Data Recovery Digest

Do-It-Yourself Windows File Recovery Software: A Comparison

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Data Recovery Software Features

Losing data files needed for your personal or business life can be a devastating loss to overcome, especially with so much emphasis on digital media in the 21st century. Thankfully, there are plenty of data recovery options, both free and paid, for consumers to choose. As you might expect, however, not all recovery programs are created equally.

File Systems

Nearly every file recovery program, including the free ones, support data recovery from the most common types of file systems. This includes FAT12, FAT16, FAT32 and exFAT. Support for NTFS file systems varies from program to program, while the most thorough paid programs might even boast compatibility with ReFS, Ext2FS / 3FS, USF1 / USF2 and HFS / HFS+. Such programs give you the option of recovering files not only from a conventional PC or a Mac, but from dedicated server systems, as well.

External Media

The biggest drawback to most free data recovery programs is the fact that they are usually limited to restoring data from internal drives. Data from external media, such as Flash drives, memory cards and CDs / DVDs, is usually only recoverable through the more advanced techniques used in paid software.

Network Recovery

If you do not have physical access to a server, many of today's paid data recovery programs will allow you to initiate the recovery process over the network connection itself. This is a premium feature that is typically only associated with paid data recovery programs.

Deleted Files

Not only can data recovery software find and repair files or partitions that have been corrupted or damaged, but also files that you deleted on your own. This includes files that are deleted without using the Recycle Bin, those that were deleted by emptying the Recycle Bin and files that were removed due to a virus infection. This is one of the most common recovery options offered by today's recovery programs.

Partition Recovery

Full partition recovery is another common feature seen in both paid and free data restoration programs. This is useful because it lets you recover numerous files and directories at one time, thus streamlining the entire restoration process while maintaining the original structure and integrity of your system.

RAID Reconstruction

RAID systems allow for increased file integrity and preservation by using multiple drives to store your files, but even these are prone to failure. While most of the free recovery solutions do not allow for RAID reconstruction, many of the premium data recovery programs do.

Image Creation

Paid data recovery programs almost always support the creation of hard disk image files, which let you work with raw and compressed disk images. Because an image file encompasses an entire hard drive in just one file, this also makes it easy to backup your restored data to an external drive for safekeeping.

Hex Editing

Advanced computer engineers and software programmers may even find it useful to view and edit individual hard drive sectors. This is useful when working with proprietary systems and software that is not available to the general public. Unfortunately, such functionality is rarely seen in free data recovery programs.


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