File recovery after hard drive crash?, Part 2

Dennis Faas's picture

Yesterday's feature article was about file recovery after a hard drive crash.

File recovery after hard drive crash?

In a nutshell, I outlined some steps one might take in order to recover files from a corrupt hard drive. I also asked Infopackets Readers if they knew of any good freeware or commercial file recovery software which could undelete / recover lost data.

Here are some of the responses I received:

Haukur B. and Pippe both recommended a program called "PC Inspector File Recovery". From the web site:

" PC Inspector File Recovery is a data recovery program with support for FAT 12/16/32 and NTFS file systems. It recovers files with the original time and date stamp, and can optionally restore them to a network drive and can recover many files, even when a header entry is no longer available.

On FAT systems, the programs finds partitions automatically, even if the boot sector or FAT has been erased or damaged. PC Inspector File Recovery offers an easy to use interface that will scan your drive and automatically make files that can be recovered available from a 'Deleted' folder in an Explorer Style navigation tree. "

Side note: FAT and NTFS are file systems. FAT stands for "File Allocation Table", and NTFS stands for New Technology File System". NTFS was developed by Microsoft for use with Windows NT / 2000 and XP. In the most simplest sense, file systems are responsible for defining how and where data is stored on a hard drive.

Infopackets Reader Evan K. writes:

" [I found that] many companies offer a demo version [of their file recovery software] that can read (but not recover) files from your hard drive. Thus, diagnostics can be run [on the drive to at least see if] ... their software can resolve the situation. I think this a good workable alternative to buying the software outright. "

I have also noticed this trend, especially from the comments I received from Readers.

In fact, John C. and quite a few Infopackets Readers recommended a program called "Get Data Back". In his letter, John told me how "Get Data Back" helped him retrieve files from a friend's computer:

" The program I use is Get Data Back from Runtime Software. This is definitely not freeware (it costs $69.00 for FAT and $79.00 for NTFS), but I think it's the best recovery software available.

A newbie friend of mine discovered [a program called] FDISK on his computer and decided to partition his hard drive [which ended up erasing his entire C drive]. Using Get Data Back, I was able to recover about 95% of his files. "

Side note: FDISK (fixed disk) is a utility which is used to allocate drive letters to a hard drive. This is also referred to as partitioning a hard drive. For example: FDISK can split a 30 gig hard drive into two drive letters, consisting of 15 gigabytes each (C drive = 15 gig, D drive = 15 gig). Both of the drive letters (C: and D:) in this example are treated as separate identities when used under an operating system (such as Windows), but actually reside on the same hard drive.

It is important to note that if FDISK is used to redefine areas of a drive that contain information, the data will be lost (as in the case of John C.'s friend). There are, however, utilities such as Acronis ParitionExpert that can partition a hard drive without loss of data. And, with respect our discussion on file recovery, Sara M. writes:

" Try Ontrack Data Advisor (not freeware). It's a [hard drive] diagnostic utility, which monitors the 'health of your hard disk drive, file structures, and computer memory by identifying problems that could cause data loss'. I'm using the trial version of Advisor on a dead computer right now. "

And, Aryeh G. sent me a few recommendations:

" For [scratched / defective] CD-ROM discs, I use Naltech's CD Data Rescue program. The program is not freeware, but a trial version is available. [To recover] floppy disks, I use Gibson Research's SpinRite program (it is also a commercial product). "

Thanks to all who wrote in with their suggestions!

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