Today, I'll talk about a tool for Windows. Under Windows, [Shift]+[Delete] deletes files without sending them to recycle bin, so we can't get it back. Similarly, if a disk is formatted, the data is lost and we can't get it back, normally. Data loss can also be a result of virus attack. Well, the data itself is not lost. We can actually recover data that is accidentally or unintentionally deleted. How a data is actually not lost, and how it can be recovered in theory will be a topic of some future post. Today I will review a product that practically recovers lost or deleted data from a PC with Windows Operating System.
This product is called Active File Recovery and it recognizes the most common types of file and filesystems to recover.
There is a demo version of the software that one can download and try. It recovers files of only upto 65 KB. The full version has no size limit on the files it can recover. I downloaded the demo version for this review to see how it works. The download was quick - a little over 2.4 MB, and installed quickly. On launch, the options menu was clear and easy to navigate and I quickly scanned my whole drive. The software detected a lot of deleted files. Unfortunately, the limit of 65 KB didn't allow me to recover (for testing purpose) some songs and movie clips I had deleted, but it did recover some small pics that were smaller than 65 KB.
One would be surprised how much data remains in the disk and is recoverable. It can be months since you deleted certain files that show up and could be recovered. Just proves that one can't delete a data and handover the hard disk to someone or sell it (Ebay sellers better be careful). One has to erase the data with a good software for a certain amount of assurance that the data can't be recovered. Even then, there is some chance of the data getting recoverd with good quality software like Active file recovery. Imagine some person getting hold of your bank accounts and passwords!
The software has other features as well. It can also recover data from memory cards that was formatted. For Windows Vista users, there's an Enterprise edition of Active File Recovery which can recover data from an unbootable system. For this they have a lightweight Windows Vista version WinPE 2.0 that boots and runs in RAM. From there, one can run Active File Recovery software to recover the data in the drives.
The recovery tool will be useful for anyone who has accidentally deleted files. A demo version can be be downloaded from this Active File Recovery site.
Update: I've received a full version of the software and have done some testing with it. Unfortunately, I don't have extra drive needed to test recovery of movies and other bigger files, but I managed to rescue some deleted photos, about 1 MB in size. Trying to recover a bigger file within a drive overwrites some of the file's header data that makes it impossible to open the file, or worse, makes the Windows explorer crash when the folder containing the file is opened.