We all back up our data, right? That's what everyone does! But of course, that's far from true. Most people don't get much further than thinking about putting a backup plan in place, promising themselves it's something they'll sort out one day -- and, all of a sudden, it's too late.
Deleting files by accident is easily done. If you're tinkering with partitions, it's also scarily easy to wipe out the wrong one! These are just two of the ways in which you can lose files, and if you don’t have a backup to hand, you're going to need help from a data recovery tool. Here we look at five of the best free options to help bring your files back from the dead.
In a sense it can be hard to judge the quality of a data recovery app. To a large degree success rates are determined by the quality of the data that you're trying to recover. If you're relying on software to get your data back, you will have to accept that there are some situations that apps simply cannot cope with -- such as when data has been overwritten numerous times, or in the case of severe physical damage. You may still be able to get your data back by calling in the experts, but this can be an expensive option.
It makes perfect sense to try going down the free route first of all, so here -- in no particular order, as different situations require different apps -- are five free data recovery tools that might just do the trick:
EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard Free (www.easeus.com)
Using the program is very simple. Just choose a drive to scan, specify a particular folder to look in if you want, and sit back and wait. Once the drive scan is complete, you can filter through the files that have been found based on location or file type, or you can search for the name of a file you're looking to get back. If you don't find what you want initially, you can wait a bit longer (well… a lot longer) while a deep scan completes. There's no system to let you know of the chances of recovery -- although there is a file preview option -- so you'll just have to try and hope for the best.
Recovery itself is quick and painless, so it's well worth giving EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard Free a try to see if it can get back the files you need.
Piriform Recuva (www.piriform.com)
There's a deep or quick scan available, and unless you're in a particular hurry, there's little reason not to opt for the more in-depth option -- although you may find that this not only takes a while, but also results in a massive list of recoverable files... of varying quality.
When results are shown, you can quickly judge the quality -- and chances of successful recovery -- thanks to Recuva's traffic light indicator system. There's also an integrated file previewer so you can check exactly what a file is before you commit to restoring it. While this is a simple, accessible tool, you're afforded a decent level of control over the scanning and recovery process regardless of whether you opt for the wizard or advanced mode.
Disk Drill (www.cleverfiles.com)
As with EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard, the free version of Disk Drill restricts you to recovering 500MB of data. If you need more than this, you'll have to shell out $89 on the Pro version. This paid-for edition also opens up more scanning options and support for a wider range of disk formats. It's worth noting that there's a Mac version of the software available too.
PC INSPECTOR File Recovery (www.pcinspector.de)
A key advantage of PC INSPECTOR File Recovery -- if you choose to view it as such -- is that should the program fail to get back your data, or you have a drive with a mechanical problem that needs looking at, the software serves as an easy point of contact for the Convar data recovery team. However, you are likely to find that in case where there is no physical issue or damage, the program fares very well indeed.
Wise Data Recovery (www.wisecleaner.com)
Like some of the other recovery tools we've looked at, Wise Data Recovery uses a traffic light system to indicate the quality of files, and there's also a built-in file viewer -- although this is only really of any use for text-based files. Scans are pretty fast to complete, and in test the program did a good job of getting back the files we were looking for.
Have we missed any free recovery tool that you would recommend? Let us know if you have a favorite app that you turn to in your hour of need.