Imagine that you returned home after a hard working day, and found out that your son had freed up some space on your computer to install a new game. And it turned out that about a half of your important documents needed on tomorrow's meeting are lost. What will you do? If data wasn't overwritten, you can try recovering the lost files. With this article we will try to assist you in this not-so-easy process.
Today we will focus on an interesting and powerful utility for file and partition recovery: Handy Recovery by Softlogica. It has a very user-friendly and really beautiful interface, and is packed with a bunch of powerful features. The demo version can be easily downloaded from the official web-site.
Installation passes by quickly without any intricate questions, and it doesn't require a reboot. Immediately after the installation you can begin the data recovery process.
First of all, select the partition you'd like to work with. It's worth saying that Handy Recovery is intended to work with one partition at a time. There are also Sessions that you can save or load at any time (we'll get into that later).
When you've decided on the partition to recover files from, proceed with the scanning process. It came to a surprise when Handy Recovery finished scanning a 20 GB partition before us counted to ten, while other recovery applications wanted several hours for the same kind of operation. It's a new feature of an optimized scanning algorithm, though the more thorough Extended Scan can be performed later.
After the scanning ends, you will see folders and files. With the help of a really neat interface you can find the needed file in a matter of seconds – just run through a list of folders on the left side and look for your file on the right. It really helps and saves your time when folder names were lost, and you have many meaningless folders with the names like "$$folder_12345" in your recoverable list. When you've found your file, just select it and press the "Recover" button. You will be prompted with a several options such as where to save your file to and how to do it (preserving the folder structure or not, etc).
If your file is still missing, and you can't find it in any folder, you may have to run the Extended Scan. Let's get deeper into the theory for a moment. The files and folders on your disk are organized and recorded in the File Allocation Table (MFT for NTFS file system, as an example), and when the file is being erased, it is marked as "deleted" in the File Allocation Table of the current partition. But with the flow of time, when files on the disk are being continuously written and deleted, it so happens that there is no trace of file left in the File Allocation Table. Even then there is a chance of recovery: you can scan all the raw data on the HDD, sector[?] by sector, byte by byte, find file headers and try fetching the file out. The file may have some parts of it missing or overwritten, but sometimes it can be recovered entirely in a "brand new" condition. That is exactly what Extended Scan in Handy Recovery does. It is a rather long process, and to speed it up you can define the file types that you want to search for. You can recover, for example only ".jpg" files or all documents. There is a wide selection of file types available, from office documents and archives to databases, CD images and various media formats.
When you've done recovering your files on one partition and want to proceed to another, it is a good practice to save the current Recovery Session so that you can always return to it if you forgot something. If you don't save a session, you will have to run the scanning process all over again from the beginning. Saving and loading sessions was implemented to avoid having to scan the same partition several times.
Advanced users can experience some more flexibility using Sector View feature to analyze sectors occupied by lost files. Sector View can be accessed using a right-click on any file.
Let's say some praises about the excellent interface and ease of use of Handy Recovery. There is a preview section at the bottom where you will immediately see what's in a file that you selected, as well as the file's state of recoverability. You can preview many types of files: images, documents, etc.
Handy Recovery can recover partitions as well as files. It can search for lost and deleted partitions on the entire drive, or just scan any part of it. The great interface comes handy here again: just drag the sliders to adjust the place when you think the lost partition was located, and the program will do everything else for you. Working with lost partitions is identical to working with normal ones. Saving and loading partitions is also implemented and it is organized like the Sessions management.
Let's do some tests. We have deleted some photos and documents, one video file and one software folder with lots of files in it. Then we ran Handy Recovery and tried to recover all this stuff. There was no surprise when we saw everything recovered in an ideal condition and with all folder structure intact. Any recovery application can do that, because we didn't touch anything on the drive after deletion. The next test was harder to pass – we installed an application (a quite large one) on that disk and tried to run the recovery again. Well, now there was a surprise – many of the files were still recoverable, although not all, but about 80% were there. At this moment, the preview and the recoverability status column helped very much because you can instantly see what is recoverable and what is damaged, without any corrupted files or strange photos after recovery. If it's corrupted, then there is no sense to recover it as it's garbage. Period. Then we tried to recover a lost partition, and then a partition after a quick format, and all tests were quite successful. The tests have proven Handy Recovery to be really worthy.
The application has many options to tweak. It has adjustable filters to hide files that you don't want to see in the recoverable list and many other useful little features that can speed up the recovery.
One more thing is worth mentioning about the demo version of Handy Recovery. It has a nice feature that everyone will like. It can actually recover files for free! The free demo version will recover only one file per day, but it will really help you in extreme situations when you need to recover a file urgently but don't have time to wait for your purchase to arrive. That is a big plus in contrast to other try-before-you-buy software that can only show you a list of recoverable files but won't recover a byte without you paying for a licence.
We hope that you like all the features of Handy Recovery and won't ever get into trouble when dealing with lost files and data recovery. And may your kids will never install any games without your permission from now on.
- FAT12/16/32, NTFS and NTFS 5 + EFS file systems support
- In-depth disk scanning for certain file types
- Option to create disk images for deferred recovery
- Shows probability of successful recovery for each file
- Recovers files from deleted and formatted partitions
- File filtering by name, mask, date and size
- Recovers files deleted without Recycle Bin
- Restores the structure of deleted folders
- Explorer-style disk content browser showing deleted files
- One-click filter button to show only the deleted files