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Even though computer technology has advanced greatly over the past decade, there is still a good chance for system failure, corrupted files, and human error. Any one of these can lead to data loss. In this article, we will outline the attributes of the best data recovery software, along with initial troubleshooting steps.
Has your entire music or movie collection ever been deleted? Have you ever had a child accidentally press the ‘Del’ key? Ever lost an important term paper, or spreadsheet? If so, you are definitely not alone.
Whether it be a deleted family photo, the lost tracks of a favorite music artist, or a corrupted sensitive business document, there comes we all may need to recover a file, or two. Forget about cost for a moment, imagine the amount of time, and or energy lost for damaged, or deleted files?
Before I needed data recovery tools, I admittedly thought the icons and packaging associated with such applications was corny. A life preserver, caricature of a doctor, or other life-saving visuals…really? I soon realized a data recovery program, such as Digital Rescue Premium and Recover My Files was indeed a life saver.
Though the title of this article begins with ‘The Best’, I must admit, there truly is no ‘Best’ recovery tool. It all depends on your situation…simply undelete files, or do you require full drive recovery? Every application in this segment performs better at certain operations. So before you download data recovery software, take a moment to answer some initial questions and learn what attributes are most important.
Here are a couple questions to ask yourself, to determine if recovery software is even a solution you can consider.
Does the hard drive make abnormal noise?
I say abnormal, because all electromechanical hard disk drives have moving parts, which make some noise as the head slides back and forth over air to find, and read/write digital data to the magnetic platters. If you do hear abnormal noise, traditional data recovery software will not work, as they cannot address physical disk problems. All is not lost, however; in such a case, it would require you to contact a service company that uses professional data recovery software.
Can you boot your computer and login to a session?
Top recovery software programs typically can access the hard drive without logging into a Windows session.
If your answer to the above question was No, further troubleshooting is necessary to isolate the problem. Next, determine if your computer’s BIOS recognizes your HDD. If not, this becomes another attribute you need to keep in mind as you compare programs. To do this, reboot your computer and press the appropriate button to enter your BIOS area.
If the answer was Yes, this may be an attribute you can ignore, pending the cost of such.
At this point, you should have determined if recovery programs will be an effective solution. Now it’s time to educate yourself on what attributes to consider as you compare various brands and versions.
Effectiveness of Recovery: Suffice to say, this is the most important attribute of recovery software. Regardless of price, it must effectively recover your files. With that said, however, remember, there may be some difference in the type, and depth of the recovery task.
Digital files are simply a series of 1′s and 0′s written to the hard drive. When you delete a file from your system, you are simply turning off the ability to see and access the file. All parts of that file will remain on the disk until you either use some government-level data deletion process, or files are overwritten by new data.
Features: There is a bucket-full of features possible with every application in this segment. It is a matter of understanding them, what you need, and what you don’t need to pay for. Your goal is to select a program that matches your need, then upgrade for personal preferences.
Here are a couple questions to ask yourself about the features…
Are you required to install the software on the drive in question before use, or is there an option to use it on a CD, or USB-based removable drive?
This can be problematic for a couple reasons…you may need to recover the entire HDD, or you may overwrite the files you need to recover during installation.
Can you recover files to an externally-connected drive, removable drive, or network location?
If you must, or wish to recover the files for portability, you will need to make certain this attribute is available. If you are simply looking to restore files, it may not be a requirement to consider. Installing the software on another internal drive, external drive, or different computer/laptop, is always your best bet of a full recovery.
Ease of Use: Though this should NOT be a major concern in this software segment, it still would be helpful to make your use of the application smooth. Selecting an incorrect option because you did not understand the function, can be more damaging to your situation. File recovery software should be easy to use, keeping the high-tech operation behind the scenes.
Brand Support: What type of support is offered by the software developer? Basic support of all software typically is ticket-based, or email, and in some cases, live chat. For drive recovery software, you may wish to have live chat, or even telephone support, as you probably do not want to be waiting around for an answer.
Just remember to start with a broad attribute list, then narrow down the features based upon the questions above and your personal preferences. Not all recovery utilities are created equal, which requires time to make the right selection.