ and even NFS. In addition, it supports data recovery on devices such as USB flash drives and camera memory cards. In my opinion, its most useful feature is the ability to make a sector-by-sector copy of a failing hard drive. This allows you to focus on the recovery process without having to worry about the hard drive degrading further or failing completely in the middle of your recovery efforts.

Figure A

VirtualLab Data Recovery

2: File Scavenger - Data Recovery Utility

File Scavenger - Data Recovery Utility (Figure B) is another tool for recovering lost data. Like most disk repair utilities, File Scavenger (which sells for $49.95) can retrieve data from corrupt volumes. However, the tool's main emphasis is on recovering data that was deleted accidentally. This includes data residing on partitions that have been deleted or on disks that have been reformatted.

Figure B

File Scavenger - Data Recovery Utility

3: BootSuite 2012

BootSuite 2012 from Spotmau (Figure C) is much more than just a disk repair utility. The utility, which retails for $99.95, does have a "super data rescue package," but that's just one of its eight primary features. The utility is also designed to fix boot problems, recover from blue screen errors, and reset lost Windows passwords. The company also offers a premium version called PowerSuite Golden 2012 for $150.95, which can even find your Windows and Microsoft Office product keys.

Figure C

BootSuite 2012

4: Recover My Files

Recover My Files (Figure D) is a basic disk recovery utility. However, its niche is file recovery. Recover My Files is designed to recognize more than 200 file formats. So it can look at the fragments of data that remain on a corrupt volume and use file signature data to recognize things like Word documents and JPEG images.

Figure D

Recover My Files

Recover My Files offers three versions of its software, ranging in price from $69.99 to $299.99. The lower-end version is designed for small office or home users, while the more expensive version is geared toward pros who recover data on a regular basis.

5: Kernel Data Recovery

Kernel Data Recovery offers a basic Windows Data Recovery tool (Figure E) that can recover missing, deleted, lost, and inaccessible data from FAT and NTFS volumes. It sells for $69.00. While there is nothing particularly noteworthy about this tool, the thing that caught my attention was the variety of recovery products the company offers.

Figure E

Windows Data Recovery tool

There have been plenty of occasions when someone has asked me to recover a failed hard drive, but they're usually more interested in getting back a specific type of data (their pictures, spreadsheets, etc.). Kernel Data Recovery offers a number of niche products that are geared for specific types of data recovery. For example, there are tools for recovering email messages, corrupt PDF files, and corrupt OpenOffice documents. There is even a utility for repairing corrupt backups.

Other choices?

Do you have a favorite data recovery tool? Share your recommendations with fellow TechRepublic members.

About

Brien Posey is a seven-time Microsoft MVP. He has written thousands of articles and written or contributed to dozens of books on a variety of IT subjects.

54 comments
shirleythomas533
shirleythomas533

Kernel Data Recovery Software is best data recovery software. I did try this software and I got my corrupt data in few time. Software is more simple to use. Before purchasing you can download free trial version.

Read more about this software from - http://www.windows.recoverdeletedfiles.org/

TomaKorey42
TomaKorey42

Virtuallab data recovery tool is the best for me.

gregglabbe
gregglabbe

tried the VirtualLab's tool.its nice

MaryBoggs
MaryBoggs

Im using the Virtualab since they have a free data retrieval software that we had deleted on our mac , free 1 gig retrieval of data is a lot ..and works too on any windows OS you had.Glad that i found the one im using on a top 5 list. for those who needs to recover their data on pc/phone here's the link:

https://datarecoverysoftware.net/free-data-recovery-software-mac.html

amanoduarte
amanoduarte

I have used Kernel Data Recovery software to recover lost data from my PC, It works instantly.

Thanks Brien Posey

bobbymiles698
bobbymiles698

Virtuallab worked fine! The recovered files were in their correct folders. Even files that I had deleted long ago were recovered. I have to say that VirtualLab Data Recovery is simply amazing; more than I would expect for the money spent. https://binarybiz.com/

MichaelSteverson
MichaelSteverson

I have been using FileRecovery from LC-Tech.com. Works great and got my files back.

ManlyElectronics
ManlyElectronics

I've just paid for TechRepublic subscription. Shocking "accuracy" of this spam article makes me wonder was it worth it and is worth reading TechRepublic at all.

oliverpowell
oliverpowell

All the info were great and truly inspirable. I have one software to recommend named 'Stellar Phoenix Partition Recovery Software'. This software can recover almost any type of files and folders from different type of data loss conditions. Thanks Oliver

gechurch
gechurch

Like others, I love TestDisk. I've used it to rewrite partition tables before. I also find it fairly consistently finds data that other software couldn't. The recovery process is a bit clunky though - I didn't even realise that you could recover the files for probably the first 6 months I used the tool! I also like EasyRecovery. It doesn't have any special tricks up its sleeve like some other tools, but it's a very solid tool that offers all sorts of recovery techniques. It's generally my first port of call. I particularly like how you can define your own file signature when doing a raw recovery. This lets you look for and recover only files of certain formats, even if the format is not common (or even unique to your application or field). Zero Assumption Recovery is a tool I'll try if EasyRecovery doesn't work. Raid Reconstructor is worth a mention, in case you're ever in the unfortunate situation of needing to recover data from a RAID array. I'll also mention Unstoppable Copier. It's a file copy tool (so requires the drive have a drive letter and be accessible), but I sometimes use it to easily copy the readable data from a drive that I know has bad sectors (I usually clone instead, but sometimes have the clone refuse to complete, or sometimes only want a folder's worth of data so don't want to wait for the clone to finish).

ator1940
ator1940

Parted Magic is a live Linux CD, that loads, and runs, from memory. I had a friend at work that lost her HD, and I gave her a copy of PM. She reported that she had gotten all her files, photos, videos, and documents. I've used it for deleting partitions, resizing, and adding. It's a GREAT tool, and it is FREE.

