Storage

Five data recovery tools that could save the day

Introduction

As IT pros, we've all gotten those panicky phone calls from friends and family members who want us to save their data after a hard drive crash. Since there never seems to be a backup, we have to reach for a recovery tool and hope we can salvage the data. Here's a look at some good choices.

Note: If you'd prefer to view this information as a blog post, check out this entry in our Five Apps blog.

Photo credit: Copyright © iStockphoto.com/Krle

 

49 comments
hddfixer
hddfixer

The first data recovery software we started to use is R-studio and it is very nice and now we are already offering the hardware solutions from them: https://www.facebook.com/datarecoverytools the facebook address gives a lot of new info on new data recovery tools.

joep
joep

iRecover does it all: data recovery for all Windows and popular Linux file systems, specialized module for photo recovery, automatic RAID recovery (stripe size, disk order, rotation), NAS recovery, disk imaging, SMART polling etc.. Visit www.diydatarecovery.nl, over 15 years of experience.

chiransj
chiransj

I have used active partition & file recovery for years. But it cannot used to recover disks that formatted several times. Is there any solution to recover data that on formatted several times?

rpprevost
rpprevost

I can understand a columnist catering to advertisers, etc. but what about readership. The web is literally littered with misleading labels to download "Free" this or "Free" that which you discover later was meant literally. The download is free, but in order to use what you download, you got to pay. I never expected to see that sort of foolishness here. It's sickening. It may as well be titled "The worlds best article EVER!" The headline boasts "10 Free Tools" but every description ends with price tag. Oh, I see now! It was meant literally. I misread "10 free tools that IT pros love" to mean 10 free tools for IT pros. My Bad.

shernawaz
shernawaz

I always found icare data recovery as the most reliable data recovery, even it recovered me full structured data format and you wont believe me, i always recommend this in my department and as well as whoever want to recover their data.

kevin.spencer
kevin.spencer

no need for most of this fancy even unreliable software! get your self external hdd i have a very good usb3 ext 500gb drive its good, its fast, its reliable!...if you cant do any thing else on a pc....try copy n paste, or right click n send to... never fails always there! even if your pc kicks the bucket! unplug you ext hdd plg in to your new pc ...and off you go!!

taiping007
taiping007

If your Microsoft office files gets deleted then don't worry, because you can recover ms office files. This software can recover your Power point files and Docs files. You can download this software to restore all your lost data from given link below. http://www.remosoftware.com/remo-recover-windows.exe

nohams
nohams

Thanks for the very useful post! I tried to recover deleted JPG files from memory card using couple of tools. The scan found those deleted files with the correct size. But, I can not open them using image editors! Any idea why? is there a way/ another SW that I can use to fix those images?

senerakyol
senerakyol

I've been using Get Data Back for NTFS and Get Data Back for FAT before the NTFS days started. I find it very comprehensive and successful in recovering files... thought it's worth mentioning. As for recovering a lost volume parted/Gparted saved the day for me in many occasions with Mac Windows and Linux volumes.

wwgorman
wwgorman

My comment that I use Data Rescue was removed from the comments. Not politically correct I guess. I read the comments on the SpinRite program and went to the website and listened to the Steve Gibson interviews about his program AND I bought one. So far I have NOT gotten it to run in Windows as he claimed in one of the interviews to be doing as he spoke. The program crashed a Windows 7 Professional machine. It did run with a bootable CD on a Windows XP program and for a 320gb drive took 8 hours. I haven't run the bootable CD on the Vista machine as I'm working in Windows writing this message now but I haven't yet gotten the program to run even in a DOS window in Windows.

dalmata
dalmata

Hi, is there any freeware tool for recovering data from corrupted HD that works?

p.appleby
p.appleby

Photorec is good at recovering files and is free.

coldbrew
coldbrew

I have used BootSuite before on a server. Unfortunately the system was so hosed up nothing really worked. I was impressed with what you could do with it.

draco vulgaris
draco vulgaris

The original poster had a fantastic bit of luck. I hope he has learned a lesson about making regular disk backups. If you don't copy your disk, block by block from track 0 to track "X" on a regular basis you will, sooner or later, lose some, or all, of your data! If it's your personal computer, you can replace the drive, re-install your software and MAYBE get on with your life. If you are responsible for your employer's disk farm, and have made regular backups you MAY be be able to restore from a backup and lose relatively little. If you failed to make regular backups, your ass is grass and just about everyone will be firing up the lawn mower! This is a lesson that many people must learn the hard way!

cptroger
cptroger

R-studio should be in that list as well.

