Data Recovery Digest

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

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The Longer You Wait, The Tougher Data Recovery Becomes

Methods of recovering data have become more advanced over time, but it’s still crucially important that you act as soon as possible when you’ve suffered data loss. For some it’s blatantly obvious when they’ve lost data or their drive has been damaged – for others it might be weeks or months before they realise they’ve suffered data loss.

Nevertheless, whatever point you realise that your missing data or your drive is damaged, you need to act straight away. You must stop using the drive straight away. Absolutely nothing more should be written to the drive as this will decrease the chances of getting your data back. Most actions you take on a computer, like saving a file or browsing the web, will write data to your drive. No matter how small the action, it might be the one that destroys all trace of your data.

As you probably know, when you delete a file manually from your computer it goes into the Recycle Bin. You can restore it from here at any point, but once you clear the Recycle Bin it’s gone forever. Or is it?

In fact, that data still exists on the drive in some form. Each operating system and file system handles the process slightly differently. For example, FAT marks the file directory as unused and removes all file allocation information apart from the beginning of the file. On the other hand, NTFS marks the file entry as unused, removes the record from the directory and marks the space on the disk as unused.

In simple terms, when you delete a file it still exists on the drive in some form, but it’s hidden. The space on the disk that the data occupied is now flagged, marked as being available some other bit of data to occupy. As such, when you write new data to the drive then it could be stored in the place that your deleted data once occupied.

Data recovery software, like R-Studio, will scan the drive and look for the data that has been marked in this way. It’ll then pull it all together and present a list of everything that can be recovered and restored back to life.

As such, this is why you need to stop using the drive once you uncover data loss. You don’t want to risk overwriting any data that you might be looking to get back.

This is slightly different if your device has actually been physically damaged. For example, on a hard disk drive, which is mechanically operated, if the drive head scratches the platter then it could permanently remove that data forever. Because these devices are so delicate, it requires data recovery specialists to open up these drives in special clean rooms (with monitored air supply, removing as many airborne articles as possible) to try and recover the data.

If your data has been overwritten then it’s not going to be possible to get it back. The best way to overcome this is, of course, to backup all your data on a regular basis. That way it doesn’t really matter if you suffer data loss because you’ll always have another copy of your data to easily restore from.


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