Monday, June 6, 2011

top 10 Disk Recovery Software 2011

10. Windows Data Recovery 2.0.1 

Windows Data Recovery 2.0.1 box shot 
Disk Doctors is a well-known enterprise in the realm of data recovery, offering both data recovery services and software for business and home computer users. The company's Windows Data Recovery application is adequate disk recovery software that recovers accidentally deleted data and data lost from corrupted, missing or reformatted partitions. While the software clearly demonstrated its recovery capabilities, the application isn't without some glaring deficiencies.

Upon initially starting the software, users may be confused to find that though it is marketed as a single, all-in-one recovery utility, Disk Doctors' Windows Data Recovery is actually comprised of two separate applications: one for NTFS recovery and one for FAT recovery. The applications are installed separately and operate independently from one another.
To get an adequate feel for Windows Data Recovery, we tested both programs within the disk recovery software, both of which proved to be hit or miss. After selecting the basic scan mode, the software was unable to successfully recover any of the deleted files we were searching for on the local hard drive (NTFS) or on a removable device (FAT). It did, however, recover files we didn't even know had existed.
It wasn't until we selected the software's File Tracer scan (which uses proprietary algorithms to thoroughly comb a drive for all deleted and missing files) that the application produced some desired results. Using the scan, we were able to recover the majority of the files we were seeking, including an array of JPEG images. However, a few of the text documents were corrupted and subsequently couldn't be restored.
Perhaps better scan results could be achieved if the disk recovery software was a little less confusing and a little more intuitive. For starters, the disk recovery software displays all computer drives (including local hard drives and removable drives) as "physical drives," so users may not know which one to select to scan. Furthermore, it can be difficult to identify what files have been recovered using the File Tracer since the files are not restored with their original names.
While there's no question the disk recovery software suffers from some obvious shortcomings, it does offer a range of redeeming features. Aside from the thorough File Tracer, the software offers advanced scanning options to find specific file types and the ability to preview a recovered file before fully restoring. Additionally, the software has disk imaging, so users can create full copies of a drive that can be saved and used later to restore files if necessary.
Another area Windows Data Recovery truly shines is its help and support. Users can get immediate technical assistance by calling the toll-free telephone number or utilizing live chat, both of which are found on the Disk Doctors website. There is also a "data recovery" section brimming with articles on how to recover data from specific drives (e.g., hard disk, USB drive, iPod, etc.) and perform a specific file recovery scan.

Through extensive testing, it's clear that Windows Data Recovery can sufficiently restore deleted and lost files. However, with scan results that can be desultory and an interface that lacks intuitiveness and is not very user-friendly, the software is not quite up to par with our top-ranked hard drive recovery software applications. 

9. Restorer Ultimate 6 

Restorer Ultimate 6 box shot 
Restorer Ultimate is a self-proclaimed “file undelete tool” that supports recovery resulting from myriad data loss scenarios and the main computer file systems of NTFS and FAT, the standard file systems of Windows computers. While the software boasts an easy-to-use interface and a handful of useful features, its recovery effectiveness is not quite as robust as our top-ranked disk recovery software.
Restorer Ultimate offers its proprietary SmartScan scanning engine, which is equipped with two main ways to scan: a quick scan for recently deleted files and a deep scan to search for all lost files and partitions that ever existed on the drive. We tested both scans and were able to recover most of the files we had deliberately deleted for testing purposes. However, a few of the JPEG images were corrupted and were not able to be recovered. We also tested the disk recovery software’s ability to recover deleted files from removable media and again with the exception of a few images, we recovered all the files.
Like many of the other file recovery software applications we reviewed, Restorer Ultimate has an interface that appears slightly cumbersome but is surprisingly easy to navigate and use. The software has a wizard-style interface that mimics Windows folders and steers users through each step of the process. Despite the inherent complexity of a computer data recovery process, even tech beginners should be able to recover most of their files using this disk recovery software.
When it comes to features, Restorer Ultimate doesn’t offer much that’s superfluous to restoring data. Aside from different scan modes and a preview function, the disk recovery software allows users to adjust various parameters including scanning options and a filter to search recovered files.
For customer service and technical support, we were disappointed to find the manufacturer does not offer support via telephone. The reasoning the company gives for that is support via email allows them to keep an actual record of the correspondence between the company and its customers. Since email support is the only support option offered, we tested the company’s response time only to be sorely disappointed: we sent an email inquiry over a weekend and although a trouble ticket was created, we have yet to hear back from the company.
What we were impressed with is the ample information found on the Restorer Ultimate website. There is an exhaustive list of detailed frequently asked questions covering specific installation and technical issues. In addition, a knowledge base helps users become familiar with the software’s interface, details step-by-step instructions on how to perform various recovery scans, and offers troubleshooting assistance.

While Restorer Ultimate has proven to be moderate and user-friendly disk recovery software, its inability to recover some of our images makes us wonder how effective it would be in recovering an entire drive lost through corruption or a virus attack. However, with ample website information, an array of supported drives and an easy-to-use interface, both advanced and beginner computer users should be able to recover individual files that have been recently deleted without any difficulty. 

