“This software will get your data back.” Well, possibly not – search for “data recovery software” in Google and you will receive a list of hundreds of different pieces of software that will allegedly get your data back. They vary massively in price, from free to really quite expensive. They also vary massively in quality too. It’s hard to know what you are buying, and whether it will be any good. Often the software and the way they are used by the individual fail to meet expectations and data is not successfully recovered. Even worse, by attempting a DIY recovery it leads to unrecoverable data (usually by installing the software to the ‘patient’ disk and overwriting the target data).
About four or five years ago when I was chatting to staff at another data recovery company I realised that we all use pretty much the same 4 or 5 pieces of software on a regular basis. Quite simply the reason for this is that these pieces of software are so much better than the others. They are not any more expensive than other data recovery software, just a whole lot more functional.
There is one program that is a real stand out. It’s called ‘WinHex’. You can download a copy for free from the X-Ways website. However, I do suggest that you are careful – it is a very powerful piece of software that if in the wrong hands can cause as much data destructions as it can data recovery. WinHex allows the investigation of filesystems, individual files, and also permits the rebuilding of RAID arrays. We also use it to view and edit the firmware modules of HDDs too. Its usefulness cannot be summarised in a few lines of text. It deserves a special note, that until recently, it was the only software capable of rebuilding a RAID array with a delayed parity, as found in Hewlett-Packard (HP) servers. Consequently it is an absolute essential for those serious about data recovery.
WinHex is also used to find files where others have failed. It is great for picking through large amounts of data to find file fragments and rebuilding files into a complete working state. ‘Click-and-go’ recovery software does not allow for this, that’s why we can recover data when PC shops and IT support companies have not been able to.
It still has one or two gaps that I think users would like filled (XFS filesystem support), but generally it is absolutely superb. Moreover, this bit of software is only 2Mb in size. No bloatware from X-Ways!