Restore deleted files with the light version of this trusted utility
Windows 8 / Windows 7 / Windows Vista / Windows XP / Windows 2000 / Windows 98 SE / Windows 98
Consistently rated by experts among the top five free data recovery software packages, Recuva makes a tedious task about as easy as possible. Now it comes in a portable version, too.
Once in a while everyone accidentally deletes some files that they would like to get back. After watching a few seasons of TV murder mysteries most people know that everything still in the Windows Recycle Bin gets restored with one click. What most people don’t know—and maybe law enforcement would prefer that some people didn't learn—is that unless the data has been overwritten by new files, it’s all still there. Usually, the filename is still there, too. Even if parts of the desired file have been overwritten all or part of it may still be recoverable.
For new users Recuva comes in both permanent and portable versions. More and more software utilities come in portable versions these days. With so much malware around, vendors understand the reluctance of security conscious users to install software to their hard drives. Then too, the ever expanding capacity of USB stick memory makes it less and less likely that users will want to lug CD’s or DVD’s from computer to computer, even if they had the rights necessary to install software to a guest computer. Likewise, if a damaged computer won’t boot but the USB ports will, portable data recovery software may be able to recover files in an emergency.
Recuva isn't the only data recovery software in the marketplace, but it is the most complete product that is easy to install, wizard driven, and easy to use. After clicking on the Recuva icon, the software opens to an optional wizard. A check box lets the user permanently suppress the wizard option in favor of running in advanced mode. Hitting ‘Next’ starts the wizard, while ‘Cancel’ goes to the advanced mode. The user interface is so simple that most users won’t find any advantage in using the advanced mode, but to each their own.
First up in the wizard, Recuva presents the user with a radio button dialog to select the type of the lost files. In both time and money, these days accidentally deleted music or video files may be every bit as valuable as documents or email. One unfortunate weakness of the program is that ‘Documents’ does not include archives and the dialog box doesn't permit multiple choices. Thus, if the files were probably compressed using WinZip, WinRar, or another archiving program either select ‘All Files’ or plan to run the program more than once.
Next, select the probable location for the files. Recuva presents the Recycle Bin, My Documents, and Media Cards as options. Yet, users can also choose to search everywhere on the computer or in a specific location. Use caution. Recuva assumes that the user wants the files back and doesn't risk having them overwritten by random access operations. As a result, it uses a lot of resources. Scanning flash memory may be particularly slow, but a deep scan of a heavily used hard disk drive can take quite a while too, especially in Deep Scan mode, which is an optional check box on the next screen of the wizard.
Once the scan completes Recuva presents a sortable list of the files it found. The software uses a Red-Yellow-Green light to show the probability that the files are unrecoverable, partially recoverable, or full recoverable. Put another way, the indicator estimates the chance of recovering a file. Not all files that get a green light contain recoverable data. Red-light files almost certainly do not.
On selecting the files, Recuva offers both the option of recovering them or permanently deleting them. For the same reason that Recuva assumes that the user won’t be using the program in the background, it issues a warning for attempting to restore files to the same disk drive. Restoring to the same random access drive risks overwriting some of the lost files. Use common sense both restoring or permanently deleting files.
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