There are a lot of ways to lose critical data -- like hardware failure, an OS crash, a user error, or a malicious attack. If it happens to you, one of these tools may help you get that data back.
Murphy's law dictates that the data that you're most likely to lose is the data that has not yet been backed up. Fortunately, a number of data recovery tools are available. Here are five excellent choices.
Note: This article is also available as an image gallery and a video hosted by TechRepublic columnist Tom Merritt.
1: R-Studio Data Recovery Software
R-Studio Data Recovery Software (Figure A) is a data recovery application for PCs. This application is different from many others in that it doesn't just scan hard disks -- it can also open disk images and connect to remote PCs. The software a variety of views of the scan in progress.
R-Studio Data Recovery can display a progress indicator or the objects it finds while the scan is in progress. Displaying the results during the scan is slower, but it doesn't require you to wait until the end of the scan to find out whether the file that you lost is recoverable.
R-Studio Data Recovery Software sells for $49.99, but a free trial version is available for download.
2: Pandora Recovery
Pandora Recovery (Figure B) is a free data recovery tool. One of the things I really like about Pandora Recovery is that it uses a wizard for the recovery process. The wizard walks you through tasks such as checking the recycle bin and choosing a recovery method.
Pandora offers three recovery modes. You can browse for individual files or folders, search by the file name, size, date, etc., or perform a deep scan. The deep scan is useful for identifying data fragments when the file allocation table has been corrupted.
3: EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard Free Edition
EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard Free Edition (Figure C) lets you recover data from your hard disk. The free edition is kind of a teaser to get you to purchase the full version. The free version works, but it's limited to recovering 1 GB of data.
Overall, EaseUS is a really nice tool. You can scan for specific file types, and it will even identify "lost drives" (partitions for which no mapping exists). The results are categorized by file type.
4: Wise Data Recovery
Wise Data Recovery (Figure D) is a free, lightweight tool. Its best feature is the interface simplicity. The interface features a search field, a Scan button, a Recover button -- and that's really about it. Wise Data Recovery might be a good choice for those who have no previous experience with data recovery.
5: ArtPlus Digital Photo Recovery
ArtPlus Digital Photo Recovery (Figure E) is a bit different from the other data recovery apps on this list. It is specifically designed to recover photo, video, and audio files from memory cards. While plenty of data recovery programs can retrieve data from memory cards, ArtPlus has one feature I really like: It allows you to create a virtual disk image that acts as a replica of your memory card. That way, you can attempt the recovery from the image file without fear of further damaging the physical memory card.
ArtPlus Digital Photo Recovery sells for $24.95, but a free trial version is available for download.
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What data recovery tools have come to your rescue? Share your recommendations with fellow TechRepublic members.