Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Consideration Before you Buy Data Recovery Software

Before you purchase a software package off the shelf at your local computer store to try to rescue your drive, know what to look for. There are six important issues to understand with regard to drive-checking and/or data-recovery software:

It must work from a floppy. If you buy a hard drive repair or recovery program that principally works from the hard drive itself (meaning, you have to install and run it from the problem hard drive), you may be stuck up the proverbial creek if you can’t access the hard drive enough to run the software. You need to get software that will run in emergency mode from a floppy disk. Make sure to add this disk to your PC Recovery Resource Kit.

You must be able to undo the changes it makes. Some of the best drive-checking and data-recovery software includes a feature that allows you to undo changes it may make as part of the recovery process. This is useful because you may discover later that the changes may not have corrected a problem and you need a way to undo them. Check the documentation carefully before using it to make sure you can reverse the changes.

It must support your version of Windows and your file system. Make sure the software you choose is compatible with your version of Windows and that it supports your file system type. Your file system type is probably FAT32, although some drives use FAT16 or the NTFS format available in Windows NT and XP.

It shouldn’t write to the problem drive. You have a problem if you use software that works by writing “recovered” files back to the drive you’re trying to salvage. Most good utilities only read from the problem drive; they write any recovery files to another drive or media type such as a floppy.

Use the software as directed. You generally can’t pick and choose what functions the software performs because there are set procedures it must follow to do its work. Read the documentation and follow the instructions carefully.

Make sure you understand what it can and can’t fix. The type of drive-recovery software you can either download as shareware or purchase off the shelf in your local computer store isn’t designed to salvage files off a physically damaged drive. For that, you need a drive-recovery service that uses sophisticated electronics and special tools to retrieve data, and their success rate can differ from drive condition to drive condition.

WarningIf after reading the documentation and the web site supporting the product, you still can’t figure out how to use the software, don’t use it. This is not a good area in which to guess.

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