Sooner or later, recovery will be a necessary task for every IT administrator. People lose data, either by accidental deletion or thanks to problematic partition tables. No matter how the data gets lost, you'll need a reliable tool to get the recovery job done. But you can't always rely on an installed tool and have to make use of a portable tool. Here are five tools that can help you with partition recovery and file recovery. All these tools are free and can be placed on a flash drive for portability.
Note: This list is also available as a photo gallery.
1: Portable Data RecoveryPortable Data Recovery (Figure A) is one of the Pendrive Apps and does a great job of recovering data from FAT, FAT16, FAT32, and NTFS partitions. It's less than 500K and can recover some compressed and encrypted files. Portable Data Recovery also includes a wipe tool that will allow you to permanently delete a file to protect deleted sensitive data. When you recover data, make sure you recover to a drive other than the one the data is recovered from.
Portable Data Recovery
2: TestDiskTestDisk (Figure B) is a partition recovery tool that can help you recover lost partitions and make bootable non-bootable drives. This is one of those tools you hope you never have to use, but when you do have to use it, you'll be glad you have it and hope it works. It does work well. However, the success of the tool depends upon how badly damaged the partitions are. TestDisk can fix a partition table, recover a deleted partition, rebuild or recover NTFS, FAT boot sectors, fix MFT, and undelete and/or copy files from NTFS, FAT, ext2, ext3 file systems.
3: RecuvaPiriform's Recuva (Figure C) offers tons of features for a portable app of this nature. With it, you can undelete files, recover data from a damaged disk, recover deleted iPod music, and restore unsaved Word documents. Recuva also has an easy-to-use quick start wizard, can do deep scans, and can securely delete files.
4: Wise Data RecoveryWise Data Recovery (Figure D) allows you to recover Word documents, photos, email, audio, video, archives, and much more. What is unique about Wise Data Recover is that it will indicate the condition of the file to recover. You get immediate feedback after a scan indicating whether a file is Good, Poor, Very Poor, or Lost. Obviously, if a file is Lost, you won't be able to recover that file. But if the file is Good, you'll probably get that data back. The interface for Wise Data Recovery is clean and the app a snap to use.
Wise Data Recovery
5: RestorationRestoration (Figure E) allows you to easily restore files that were deleted from the Recycle bin or directly deleted from Windows. It lets you quickly scan upon app startup, limit search results with search strings (or extension), and securely wipe files beyond simple recovery. Restoration works with FAT, NTFS, and SD cards. Use caution when running this app, as it "offers" to install third-party software. Pay close attention when running the executable.
Data and partition recover is a tricky business. It's never a sure thing, so go into testing these apps with that in mind. Even if you're able to recover data, it's not always certain that it will be completely intact. Maybe you'll never need these tools. But if you do, it's good to know there are portable recovery apps available to use.
What portable recovery apps are in your toolkit? Share your favorite with other TechRepublic members.
Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website getjackd.net.