8. Active@ Undelete 7.3 

Active@ Undelete 7.3 box shot 
 LSoft Technologies Inc. is the company behind the comprehensive suite of Active@ Data Recovery Software products. Included in the robust family of data recovery products is Active@ Undelete, a rudimentary file recovery application. Despite an encumbering interface, this disk recovery software proves to be (mostly) successful at performing its fundamental capacity of data recovery.
The Active@ Undelete recovery application is apt for restoring deleted files, folders and partitions. Since the software supports the two primary Windows file formats, we tested the application's recovery capability using a NTFS-based hard drive and FAT-based removable jump drive. In each test, the software was able to recover the majority of the files we had deliberately erased from the recycle bin.
Oddly enough, we were unable to recover a single Word document. Since we were able to successfully recover other documents in the same format, we assume the lone file became corrupted during the recovery process as the disk recovery software was putting the file fragments back together.
When it comes to ease of use, Active@ Undelete has one of the most complex interfaces of any recovery utility we reviewed. The top of the interface is littered with numerous icons, all of which have to be "moused" over in order to see what that particular icon, or function, is. In addition, the software lacks intuitiveness and users with minimal computer skills will likely have some difficulty using it.
What is interesting about this particular application – but perhaps something that further hinders its usability – is its wide range of features. For a disk recovery software touted as a basic recovery utility, we were surprised to find the array of features offered on the software, notably advanced features. To begin with, the software can virtually reconstruct broken or disassembled RAID arrays and restore data from damaged RAID arrays. Moreover, the software has disk imaging functionality that can be used to create disk backups and deferred recovery for potential data loss down the road. And lastly, a text and hexadecimal editor allows tech-savvy users to modify corrupted files to make them recoverable.
The disk recovery software also offers some more intrinsic features we looked for on file recovery software including batch recovery, a file preview feature and advanced scanning options. We also liked that the software allows users to save recovered files to a CD or DVD. This way, users can avoid what the application refers to as "dangerous hard drive activity" – or overwriting deleted data on your local hard drive with the newly restored data.
For users having difficulty installing or using the disk recovery software, the Active@ Undelete website is brimming with highly useful tutorials and FAQs. The tutorials have detailed step-by-step instructions on how to complete specific recovery scans. There is also contact information for the technical support department and live chat on the website.

While Active@ Undelete was able to recover the majority of our deleted files, its crowded and cumbersome interface may make the recovery process complicated and difficult for some. Subsequently, inexpert computer users should opt for an easier, more simplified recovery utility.

7. Data Recovery Wizard 5.0.1 

Data Recovery Wizard 5.0.1 box shot 
Data Recovery Wizard from EASEUS is disk recovery software that is surprisingly powerful and effective for such a seemingly basic and mediocre recovery utility. Equipped with three all-encompassing recovery modes, the software can restore individual files or entire partitions.
After several test runs, it’s clear the software performs its fundamental task of file recovery quite well. The three recovery options on the software are deleted file recovery, complete recovery and partition recovery. A deleted file scan quickly skims the drive for any files that were “intentionally” deleted or wiped from the recycle bin while a complete recovery scan carefully combs the entire drive to restore all deleted and lost files.
In testing both recovery modes, we were able to successfully recover all the deleted files we were specifically looking for. Moreover, the complete scan rendered thousands of lost files including media files, text documents and more. The software also found applications that had been deleted; however, we were unable to fully restore the few we found because essential program files were missing.
The disk recovery software was also able to effectively recover files from external devices including a jump drive and external hard drive. While the manufacturer claims the application can recover files from devices with unknown file systems, we are unable to substantiate such an assertion simply because all the drives we utilized had known NTFS and FAT file systems (the two main Windows file systems the software supports).
Although the hard disk recovery software isn’t the sleekest application we reviewed, it does offer a succinct and user-friendly interface that users with limited computer skills will find remarkably easy to use and navigate. Each step of the process has specific instructions on how to complete that particular step and what to do next. There are also static navigation tabs on the bottom of the interface so users can proceed to the next step, go back to the previous one or return to the main home screen.
The software is also surprisingly adept when it comes to features. Aside from different scanning modes, it also offers users the ability to save a scan in progress and preview found files before restoring them to a hard drive. We were also very surprised the software supports disk imaging, meaning it can duplicate a drive in its entirety. The copy can be saved as a drive backup and used at a later time to restore files in the event files are deleted or lost on the original drive.
While the disk recovery software’s recovery capability and user-friendly interface may meet expectations, its help and support options seem to fall flat. With no telephone number listed or live chat support on the manufacturer’s website, customers are relegated to support via email only. However, a lack of customer service options may not be much of an issue given the website’s ample support information. In addition to a lengthy list of informative FAQs, the site also has what it refers to as “documents,” which are essentially product guides and recovery tutorials. The tutorials even have screenshots so users can visually comprehend each step of the recovery process.

Given our test results, we wouldn’t necessarily recommend Data Recovery Wizard to restore full applications. However, the software performs recovery of individual files flawlessly and with an easy-to-use interface, the disk recovery software is a great basic recovery tool for casual or inexperienced computer users.

