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Free Hard Drive Data Recovery Software

Updated on April 15, 2014

Data recovery is needed when hard drive or some other storage media fails and you don't have backups. Since any computer can fail it is mandatory to make regular backups of all important data. But in some cases like when you are outside with your digital camera you can not make backups. And if the disaster happens you have two options: to forget about the files or to try data recovery. And sometimes you need no failed disk drive to lose files. One press of the delete button and your files are history. Fortunately, there are many tools that can be used to undelete files and recover lost data. And many such tools are available free of charge.

File Recovery and Undelete Software

The first group of tools is ordinary data recovery or undelete software. It is used to restore deleted files or otherwise inaccessible files. The only prerequisite is working hardware. If the disk drive or memory card is not accessible then this software can not help you. Undelete is possible because the files are not actually deleted, they are only marked invisible and the space occupied is released to the system. Data recovery software scans the disk and tries to find data that may belong to our files. With a little help from us it can restore the original file. The operation will be successful if the data (after we have deleted the file) was not overwritten by other files. Here is a list of free undelete software.

Disk- Partition Imaging Software

The second group is not actually a recovery software but can be used in connection with data recovery. Disk or partition imaging software is used to duplicate disks and to create complete backups of disk drives. It can be also used to create a copy of corrupted drive to perform data recovery on a copy instead on the damaged disk directly. Disk images contain all files including operating system. To restore the disk it is enough to write the image back to the disk. This kind of complete disk backup is used to create a starting point for data recovery. Once you have the basic disk files restored from the image you can add or replace the files from the latest daily backup and you have the disk state before the failure. Here is a list of free disk imaging software.

Backup and Restore Software

The third group of software actually prevents expensive data recovery. Backup and restore software is as important as the operating system. Regular backups are mandatory even if we have only one desktop computer. All the files we create can be lost if we don't store them also to another location. Backup software automates operation of copying new or modified files to the destination we specify. Data recovery is pretty simple if have backups. Together with disk image backups are all what we need to restore the disk at any time. Take a look at the list of free backup/restore software.

Disk Partitioning Software

The fourth group is disk partitioning software. Not directly related to data recovery but can be used to split a hard drive into smaller partitions which can be easily managed and backed up. Here is a list of free partition tools.

Disk Erasers and Wipers

The last group of software is a direct opposition of data recovery – permanent file deletion. In some cases we want to be sure the files were deleted and no data recovery will be possible. Disk wiping software is used to overwrite the files with random data or selected patterns. This process prevents any attempt to recover deleted files. Here is a list of free disk erasers.

Simple Data Recovery

Data recovery services are expensive and the best way to prevent damage and lost files is to regularly create backups. Even a simple flash USB disk can be used for basic backup. And when disaster strikes there are many free tools you can try to use for data recovery. Of course, if the hardware is broken and is not accessible then there is little you can do. But to recover deleted files or data from corrupted file systems you only need right tools and some little knowledge about computers, disks and files.


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