nigel.tidswell
nigel.tidswell

I've used Zero Assumption Recovery (free for recovery of pics from memory cards) to get JPGs off a camera memory card that was corrupted when Win7 booted with the card plugged in. Took about 2 hrs for a 4GB card, but there they all were. Also used Winhex to get all data off a 4TB GPT partition when Win7 (heh, spot the theme here) did the same thing (scrambled the first few disk sectors with the partition table). Are there any tools around now that understand GPT?

alxbermejo
alxbermejo

I have used this product numerous times. Works great!! As long as the BIOS detects the drive, never fails. The biggest feature (RAW Recovery), it lets you recover data from a Hard Drive with no file system structure. Highly recommend it.

carywinton
carywinton

Until there is a hardware solution which enables us to remove the platters and install them into a device that can read them, I do not feel any software will be truely useful. Most of the drives that come in here have bad heads with the distinctive click,click,click sound, no software will help at that point.

dbeagan
dbeagan

@knudson Absolutely, SpinRite is tops. Some may think it expensive at $89, but as you suggest, if you need it, it is worth much more. Some may quibble that it is a disk recovery utility. Doesn't matter. Files are on disks. Also, it can be used for routine maintenance to avoid getting into an emergency recovery situation. This tool is NOT copy protected, Steve relies on good will and bad karma to get paid. AND by purchasing copy you contribute to the many worthwhile and free services that Steve Gibson provides (grc.com and twit.tv security now).

carl
carl

The first thing I use on any "failed" system is SpinRite (www.grc.com). It has fixed about 90% of my BSOD problems brought to me by frantic friends and relatives.

draoi
draoi

when i click on the link for "bootsuite 2012", wot (web of trust) intercepts and informs me this web site has the lowest rating possible and is an unreliable vendor. when i perform a google search on "bootsuite 2012" the results point to different a web site than the link above. when i search on spotmau, the results indicate many different web sites, some trusted by wot, some not. possibly better research into what is being recommended here is needed, unless of course this is simple a press release which should be disclosed...

knudson
knudson

Gibson Research's SpinRite has resurrected drives from the dead for me since the late 1980s. I could run this on drives that wouldn't boot or had errors to the point it was painful to access the drives and after SpinRite did it's magic, I could get at virtually all of the information. I'd pay him 10x the price for the software -- it is just that good. Note: I have no affiliation with Gibson Research and don't know Steve Gibson personally -- I'm just a very satisfied customer.

eric_s
eric_s

Before spending too much, check out the free utilities on the web. EaseUs comes to mind, as well as Auslogics. I've had good outcomes with both, and recommend trying both before spending on a commercial product.

Gritztastic
Gritztastic

My first stop is Recuva, free (for personal use) from Piriform, and can run as a portable app from your flash drive. If that doesn't work, I boot up with Ubuntu and take a crack at block copying the drive via GNU ddrescue (gddrescue). Google: ubuntu data recovery FWIW, thanks to everyone for the suggestions in the comments, all have been evernoted for future reference :)

TheLip95032
TheLip95032

Test disk , free and runs on many OS, can't beat that. Thanks citiwidecomputers

travlr
travlr

Test disk noted in above comment is free and will retrieve as much or more than these pricey pieces of software. FTK Imager from Access data is FREE and will recover recently deleted (i.e, it will undelete) files simply and easily. Magical Jelly bean finder is FREE and will recover Windows and Microsoft software keys. There is no need to pay for things like this.......

alexisgarcia72
alexisgarcia72

File scavenger has been one of my favority recovery tool of all times. When all other tools fail, I'm able to recover with file scavenger... I get excelent results recovering from big hard drives, highly damaged drives, memory sticks, blackberry SD cards, etc.

RNR1995
RNR1995

We use the Ontrack data recovery software, recovers PST's better than scanpst also, has recovery for Office docs too These are pretty good Disc Internals R-Studio Final Data Aesus 5.01 these work File Scavenger Get Data back these suck Pc Tools File Recovery Recover My Files Undelete Plus What do you think??

AnotherDoid
AnotherDoid

My son's HD crashed locking in his un-backed up university thesis. I bought a new identical drive and swapped the controllers. When the drive recovered his smile was as wide as the Atlantic! That's what Dads are for, I guess.

citiwidecomputers
citiwidecomputers

Test disk by CG Security(cgsecurity.org) is an open sorce product that I've used quite a bit for data recovery and correcting file system errors, but the feature I like the best is the ability to copy files from the problem drive right to the Testdisk folder on my tech computer. It has made me the "hero" on many occasions when my competitors have failed.

GraphicStart
GraphicStart

Markzware has a service to fix bad InDesign data or DTP documents. You can also do this yourself, but you need BOTH Adobe InDesign and QuarkXPress (they also fix bad Quark files as a side note), as well as their conversion tools, Q2ID and ID2Q. Here is a video on how it works: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R2IuqhZ0f-4 Thought that may be interesting to add to the comment threads on data recovery tools, how to fix corrupt InDesign data!

