Losing data is easier and more catastrophic in the digital age. My Dad, (bless his heart), lost a whole two terabytes worth of music when he tripped over his hard drive adapter while it was still plugged into the unit, causing expensive and/or irreplaceable damage to the device in the process. Many companies lose data to Trojans, viruses, and other malicious apps that come through wreaking havoc by corrupting and deleting files. Sometimes data is swallowed into the digital abyss simply because hardware once thought as durable failed from general wear and tear.
No matter how you get there, watching your data meet its final destination is a tough movie to sit through. The information castle you worked so hard to build is now gone in an instant. On the bright side, like I often learn when facing seemingly inevitable defeat, you’re not necessarily totally screwed. Armed with a good data recovery tool or two, you can bring back files feared to have met their digital doom.
Worth noting, of course, is that these tools are for situations that could’ve been avoided. The only way to be positive you’re not losing data is to take a full, image-based backup with software like StorageCraft ShadowProtect.
Pandora Recovery (Free)
Pandora Recovery is steadily gaining recognition as one of the better free data recovery tools on the scene. Pandora offers a Windows-reminiscent interface and built-in wizard that makes restoring deleted files a breeze. This desktop app has search capabilities that allow you to recover files by parameters such as filename, file size and creation date, in addition to the ability to preview select files before attempting recovery. There’s also an advanced feature called “Surface Scan” that optimizes recovery operations on targeted media. From archived files to encrypted files, Pandora digs deep.
iCare Data Recovery (Free and Premium Versions)
With recent data showing that Google’s mobile operating system owns more than 83 percent of the smartphone market, showing Android some love is only appropriate. Unlike some apps in the Google Play store, iCare Data Recovery actually recovers text messages, photos, video, and contact data stored on your phone or tablet. iCare claims to scan drives 300 times faster than competing apps and works with more media platforms than most others on the list. Though I discovered it while looking for Android-friendly apps, it’s capable of restoring data on PCs, iOS devices, cameras, and more.
ArtPlus Digital Photo Recovery (Premium with Free Trial)
One of the oldest data recovery tools around, Artplus Digital Photo Recovery keeps it niche-oriented by limiting its focus to multimedia files. This app comes in handy for the on the go photographer, videographer, or music enthusiast who lost files on their memory card to accidental deletion or corruption. Artplus Digital Photo Recovery supports most common image, video, and audio formats as well as the most popular memory cards on the market. The developer claims that unlike some free tools, this one identifies and fully recovers lost data.
Ontrack Remote Data Recovery (Unique Processing Model)
Developed by Knoll, Ontrack Remote Data Recovery recovers data across almost every platform imaginable, including Windows, Mac, Linux, mobile devices, virtual machines, Exchange servers, RAID arrays, and various network storage devices. Once the client software is installed on your system, this tool performs efficient recovery operations over an encrypted connection that finds and repairs missing data before restoring the system to working order. Knoll offers custom solutions for unique recovery needs and access to seasoned engineers who work with you through the entire process.
Note: From what I can tell, Knoll charges you a small upfront fee to diagnosis the drive in question, then another fee if you decide to proceed with recovering the data.
Wise Data Recovery (Free)
Our final entry keeps data recovery quick and painless – just how we like it. Wise Data Recovery presents a clean interface that lets you select your drive, scan, and recover the files you want to bring back to life. The app is lightweight and thus incredibly fast, boasting the ability to zip through your system and dig up lost data with blazing speed. Although Wise Data’s support for non-NTFS systems is iffy, it still seems to do an admirable job of restoring documents, images, video, audio, emails, and USB data with free updates and technical support included as added bonuses.
It’s important to note that despite all the amazing claims, no data recovery tool can guarantee the complete restoration of any and every file. These tools can be useful, but they really can’t compare to rock-solid image-based backups. If you do find yourself in a situation that requires recovery, there are experts like our friends at Gillware Data Recovery that can do some amazing things that tools like these might not be able to accomplish.
Photo Credit: Dennis Van Zuijekom via Flickr