Recovering Lost Data
Despite the "push-button" simplicity of Data Rescue PC3, it helps to have a rudimentary understanding of how the operating system "deletes" data. Understanding how data recovery software works will help you avoid elementary mistakes that could render the data unrecoverable.
The key thing to understand is that the file system on a hard drive is made up of a huge number of clusters of a certain size. Exact sizes may vary depending on the specific file system or selection during formatting, but typically clusters range from 4KB to 64KB.
Figure 2: Data Rescue PC3 neatly sorts detected files into category folders and subfolders making it easy to find files.
In the interest of speed, deleting a file erases only the index. That's why it takes less than a second to delete a 1GB file, but a much longer time when deleting a thousand 1KB files. This characteristic also makes it possible to undelete files, though there is nothing to prevent the operating system from reusing and overwriting orphaned clusters of a deleted file.
That's why it's imperative not to copy new data (or install software) onto the storage drive before you attempt file recovery.
Of course, many modern file systems come with advanced features -- such as journaling, encryption, compression and a range of other features -- that prevent files from being corrupted. Obviously, the sophistication of the data recovery software can have a big effect when it comes to a successful recovering your data.
Emergency Boot CD
Data Rescue PC3 comes with an emergency bootable CD, which allows scanning to take place without loading the software. This is crucial when recovering files from the primary hard drive of a laptop, for example, that does not already have Data Rescue PC3 installed, or when the laptop won’t boot.
After booting from the CD, Data Rescue PC3 automatically accesses the drive and a wizard provides guidance through the data recovery process. You can then copy the files selected for recovery to a second HDD, an external USB or FireWire hard drive, or through the network. You need a minimum of 64MB of RAM to use the boot CD, and that the use of full disk encryption on the HDD will prevent this approach from working.
Conclusion: Data Rescue PC3
We really like how Data Rescue PC3 automatically sorts out discovered files based on file type. The emergency boot CD is a nice touch, though a bootable USB may be more useful as optical drives continue to be phased out.
Overall, Data Rescue PC3 is a polished piece of software that works as advertised. And at a price of just $99, it is certainly a worthwhile tool to keep in your small business IT arsenal.
Paul Mah covers technology for SMBs for Small Business Computing and for IT Business Edge. He also shares his passion for and knowledge of everything from networking to operating systems as an instructor at Republic Polytechnic in Singapore, and is a contributor to a number of tech sites, including Ars Technica and TechRepublic.
|Do you have a comment or question about this article or other small business topics in general? Speak out in the SmallBusinessComputing.com Forums. Join the discussion today!|