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Data recovery with the help of software

Updated on April 4, 2016

Sometimes, users may accidentally or by mistake lose their files stored on their computers or removable media. In some cases, the data can be recovered on your own. There is plenty of software – both paid and freeware – for you to use in order to restore lost files. Yet before installing an unknown application to your computer, a satisfied smile on your face, make sure you know the following:

  • You should know the cause why your files were lost and if they can be recovered by your own efforts.
  • What peculiarities this file recovery program has and what it can do.
  • Your attempt to recover files from a media mounted in the operating system may have the risk of making the situation even worse and losing your data forever.

When can I recover files on my own?

By no means should you attempt any actions on your own if:

  • Your HDD has fallen (in this case, even switching it on is completely out of the question)
  • Your HDD emits (emitted) grating, rattling, rustling, unnatural humming or other strange sounds
  • Your HDD, Flash or SSD cannot be identified by your computer
  • Your HDD won’t start

In such cases, an amateur’s interference usually means you will pay much more for the data recovery works, or you may even lose the data forever.

When can I use the applications?

There are also situations when you needn’t bother experts:

  • A file was deleted by mistake
  • A disk (disk partition) was formatted accidentally
  • Files were lost due to incorrect work of a program or because of a virus attack

In such cases it is sensible to recover the files on your own, but only on condition that you realize what you are doing. If the steps you are taking follow an incorrect algorithm your file recovery program can only make the process of recovery more complicated or even impossible.

File recovery software

If you have decided to recover your files on your own, it is worth choosing a program to work with. For our review, we have selected a set of applications compatible with a Windows operating system and FAT/NFTS file systems.


Developer: Piriform.

Recuva – one of the first free programs for data recovery. It meet the requirements for the good level of data restoration. Its main purpose is to recover files which have been just deleted by mistake. Recuva has two working modes: surface and in-depth (sector-wise disk analysis).

The program has a simple interface. The main window shows a list of files in the form of a tree, a list or miniatures. Next to a file name, there is an icon in one of the three colors, green, yellow or red which indicated the chances of its recovery and the percentage of losses if you choose to recover it. As you click “Recover” button the program will start recovering the files you have selected and will ask you where to record the files. If the result of a file loss was accidental deletion, you can restore files to the current directory, but we recommend recovery to a different disk partition, and even better, to a different device.

The program also has an extended interface where you can set search options, such as the folder and the method of search.

A small bonus to add to file recovery options is Safe Deletion function. If you choose it, the program will take several cycles to overwrite only a certain part of the disk where the chosen file is so that recovering such file will be impossible.

PC Inspector File Recovery

Developer: Convar.

PC Inspector File Recovery makes a slightly better job of file recovery than Piriform Recuva, but at the same time it has a more complicated interface. To use PC Inspector File Recovery, you will have to rack your brains a bit but it’s worth it. The program includes a function of file recovery from disk partitions not identified by the operating system, yet files scattered all over your drive (fragmented) will create some difficulties. The algorithm applied to search for partitions also does not look reliable.

During the launch of the program you can specify the cause why you lost your data:

After that, a window will appear to choose the disk where you need to look for the lost files:

After the disk analysis, all files that have been found will be shown in a window from which they can be recovered.

Hetman Partition Recovery

Developer: Hetman Software.

Hetman Partition Recovery has the friendliest interface of all the applications we are considering here, and in terms of functionality it is as good as the rest of them, sometimes even standing out to advantage.

This program is not limited by the list of supported file systems or types of media (be it an internal hard drive or a removable media), and it also supports recovery of all known file types and extensions.

Besides the existing partitions, the utility can find all previously created disk partitions and shows it to the user for further analysis and search for deleted information, which distinguishes it to advantage from among its competitors.

Similarly to Recuva, Hetman Partition Recovery can help in running a Quick Scan or a Complete Analysis depending on how critical the situation is.

Hetman Partition Recovery provides a function to preview the files to be restored.

Summing up

There are a great number of programs for data recovery with different functionality, and our review mentioned only some of them. Which product to choose depends only on the area of its application and your own preferences.

Yet you should always remember that there are different cases when using these programs is appropriate and when it is better to bring your hard disk to experts.

Also, do not forget to create backups of the files you would never want to lose forever.


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