How Does Data Recovery Software Work?

data recovery software Most computer users aren’t even aware that data recovery software exists until they need to use it because of a hard drive failure or other accident. This can lead to poor decisions, since losing data can make people emotional. A user who is faced with a total loss of their personal or business data might choose the first data recovery software that they come across, unaware that there are other options in the hurry to get data recovered quickly. It is never a good idea to download or use the software without doing research first, as not all software is created equal. Especially with lost data incidents, doing so can make the problem worse.

Sometimes it is just better to leave it to the professionals, such as, to do your data recovery.

Let’s look at how data recovery software works, as knowing the keys to data recovery through software will lead to a more informed decision and a greater likelihood of data recovery success.

The Method Data is Saved is Key to Data Recovery Software

Data file management occurs in two parts: data and system. The data area is the actual data, and the system area is the part of a device that saves the location of data, like an address book. When a user requests a file, the system area checks where the file is located then goes to the data area where the data is physically stored. If the system becomes corrupted, it is most likely the system area that is not working correctly. The data is still there, but its ‘address’ has been lost because the system area is damaged. Data recovery software scans the system looking for areas where the missing data has been saved.

The second part to data file management is if the system area is corrupt and does not know where data is saved, it may save new data over the original location of the old data. This is called overwriting the data. Overwritten data is virtually impossible to retrieve unless the original data is also saved in a second area. For this reason, it is critical to stop using a corrupt system as soon as a data loss problem is suspected.

Data recovery software is most useful in situations where:

  • A hard drive has been reformatted
  • A file or directory was accidentally deleted, or otherwise cannot be found
  • The hard drive will not boot or throws an inaccessible message
  • There is a corrupted or damaged partition

If a data area is irrecoverably damaged, such as with a mechanical failure that caused the magnetic coating where data is saved to be scratched, data recovery software is not likely to be successful since the question is not where the data is, but rather what the data is; if the data itself is damaged, the system cannot read it, and the data requires physical repair to restore.

How to Choose Data Recovery Software

There are literally hundreds of companies offering data recovery software, so the choice is not easy. There are several factors for users to consider:

  • The type of operating system used (Windows/Lion/Unix etc.). Not all data recovery software will work on a given system.
  • The type of hard drive or device used. Again, data recovery software may not work for all hard drives, arrays, or devices.
  • The type of data that is missing. Data recovery software may not be able to locate or read all file formats.

As there is a great deal of competition, data recovery software providers are constantly updating their programs, offering incentives and special offers to users. However, all data recovery software should have a basic set of attributes to be considered reliable:

  • A published success rate. No company truly has a 100% success rate. A more typical success rate would be between 50 and 70%. Be wary of companies with low success rates.
  • Cost based on success. Most reputable companies offer a demo version of their software. The demo will reveal how much of the lost data the program is able to recover; in order to actually recover the located files, the software must be purchased.
  • A good reputation. Data recovery software providers can be reputable, or they can be fly-by-night operations. It is extremely important for users to do their research to avoid using a program that will only make the problem worse, or cause additional problems!

Choosing data recovery software can be difficult, especially when the person who lost data is frustrated, worried, upset, or all three. Be sure not to make any rash decisions when dealing with data recovery software, since the success of the operation is dependent on the quality of the software and the software provider.