I’ve lost count of the number of times over the years that I
have had friends, family, and even clients contact me because a hard disk
failed and no backup of the data exists. In these types of situations the only
option is often to use a data recovery utility to try to get back some of the
data. This article discusses five such utilities.

This
article is also available as a TechRepublic Screenshot Gallery.

Five Apps

1. VirtualLab

VirtualLab is a utility for recovering various types of
data. As you would expect, the product features file level recovery and
partition level recovery. What might not be expected however is that it also
has support for Macintosh partitions. The software also has dedicated functions
for recovering CD / DVD ROMs, deleted E-mail messages, and photos. There is
even a RAID recovery function. Best of all, the interface is very clean and
easy to use.

VirtualLab sells for $39.95, but a
free trial version is available for download. The trial version scans for
recoverable data, but the actual recovery is disabled.

2. File Scavenger Data Recovery Utility

File
Scavenger Data Recovery Utility
that is dedicated to file recovery. The
utility itself is fairly simple. It scans the volume of your choosing, lets you
select the file that you want to recover, and then that file is saved to a
location of your choosing.

One thing that I really like about this utility is that it
actively prevents recovered files from being saved to the volume where they
previously resided. This is important, because writing to the volume decreases
the chances of being able to recover other lost data. Although File Scavenger
Data Recovery Utility is not as diverse as some of the other utilities that are
available, it does one thing and does it well.

File Scavenger Data Recovery Utility sells for $49.95, but a
free trial version is available for download. The trial version is limited to
recovering files 64KB in size or smaller.

3. Stellar Phoenix Windows Data Recovery – Professional

Stellar
Phoenix Windows Data Recovery – Professional
is a basic data recovery
utility. It has dedicated modes that allow for the recovery of drives (and file
data), CDs and DVDs, photos, and E-mail messages.

I particularly liked this utility’s advanced options. It
features the ability to clone a drive so that you don’t risk further damaging
your only copy of the data. There is also a feature that lets you create a disk
image, which you can restore data from later on. A Drive Status function lets
you view detailed health information for a disk.

Stellar Phoenix Windows Data Recovery – Professional sells
for $99.00, but a free trial download is available. The Save option is disabled
in the free trial.

4. MiniTool Power Data Recovery Free Edition

MiniTool Power Data Recovery Free Edition is a free
tool for recovering data from a number of different sources. The software
provides undelete recovery, recovery of damaged or lost partitions, digital
media recovery, and CD / DVD recovery.

The best thing about MiniTool
Power Data Recovery Free Edition might be the fact that you can purchase a boot
disk. Having a boot disk makes it far easier to recover data from an
unbootable, malware infected, or severely damaged system.

5. EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard Free Edition

EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard Free Edition is a free tool
for deleted file recovery, partition recovery, and complete system recovery. At
first glance, it appears that the utility will only allow you to recover
specific types of data such as pictures or E-mail messages. However, the
interface does contain an Other option that you can
use to recover files of any type.

The free version of this tool will allow for up to 2GB of
data recovery. EaseUS also provides the option to
purchase a Windows PE based boot disk for $59.95.