There are 2 types of data recovery method, bootable and non-bootable. Bootable recovery consists of a boot-able operating system, usually Linux. All you have to do is download the Bootable files and burn it to a CD, DVD or USB, restart computer and boot up from the removable storage media and you have an operating system loaded onto your RAM. From there onwards, you perform your data recovery via other software that runs on Linux.
Recommended Reading: 3 Free microSD Card, USB Flash Memory and Hard Drive Data Recovery Software
Alternatively, Microsoft has Windows Preinstallation Environment (Windows PE), it is a minimal Win32 operating system with limited services, built on the Windows Vista kernel. You are better off by booting into the much friendlier ‘Safe Mode (F8)’ and run 3rd party software from there to recover un-bootable operating system.
TestDisk is the only freeware that repairs and make non-booting hard disks bootable again, you’ll need to run it on a bootable OS.
Things to Know before Performing the Recovery
- Are data recovery utilities safe to use? Yes and No, it really depends on luck, hardware and configuration. The is a possibility that the software might cause a permanent data loss.
- Can I recover my files (Adobe Photoshop PSD, AutoCAD DWG, Microsoft Office Doc) ? Again, it depends on many factors, if it is physical hardware damage due to a drop or water, sending it to a proper data recovery center is a better option. Using software to recover physically damaged disk will cause even more damage.
Remember, if the data is important; always seek professional data recovery service if money is not an issue. The chances of salvaging data from damaged, failed, corrupted, or inaccessible secondary storage media when it cannot be accessed normally is higher from these data recovery center, this is because they have the incentive to recover as much as they can as they charge for every GB of data recovered.
Professional Data Recovery Service
- Iomega Data Recovery (California, United States and Canada)
- Iomega Data Recovery (Europe)
- For those with Seagate Hard Disk
- For those with Western Digital Hard Disk (Global, including India)
- For those with Toshiba Hard Disk (Europe)
Free File and Data Recovery Software
|BackTrack||Free||-||Live CD||Linux and Windows Hard Disk|
|BartPE||Free||-||Live CD||Windows Hard Disk|
|Linux and Windows Hard Disk|
|SpinRite||Free||-||Live DOS||Linux and Windows Hard Disk|
|Linux and Windows Hard Disk|
|Trinity Rescue Kit||Free||Live CD||Windows Hard Disk|
(Included in Windows)
|Windows Hard Disk|
|Ultimate Boot CD||Free||Live CD||Windows Hard Disk|
|CDRoller||Trial||Windows||-||CD / DVD|
|EASIS Data Recovery||$88||Windows||-||USB|
|EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard||$70||Windows||-||USB|
|EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard Free||Free recovery for the first 1GB of data||Windows||-||USB|
|DiskDrill Free||Free, scan only with no recovery option||Mac||-||USB|
|CD / DVD / Blu-ray|
|FileSalvage||$80||Mac||-||All medium in Mac OS X - Hard disk, SD, CD, DVD, Flash, iPhone, iPod and more.|
|uMacsoft||$85||Mac||-||Recover all media files - video, audio, photo, Mac Office files, iPod Recovery, Digital Photo Recovery and more.|
|Windows||-||Windows Hard Disk|
|ISO Buster||$40||Windows||-||Floppy, CD, DVD, Hard Drive, USB Stick, Flash Drive, Memory Card, SD or on another type of media or format.|
|Norton Utilities||$50||Windows||-||Windows Hard Disk|
|-||Video and Photos on CompactFlash, Memory Stick, Secure Digital/SD, SmartMedia, Microdrive, MMC, etc.|
|Recover My Files||$70||Windows||-||External and internal hard disks, in the FAT and the NTFS and HFS file systems|
|Recuva||Free||Windows||-||Windows Hard Disk and all storage media|
|-||Recover lost partitions and/or make non-booting disks bootable again. Run TestDisk on a bootable OS from a USB.|
|TotalRecovery||$45||Windows||-||Windows Hard Disk|
|TuneUp Utilities||$50||Windows||-||Windows Hard Disk|
|Data Recovery Free||Free||Mac||-||The free edition only can recover external drive|
|PC Inspector File Recovery||Free||Windows||-||The "Special Recovery Function" supports the following disk formats: ARJ, AVI, BMP, CDR, DOC, DXF, DBF, XLS, EXE, GIF, HLP, HTML, HTM, JPG, LZH, MID, MOV, MP3, PDF, PNG, RTF, TAR, TIF, WAV, ZIP|
|Pandora Recovery||Free||Windows||-||Windows FAT32 or NTFS file system Hard Disk|
|TOKIWA DataRecovery||Free||Windows||-||Windows Hard Disk|
|FreeUndelete||Free||Windows||-||Windows Hard Disk|
|Wise Data Recovery||Free||Windows||-||Windows Hard Disk|
Hard Disk Lifespan
Hard disk has a pretty decent lifespan; also, avoid replacing your internal hard disk with the cheaper external hard disk. The quality of the external disk is not as durable as the one made for internal although they use the same connector. Reason being that external hard disk is meant for occasional access whereas internal hard disk is designed to read and write operating system cache for months and years (servers) nonstop. Portable external hard disk cannot take such abuses.
Remember, backup your data on a monthly basis and always go for branded hard disk. Our favorite are Western Digital and Seagate.