|   The Modern Approach to Data Recovery

Thursday, March 15, 2007

The Modern Approach to Data Recovery

Remember the days when chkdsk and Norton Disk Doctor were the only things you could count on when recovering a broken file system? Things have changed. Today, you have a choice of hundreds of different tools offering to recover your hard drive, fix broken partitions and repair the file system. And of course, there are tools to salvage your data. With so many different tools around, which one will you choose?

In order to make an informed decision, you have to know a little about what's inside. Many data recovery technologies today were not available two years before. In addition, some of those technologies are implemented in most products, while others are strictly proprietary and come in select tools only.

The first and most important technology that revolutionized the data recovery marked was signature-search. Implemented in one way or another in most pro-grade data recovery tools, the technology ensures that you can get your data back even if the entire file system is wiped off completely from the hard drive, flash stick or memory card you are about to recover.

Before this technology was invented, so-called 'undelete' tools were available to let computer users recover deleted files by undoing the delete operation. Quite simply, these tools unmarked the 'deleted' attribute in the file system, giving the user access to the original file as if it was never deleted in the first place. Sounds too simple to be true? In fact, this approach worked quite well for single, freshly deleted files. Needless to say, if you had more than one deleted file, or deleted them a few hours ago, or the file system was corrupted, these undelete tools would mess up your hard drive instead of restoring your data.

Signature-search algorithms have changed that. Instead of relying solely on the file system, these algorithms scan the entire surface of a hard disk, or read the whole content of a memory card in order to identify any missing information. To locate the exact beginning and end of each file, these algorithms match each block of information read from the disk against a comprehensive database of supported file formats. If a signature resembling the beginning of a known type of file is detected, signature-scan algorithms can analyze the file header to identify the exact type and size of the file. Combined with what is left of the file system, this information is then used to re-construct missing data from the disk.

Yet another novelty of modern data recovery tools is the ability to safely preview recoverable files without restoring them first.

The pre-recovery preview is truly helpful when dealing with a bunch of files and different versions of the same document, as is common when saving files with office applications such as Microsoft Word or Excel.

Finally, today's disk recovery tools can combine a variety of functions such as the ability to restore missing data, undelete files, repair file systems and other important disk structures, and even reconstruct damaged RAID arrays with or without the original RAID controller present.

Among multiple companies offering data recovery solutions, Recovery Mechanic offers one of the widest product ranges. Its products range from inexpensive Recovery Mechanic that can only restore missing files and folders but not repair the disk itself or the file system, to HDD Mechanic, an all-in-one disk and data recovery solution. Products by Recovery Mechanic offer the latest technologies in a user-friendly package, making disk and data recovery available to anyone. To allow its customers better evaluate their products, the company enables the pre-recovery preview in free evaluation versions of its products.

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