Gary80
Gary80

I have a HDD that does not even go past POST(makes knock sound)? How do I recover the data off there, if possible?

pkombala
pkombala

One of the best data recovery software, Try this Finaldata

rsarceno
rsarceno

I agree with TECHASAURUS, but more in favor with EaseUS because it haven't failed me yet and much faster.

trevora
trevora

Surprised Kroll Ontrack EasyRecovery wasn't on the list. I've bought it through versions and been successful with it.

yairpinyan
yairpinyan

Aren't there any decent free ones?

SnarfOscarBoondoggle
SnarfOscarBoondoggle

sorrrrrry ... i only read 'top rated' replies before replying sted read-all. i;m glad SpinRite has generated lots of quality replies ... some of them should have made it into 'top rated' imnsho. tia,sob

SnarfOscarBoondoggle
SnarfOscarBoondoggle

before you have to recover a drive, prevent its demise. i can sort of understand why SpinRite ( http://grc.com ) was omitted from this article since it is not explicitly designated as a recovery tool even though it DOES RECOVER as well as repair as well as refresh every bit location on the hd. i, adn many of my clients, have been grateful satisfied with SpinRite since ver 3.5 (lat 80s i believe) and it;s on 5.0 last i upraded.

jfuller05
jfuller05

Currently, I use recuva. While it's good, these look better.

kelleyjl
kelleyjl

Great tool, lifetime updates. Windows told me the drive had no data. Recover for all retrieved over 140,000 files. Worth looking at.

wwgorman
wwgorman

I have used Data Rescue to recover data from failed hard drives. I lost my main drive C: as well as 3 external back-up hard drives in one instant one day with ALL my photos. I recovered all. I had to use an external drive connector and the one I selected from a number on the market was from Fnet which services both IDE and SATA drives. I have used it on both types with the Data Rescue CD-ROM successfully.

rizzomeister
rizzomeister

Don't forget that spinrite is also a maintenance tool. Running it every so often will negate the need for these other tools.

Dyalect
Dyalect

Never rely on a single hard drive for anything. Clonezilla Custom Script on a scheduled task

Fahim@sickkids
Fahim@sickkids

When i was exausting myself with all kind of utility to restore my years of data from my faulty hard drive... Virtual Lab software saved my day... I tried the test version and was positive about the result. So i went ahead and bought the apps and it did its magic.. While other utilities restored my data in a scattered manner.... VirtualLab restored everything exactly as it was before the harddrive failed...i am and will always be thankful to this wonderful software... //Fahim

Nookhoek
Nookhoek

It's interesting, what everyone has to say about data recovery. I can't afford the decent ones that you've got to buy, before you can use them effectively, so I went looking for a free one. Not all of them, paid or free, are able to recover Windows 7 Media Center (.wtv) Recorded TV Programmes, so I had to look quite hard to find one. I eventually stumbled upon PC Inspector File Recovery, and that was the one that rescued a duplicate of the recording that I had made, when another freebie (I don't recall the name) found it, but for some unknown reason, couldn't give me a useable copy of the same file (it wasn't even fragmented!) PC Inspector File Recovery saved the day!!! Best of all, it's 100% free!!! I don't know about you, but I love it!!! It can recover just about anything you want, including photos, but the ability to do .wtv files is special to me, since that's what I needed it for, and not all Data Recovery Software can do .wtv files, they don't even find them.

Katesigma
Katesigma

I have a crashed drive and really, whatever is on there if its gone its not the end of my world...but I have photo's on there that I'd really like to recover...anyone have any suggestions...freeware if possible????

erlo
erlo

The Sleuth Kit is in my opinion invaluable for recovering lost data from hard disks. While it takes a bit of learning, it really does a good job.

TECHASAURUS
TECHASAURUS

I recommend using GetDataBack for NTFS and/or FAT. I've been able to pull data from drives that other programs fail to pull including GHOST and EASEUS Data Recovery. I've never heard of the 5 programs mentioned above but will of course try them out when the time calls for it!

majortomgb
majortomgb

Recuva is really good at recovering lost files and why not use the Linux testdisk and photrec utilities. Testdisk managed to recover a deleted Windows partition in about 5 minutes for me and has proven really useful

dia24
dia24

hi , friends i think you have not included one best files recovery program in the list for [http://www.myfilerecovery.net/software-for-windows.html]Windows file recovery tool[/url] which is very best as per my personal experience as it helped me to overcome Windows related issue. so please include Remo Recover (Windows) also in list.

BALTHOR
BALTHOR

Ghost looks to be a real old program.I suspect that it's even a chip flasher's program.A couple of clicks and you're done.Many restore programs started out simple like Ghost then they got so complex as to be unusable.The message is your computer is going to screw up so you better be ready.

Jeff7181
Jeff7181

My favorite data recovery solution is to restore a backup.

jglezar
jglezar

I use R-Studio Network. It is also very good

johngarmon
johngarmon

Spinrite is not new, but is unbelievable!

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