TimGummer
TimGummer

How about a little qualification here Brien? "Five Tools for Windows Users..." Not sure where you've been the last decade, but it's a long time since MS ruled the roost. To be fair, OS X does require tooling from time to time. the big four being: Disc Utility (with OS), Disk Warrior, Drive Genius, and Techtool. Just in case you even need to know.

lharris@HariTech.com
lharris@HariTech.com

I have used a product Spinrite many times to recover bad sectors on a failing drive. All the tools listed are variations on a theme. I was expecting 10 tools in different categories, something like Spinrite to get a dying drive running, something to recover a damaged file system, something to recover an accidentally delete file, something to defrag a file system etc. This felt like fluff.

riaantap
riaantap

Only Problem is if the HDD doesnt pick up in the BIOS there isnt much one can do. unless you know someone that can repair at that level.

carl
carl

Spinrite doesn't run in Windows. It must boot from "bootable media" to work properly. It boots with "FreDos and runs at the "low level disk access" level. It does not need or use the disk's file system and does not repair file system problems (except for possibly allowing a sector to be read instead of ignored). Big disks take time to retrieve data that the OS has determined as "unreadable", but how can you complain if SpiinRite takes 8 hours (or even 8 days) if it proceeds to make your system bootable and your data recoverable? Spinrite is first on my recovery tools list. Carl

CyberOptiq
CyberOptiq

what your talking about and what the article talks about are 2 different things...obviously a hardware failure will be a lot more difficult to correct than a software one...so what's your point??

mudpuppy1
mudpuppy1

it's just triage and minor surgery. I've had a lot of success using some of these tools. The drives you mention need to be sent to those expensive data recovery services. I've only had to do that a few times.

ron
ron

boot, not boote

CyberOptiq
CyberOptiq

you have to take these recommendations from reviewers on sites such as this one with a grain of salt because there is that possibility...open source software often gets overlooked because they want to cater to proprietary software that you have to pay for and they don't want to piss off their advertisers or the software companies that support them....

hologram
hologram

I agree - File Scavenger is worth every penny. One tip with a physically damaged drive: be ready when the drive is first seen to copy its contents. I had someone's bad laptop drive & was able to see it in FS the first time I looked but didn't work with it right away. Logged off, went to lunch & was never able to see the drive again.

wwgorman
wwgorman

I went to Wikipedia and read the comments. I wouldn't put it in the category of scamware but it doesn't apparently do all the things that Steve Gibson says it does unless you know all the tricks and the documentation available is for version 5 and certainly "incomplete" which is a politely as I can put it. I would urge caution on buying this product. I have and have used Data Rescue PC before and recommend that but that comment was removed yesterday-----I guess not politically correct.

bkelly
bkelly

Thanks for providing a good open source option! I've used Recuva for file recovery, but have not really delved into file system errors (or had to).

sonicwim
sonicwim

I agree on Spinrite being indispensable... It analyses the underlying diskblocks at a low level and tries to repair them no matter what filesystem is installed on top of them. This has helped quite a few people I know that had a damaged FS where for instance an important directory entry was damaged.

R.Growler
R.Growler

I have in a few instances successfully (and very carefully) replaced the controller card on the faulty drive. It is possible, but I did practise on a few throwaways before I dared do it with a clients disk :)

wwgorman
wwgorman

I certainly wasn't complaining about the 8 hour test run on a 320gb hard drive. I was merely stating a fact and this is probably in line with the time quotes made by Gibson in his video interview. However, with agreement with Gibson for a refund I have deleted SpinRite from my system and destroyed the few CD-Rom's I made so I won't be testing it further.

draoi
draoi

thanx for the "observation"; i fixed the spelling and verified my findings; not a good company to do business with. the web site "hosts-file.net" assigns a "fsa" rating to this vendor (& their affiliates). beyond the question of spotmau's questionable behaviour, why is techrepublic not screening what they are recommending better? this information was not that difficult to find.

Mr. Fix
Mr. Fix

I had to learn this the hard way. Before you even THINK of attaching a failing drive to your operating system vs. using a boot disk utility to perform data recovery, you absolutely need to disable all other applications and services that may MANIPULATE THE DATA on it in any way, as data recovery requires exclusive access of the drive to work properly. Also, take every precaution to avoid any unnecessary I/O on the failing drive. Even something as seemingly benign as an automatic anti-malware scan can potentially compromise its viability for recovery. Do not trust data recovery software to secure exclusive access to the drive and likewise do not trust that your configuration settings for other applications and services - defragmentation utlities in particular! - will prevent them from messing around with the drive while you're trying to work with it.