Deleted an important document by mistake? Pressed shift+delete while deleting? Or did you empty the recycle bin by mistake instead of restoring the contents? A file gone from recycle bin doesn’t mean that it’s incinerated and there’s no possibility to recover it. There are lots of undelete programs that can recover those files that are even gone from the trash bin. But each ones efficiency is not similar and doesn’t provide similar options. In this post we are presenting the best 5 undelete programs for windows that we have hunted down. Have a look.
Recovering deleted files. Seems like magic. Isn’t it? Not really. First of all, let us see how a file is stored in your disk. Your hard disk or flash drive is divided into sections called blocks or sectors of 512 bytes each. These are physically present in a magnetic hard disk or are logical in a flash drive (SSDs or USB drives). When you format your hard drive, the sectors are grouped and aligned according to a number of clusters containing one, two, four or even more number of sectors giving 512, 2048, 4096, or 65536 bytes per cluster. This is dependent of the file system in use. When you write a file, the file system decides where to place your data and allocates a number of clusters for it. Even if your data is less than cluster size, it takes up a full cluster. That is why the size on disk displayed on file properties is much greater than its actual size. This information is stored in a file table called FAT (file allocation table) in FAT systems and MFT (master file table) in NTFS systems. When you delete a file, the file record is simply marked as deleted while the data is still present on the disk. When new data is written, the file system may choose to overwrite it. Here comes recovery programs. These programs scan these records, locate the associated clusters and recover them.
Restoration is an excellent but simple, easy to use file recovery software. It has a clean UI with no cryptic buttons or actions on the main interface. Is very easy to use and most of the actions are self-explanatory. Like others, it can recover files form hard disks as well as memory cards.
But it doesn’t support file systems other than NTFS or FAT group. It also lacks the surface scan so, many times it might not show up your file.
For immediate recovery options, it’s a good pick. You can download it from Softpedia here.
Glary Undelete is another excellent free file recovery program. It’s very easy to use and has the better user interface among the all software discussed here. It can recover files from hard drives and any other removable media including memory cards, USB drives, etc. Glary Undelete includes the easy “Folders” view, an Explorer-style view of recoverable files, and a “State” indicator for each file, to how much extent a file is recoverable.
One disadvantage is that, Glary Undelete requires to be installed before use and it asks to install a toolbar during install, though you can decline it. It also doesn’t support file systems other that NTFS and FAT group.
Recuva is the best free file recovery software available out there. Its wizard interface is very easy to use. And yes, it has many optional advanced features as well if the standard tasks don’t work for you. Recuva can recover files from hard drives, external drives (USB drives, etc.) and memory cards and even your iPod. Its scanning is fast too. After scanning it presents a list of files with a state indicator to indicate whether the file is recoverable.
The disadvantage in Recuva is the inability to select files based on the state. You have to do a bit manual work for this. Its search filters may cause it to crash if your file list is too huge. Also, the preview doesn’t work for file types other than images. It also doesn’t support file systems other that NTFS and FAT group. It also fails to detect files deleted by other operating systems in the same partition, even though it may be a supported file system.
If you hate installation or you want to keep it with you on the move, there’s also a portable version of Recuva.
Undela is another powerful undelete program. It has a lot of advanced options and can recover files from any sort of common file system. It has many advanced configuration options and scan options that make recovery easier and faster. Its UI is simple and gives the option to preview your files too before recovering. But its UI has a disadvantage. At times it can be a bit unstable. It requires to be installed in your drive and a restart before use. So, it can be inconvenient if you are in a hurry to recover your lost files and a restart may also decrease your chance of file recovery too. Also, it comes with a price which might pinch your pocket.
Photorec is perhaps the most sophisticated file recovery programs discussed here. It can recover files from virtually any kind of file systems currently in common use. Be it windows NTFS, FAT or Linux Ext2, Ext3 or UNIX FS or a mac HFS+. PhotoRec can recover files from hard drives, optical drives, and memory cards or any other kinds of storage device on your PC. And yes, above all it’s completely free and open source under the GNU GPL version 2.
Though it is so powerful, it has its disadvantages. It is very limited and cumbersome by its command-line interface and multiple step recovery process. And another major problem is it’s very difficult to avoid recovering all deleted files at once, not just the one or two you are hunting for. This puts another mammoth task for sorting the one which you require to keep. At times it may also dump some garbage out of your drive.
If other recovery software fail to do your work, you can go for it. But we won’t recommend it as the first pick.
For a successful data recovery, first search the volume shadow copies of your file/folder in system properties. If something is found, you can restore from there too. But when something is accidently deleted, don’t perform any sort of write operations on that drive. It may overwrite your data, making it difficult to recover.
Have we missed your favourite program, let us know. Just leave a comment.