A Real Life Experience Testing Out The File Recovery Tools

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A second hard drive in my laptop that stores all my day-to-day files and life decided to take on strike two days ago, which basically leaves me a laptop running OS off on a SSD hard drive that has no data on it at all. Thinking positively, I took this as a good opportunity to give those File Recovery tools a dive in a real life to see who saves me from this disaster.

The failure of the hard drive was mainly due to the corrupted partition table, not physical damage, so I got a pretty good shot that the data on the disk may remain untouched and can be recovered.

The first one I picked was Recuva from Piriform because of the good words I heard from time to time. It’s also free so nothing can be wasted other than time. After spending over 3 hours scanning the whole drive in a Deep Scan mode, the program successfully found 632185 files with 10032 ignored (not sure why).

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Besides the problem I couldn’t find the files I wanted to recover from the list, the real issue was the file structure discovered by the tool. As you can see from the screenshot, it’s not comprehensive at all. It’s quite useless when trying to recover a folder of stuff or a specific file based on the name. Even though if I was able to find the file from the result list, I probably still wouldn’t be able to put them together where they belonged to in order.

The result from Recuva was good but wasn’t good enough to me to recover what I wanted. In a desperate trying to find something with the better result, I subsequently tried  Undelete360, FileUndelete, NTFSUndelete, TestDisk & PhotoRec, and Restoration, all free tools, but none of them got the results that were better than Recuva. I may should have tried Restoration or TestDisk before anything else but it was too late that neither of them was able to fix the damaged partition table.

Out of hope, I turned my attention to one of the paid tool, Active@ Undelete, as it had saved me once a few years ago. Downloaded the trial version and set it off to lower level scan on the failed hard drive. It took a good 9 hours before the scanning job finished. The result? Surprisingly good. I did have to dig a little bit deep to find what I wanted but what surprised me was once they were found they were organized perfectly in a file structure that was previously existed in the hard drive before.

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Then, the rescue work was pretty an easy task of right-clicking on the folder and clicking Recover. Specify the destination where the restore files were going to go, and check the option “Create original file path”, I was good to go.

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Wait, I actually had to cough up $40 to get the software registered before I was able to recover them, as the trial version is only good to scan your lost files. In a couple hours, I was relieved with all files recovered successfully from the crash hard drive.

In many cases, the free tools are good enough to accomplish the job assigned, Recuva actually stands out and seems to be able to fulfill your file recovery needs down the road, but in this particular case I encountered, the paid version is  a clear winner, not only the scanning mechanism but the whole process as well.

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