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Partition recovery software

Simple things you should know about Partition Recovery



 
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In most cases, you do not need special knowledge to recover lost or deleted partitions. This website explains partition recovery questions using simple words.

Partition Recovery

First of all, let's clear the question, what is actually a partition? Disk partition is some space of your hard drive where you can store files, documents, and where the computer stores all files needed to boot Windows. Disk partitions always have a name; it is a single letter and a colon. The most common one is C:. Just open up My Computer and you will see all your partitions under Hard Disk Drives.

One physical hard disk drive can have one or several partitions on it (CD/DVD and Floppy drives always have one).

Partitions can be added or deleted with Windows Disk Management:

Windows Disk Manager

Windows Disk Management Console

Now, I'd like to give some examples when you might need to perform Partition Recovery.

  • Computer does not boot
  • You do not see all your partitions in My Computer (some are missing)
  • You have accidentally deleted a partition

You do not need partition recovery if everything works fine and you can access all your files :)

Partition Recovery Software

You cannot recover a lost or deleted partition by simply creating it in Windows Disk Manager (this can only make things worse). To recover partitions you will need partition recovery software.

Today there are TONS of partition recovery software on the Internet. I am going to give a short review of such software.

Here are some main kinds of partition recovery software:

  • It can be paid or free
  • It can run under Windows or only under DOS (usually from a boot CD)
  • It can give you the possibility to copy files off the lost partition (preferred) or just patch your hard drive (pretty much dangerous)

Partition Recovery Software: Free versus Paid

There is a lot of paid partition recovery software out there, and most of it is not worth a penny. Companies that sell such software know that if you are looking for partition recovery software then you will pay whatever they ask to get your precious files back... Free partition recovery software is very rare, I have a link to a very good one (see reviews below).

Windows versus DOS

There is only one reason to use DOS partition recovery software: it's when Windows does not boot and there is no way you could attach your hard drive to another PC (via USB adapter or directly to an IDE/SATA cable). In all other cases Windows software would be much better choice.

Partition recovery software review

I perform PC maintenance/repair for several computer stores, and I deal with lost data every other day. I've tried lots of partition recovery software and want to share my experience.

Active Partition Recovery DOS/Windows

Price: $36
Easiness to use: Average
Safety: Average
Allows to recover partitions or files in Demo mode: No
Link: http://www.partition-recovery.com/price.htm

Active Partition Recovery

Active Partition Recovery

Pros:
Active Partition Recovery scans your hard drive and finds partitions. It lets you preview files on those lost partitions.

Cons:
It finds LOTS of partitions you never had on your hard drive. You will have to look through 10 to 50 "found" partitions to find what you needed. It won't do anything useful without purchasing a license. Its interface a little overloaded with useless information. It can alter the Master Boot Record (MBR), and this can be considered dangerous (you can do more harm to the data).

I cannot recommend Active Partition Recovery for home use.

TestDisk

Price: Free
Easiness to use: Not easy
Safety: Dangerous!
Allows to recover partitions or files in Demo mode: Yes
Link: http://www.cgsecurity.org/wiki/TestDisk_Download

TestDisk

TestDisk

Pros:
It's free

Cons:
It does not have graphic interface, and it is not very clear for an average user how to perform the recovery. It can alter the Master Boot Record (MBR), MFT and probably other important structures, and this can be considered very dangerous (you can do more harm to the data).

I cannot recommend TestDisk for home use.

Stellar Phoenix Windows Data Recovery Software

Price: $100
Easiness to use: Average
Safety: Absolutely Safe
Allows to recover partitions or files in Demo mode: No
Link: http://www.stellarinfo.com/disk-recovery-prices-fat-nt.htm

Stellar Phoenix Windows Data Recovery Software

Stellar Phoenix Windows Data Recovery Software

Pros:
Stellar Phoenix Windows Data Recovery Software scans your hard drive and finds partitions. It lets you preview files on those lost partitions. It is safe to use (you cannot make more damage to the hard drive).

Cons:
Their website sometimes crashes Internet Explorer... Program interface is a little weird. It won't do anything useful without purchasing a license.

I can recommend Active Partition Recovery for home use. There are much better alternative though (see below).

Atola Partition Find and Mount

Price: Free for personal use, $25 for commercial use
Easiness to use: Very easy
Safety: Absolutely Safe
Allows to recover partitions or files in Demo mode: Yes
Link: http://findandmount.com/

Atola Partition Find and Mount

Atola Partition Find and Mount

Pros:
Atola Partition Find and Mount scans your hard drive and finds lost or deleted partitions. After it finds a partition, you can mount (add) it into the system as if it would be a good partition. Three different scan methods are available. It is safe to use (you cannot make more damage to the hard drive).

Cons:
There is a partition access speed limit: 500KB/sec which is just enough for most cases. To remove this limit you'll need to purchase a license for $25.

This is the most advanced and at the same time simple partition recovery software I have ever seen.
I can recommend Atola Partition Find and Mount for home use — it's fast, efficient and free.

Acronis Disk Director Suite: Recovery Expert

Price: $50
Easiness to use: Not very easy
Safety: Average
Allows to recover partitions or files in Demo mode: No
Link: http://www.acronis.com/homecomputing/download/diskdirector/

Acronis Disk Director Suite: Recovery Expert

Acronis Disk Director Suite: Recovery Expert

Pros:
Well, it sometimes works... Also has nice interface.

Cons:
HUGE distribution size (over 70 megabytes); installer needs your email address for unknown reason; a reboot is required after installation; the program cannot find lost partitions in some situations; the program is EXTREMELY slow, the program is NOT safe to use since it only allows to patch the original disk drive ("fix errors").

I would definitely not recommend using this software at home...


Currently I am mostly using Partition Find and Mount Pro (it also has one significant advantage over other similar programs — it can create and mount disk images), and in some very rare cases when I need DOS I use Active Partition Recovery DOS edition. If you find a better partition recovery program, please let me know!


hdkiller


 


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