Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Features of good data recovery software

I am sometimes asked what qualities or features I consider to be important when choosing data recovery software to recommend. So here is a list of the things I look for.
  • A well designed user interface. Do it yourself data recovery software is often used by people with little computer knowledge. If it is not easy to use, it will not be any use to them; it may even do more harm than good.
  • Developed by a company with a track record in data recovery. It takes time and continuous effort to develop and refine software to create one of the best data recovery utilities. Data recovery is a lucrative market segment and many new software companies are jumping on the bandwagon. There are also cheap or free products that may be capable of some basic undelete tasks but fail in cases where the data is still recoverable.
  • Support for many different file types. The hallmark of a professionally developed data recovery software is that it can detect and piece together files of many different types, even where other clues to their location have vanished. The Power Search Technology in Uneraser and other Diskinternals data recovery tools can detect more than 160 different file types.
  • Searching and filtering. An effective data recovery software will recover thousands of potential deleted and lost files, many of which will be files you are not interested in. Searching and filtering functions will save hours of looking through recovered files and help you find the ones you want quickly.
  •  Comprehensive file preview. Many data recovery products only have a basic viewer for recovered files that typically can display only popular image file types, showing everything else as raw text data. This is useless when trying to recover other types of file such as Microsoft Office documents. Together with search and filter functionality, a good previewer can save a great deal of time when trying to recover lost files.
  • Run without installation. It is very helpful to be able to run the data recovery program without it having to be installed in the Registry of the computer it is run on. Although the DiskInternals products use an installer for convenience, they can be installed on to a USB drive or copied to CD and then run on another computer.
  • Try before you buy. Unfortunately, not all lost files are recoverable. No-one wants to spend a lot of money only to find that their data cannot be recovered, so it is essential that a do it yourself data recovery product can be run in trial mode so that you can see whether it is able to find your files.