Lost files can be a nightmare, and being unsure if things that were deleted will be recoverable makes it quite a bit worse. In this post I got a chance to check out Data Recovery Guru for the Mac, and it has all the makings of the best little tool I hope I don’t need to use.

Data Recovery Guru is a utility designed to do two things: check for bad sectors on scanned drives and chase after deleted files. Any device, local or remote, internal or USB/Firewire that your Mac can see and mount as a drive is fair game for scanning — although be mindful of the size of the disks you choose to scan; as with anything, larger disks take longer to complete..

How does it work?

After downloading the trial from http://www.macosxfilerecovery.com/DataRecoveryGuru.zip, unzip the application and drag it to Applications. When you start Data Recovery Guru, the interface is almost too simple. I thought I was missing something when the option – yes, the one option of Scan Now — was the only button available.

Note: In the trial, recovery is not available, but regardless of version, the scanning stuff is extremely straightforward.

Figure A

Data Recovery Guru

Simply select a disk to scan for lost files in the left hand column, tell the application if you wish to scan only deleted items or deleted and regular items, and click Scan Now. Then wait and watch the progress bar slide across the bottom of the screen.

When the scan completes a list of all the files found during the scan, is displayed with the middle pane of the application window displaying a list of types of files found. When a type is selected, the right column displays all of the files of that type that were found. Figure B shows a bunch of Word documents that were found during a scan of my Mac hard drive.

What about recovery?

To recover a file, again paid version only, you simply select the file or files to recover and click the Recover Now button.  Clicking recover now will prompt you for a location to recover the files and for a folder name. The folder created will contain the recovered files. When the files have been recovered, you will get a pop-up letting you know the process is complete.

Figure B

Specify a location for restoration

Because the scan of the hard disk took quite a while, when I was able to try recovering a file, there were no external disks attached to recover the file into, so I needed to recover it to a location on the hard disk, which prompted the warning dialog in figure C.

Figure C

Warning about recovering files to same disk

With the warning acknowledged, the recovery happened right away and the folder and its files were plunked into the documents folder as if they had been there all along.

The experience of using Data Recovery Guru was very painless. There was no need to ask for help or look online to figure out how the application worked and what it was all about, and the pricing for the program seems appropriate as well. The cost is $99. That’s it. $99 for file recovery on a Mac with insane ease of use.

I will admit that until recently, the thought of spending $99 on a piece of software to recover files seemed nuts to me. I kept all my files on an external USB drive and only had them on the hard disk while working on them. Then the USB disk crashed and by spending well over $99, I was able to get the files recovered, but I can say that the application I used for that was not as simple as Data Recovery Guru.

What about Time Machine?

Backups are great and can be extremely helpful, but they don’t help you go back to the copy that was just removed from the trash. Data Recovery Guru works in conjunction with backup software to provide a more real time solution for getting back deleted files. It is not a replacement for backup, but a companion to them.

Check out the trial of Data Recovery Guru and see if it might be the solution for your Mac environment.