If you want the best shot at retrieving lost data without resorting to a service, R-Studio Data Recovery is the bullet.
There are a lot of file recovery programs out there that can try to recover your files from a damaged drive. There are even free ones, but when your vital data is on the line, R-Studio Data Recovery is quite possibly your best bet. Not only does R-Studio Data Recovery work with FAT and NTFS partitions, it understands all the Linux, Unix (BSD), and Mac OS file systems, and even the new ReFS (Resilient File System) used in Windows Server 2012. It also copies and creates images of drives, and will recover data from said images--a crucial ability when a drive is deteriorating.
R-Studio 6.2 looks a great deal like a disk defragmenter, with a list of drives in the left-hand tree and a sector-block map on the right. Once you're accustomed to it, is easy to use. You can see each block change color as it is scanned, and again if it finds something. It's a nice bit of visual feedback. The interface is rather technical in its language and options, but so is the task it's performing. The only tricky part is figuring out that everything is listed in tabs and on a directory tree. I'd like to see a dialog that says "go here" upon the completion of a scan, but if you're in the habit of checking the tree for all things, navigation is simple.
Like its competitors, R-Studio can undelete a file you trashed by accident. However, based on the program terminology, in which it's referred to as "open drive files," you might not ever find it. It's far quicker than a sector scan and good for a simple undo. On the other end of the sophistication spectrum, it will create virtual RAID volumes using disks from a failed RAID array so you can (hopefully) recover data. Most consumer-level recovery programs won't let you get near a RAID array.
R-Studio Data Recovery comes in three editions. I tested the $80 single-seat edition, which works on drives attached to the running computer. There's the $180 Network edition for recovering across a network. There's also a $900 Technician's license, which may be used freely on any computer and across the network. All provide a bootable CD version as well.
R-Studio Data Recovery the gold standard in software-based, sector-by-sector data recovery. It's pricey, but it's a big-dog tool, and it's especially handy if you're working in a multi-platform environment. If the data still exists somewhere on the drive, R-Studio Data Recovery should recover it.
Note: The Download button on the Product Information page will download the software to your system.
This story, "R-Studio recovers data when others won't" was originally published by PCWorld.
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