Data Recovery preparations

3. Lost data. what do i need / prepare the recovery

Ok, we assume logical damage, and from this point on we’ll go with method 2, extract folders and files from a ‘victim’ disk and copy them to a safe location.

Materials needed are fairly simple:

* You need a data recovery software: Although the interface of the software has some influence on the process, don’t be fooled by pretty looks. The interface should be intuitive but there’s no need for it to be pretty.

Almost all software will ask you to select a volume (also called a partition or drive depending on the software used). Some software may require you to select a file system. Others may figure this information out automatically. If they do this automatically it’s still good to have the option of overriding the automatic selection: software may be confused if a drive that was originally FAT32, was reformatted as NTFS for example.

The software will then scan the selected drive. You will notice a difference when comparing more data recovery tools in the time required to scan the drive:

– Some products will be done in the blink of an eye. It eithers shows the files or it doesn’t. I regard this software an undeleter and they are of little use for serious data recovery.
– Others will be done quickly but offer the option for an extended scan.
– Others will take a long time before you are presented a list of folders and files.

Differences can be explained by the software taking certain structures they find while scanning the disk for granted or not. For example, the tool can chose to trust a boot sector it finds on the NTFS formatted disk or not. If it does, the position of the MFT (the most important file system structure on a NTFS drive) can be determined, it can be processed and a list of files can be determined. In simple scnearios this works, and the advantage is that files can be displayed in ‘no time’. The other type of software takes the boot sector into account but continues scanning. Apart from the bootsector it takes other significant sectors into account, and only once it has all the data it reconstructs a virtual file system from scratch. This type of software will be able to recover files even after the disk was severely corrupted. So, it takes longer, but is more reliable.

32 bit vs. 64 bit software: If possible go for the 64 bit version, specially when the drive that needs to be recovered from contained a lot of files.

* You need a stable PC to which the victim disk can be attached. Stable, because nothing is more frustrating than the PC crashing in the middle of a recovery. If possible use SATA to connect the disk, however USB is also an option with disks that do not show signs of physical damage and or bad sectors. SATA handles bad sectors better than USB.

More memory is better, the data recovery software needs memory to store the reconstructed file system. A 64 bit Windows version is better as it allows more memory to be used by the software. A 64 bit version of the recovery software on 64 bit Windows is best.