If your hard disk fails and you don't have a valid backup, you will have to resort to a data recovery tool. Brien Posey has five suggestions.
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.