6. Data Rescue PC3 3.1 

Data Rescue PC3 3.1 box shot 
Data Rescue PC3 is effective and powerful hard drive recovery software that is polished, accessible and surprisingly easy to use. With the exception of a default restoration setting for recovered Microsoft Office documents, the disk recovery software is ideal for recovering lost data on a hard drive and external or removable drives.
After completing a deep scan of the local hard drive, Data Rescue PC3 turned up noticeably fewer files than many of its competitors (roughly 25,000 fewer found files). However, it did recover all the files we had specifically deleted for testing purposes including images and text documents. We also were able to recover all 151 files wiped from an external flash drive.
Also worthy of note (or perhaps a product of its fewer scan results) the disk recovery software is one of the fastest applications we tested, completing an entire deep scan of a 300GB hard drive in less than an hour and a half.
The biggest issue we had with the file recovery software is it converted all the Office documents we were trying to recover to zip files. Subsequently, we had to manually change the extension of each Office file to its original format once it was saved to the hard drive in order to fully restore it. While the task of changing file extensions isn't necessarily difficult, it can be particularly burdensome if you need to recover hundreds of Office documents or for inexperienced users who wouldn't intuitively know to do that to make the files recoverable.
Aside from the aforementioned zip file issue, Data Rescue PC3 is relatively easy to use. The user-friendly interface is polished and professional and very easy to navigate. Moreover, all the features on the disk recovery software are easy to locate through the top navigation bar and the software has built-in prompts that guide users through the recovery process.
One of the best things about Data Rescue PC3 is that it offers advanced search and filtering options that allows users to search for and recover specific files that have been lost or deleted. In fact, not only can you search by file type but you can also specify the dates a particular file was last modified between to help locate the missing file. Data Rescue PC3 also allows users to preview restored files before saving, save scans in progress and offers automatic updates.
One interesting thing about the disk recovery software is it runs off a bootable emergency CD. We actually like this because in the event a main hard drive crashes, the software does not need Windows running in order to install and run (like some web-based recovery applications do).
Data Rescue PC3 offers users free technical support via telephone and email and has an online contact form and frequently asked questions on the manufacturer's website. Although the software is shipped with a user guide, we would have liked to see it on the website so users could easily access it online.
To evaluate the support response time of Prosoft Engineering, Inc. (the manufacturer), we sent an email inquiry and were happy to receive a prompt and informative response within just a few hours.

Despite converting Office documents into zip files during the recovery process, we'd still recommend the disk recovery software, especially for more advanced, computer-savvy users. Data Rescue PC3 is capable and moderate hard drive recovery software that can effectively restore deleted files. 

5. DERescue Data Recovery Master 2.76 

DERescue Data Recovery Master 2.76 box shot 
DERescue Data Recovery Master is moderate disk recovery software apt for users who need to recover certain types of files. While we were able to recover all the deleted files we were seeking, the seemingly complex and cumbersome interface might be an issue for users unfamiliar with utility software.

Recovery Capability:
When it comes to recovering individual files, DERescue is hard to beat. The software can recover everything from MP3 files to Office documents and virtually everything in between. We had no trouble whatsoever recovering specific deleted files from both the local hard drive and removable media. We were able to restore a collection of JPEG images, PDFs and text documents directly onto a secondary drive.
Where we had issue was recovery of applications in full. One application that had been deleted showed up in the list of found files after scanning. However, we were unable to successfully restore it, we suspect because it was missing certain program files needed to run accurately.

Ease of Use:
When we first logged onto the DERescue software, its interface gave us pause; it looks rather technical and multifarious. While we were able to traverse the recovery process from start to finish without any difficulty, some beginner users may find the interface of the disk recovery software a bit convoluted and cumbersome to use. 

Compared to other disk recovery software applications we reviewed, DERescue Data Recovery Master tends to be pretty lean on features. We were most surprised to find the software does not offer different scanning modes (i.e., basic versus advanced) and offers just a single scanning mode. There's also no ability to save a scan in progress or set search parameters for a scan.
What the software does offer is a preview function and the ability to filter recovered files by name, creation time, file size or file type. One feature we really liked is in the tree view of the found files, the disk recovery software indicates which of the files were deleted and which were lost, either through reformatting or corrupt or lost partitions.
One feature we were surprised to find on the disk recovery software is the mirror file feature, which is essentially disk imaging. The file recovery software can mirror (or create a disk image) of a drive that can be used to recover drive files at a later time.

Help & Support:
While the DERescue website is chock full of information, it lacks organization and finding anything specific can be difficult. But users willing to wade through the site are likely to stumble upon information that is very informative and useful. We came across not only detailed frequently asked questions but also step-by-step guides (complete with screenshots) on how to recover data from specific data loss scenarios such as accidentally deleted files or lost partitions.
The website states that the company will respond to all email inquiries within 24 hours. We sent a question via email and were stunned to receive a response within ten minutes. There's also a toll-free telephone number users can use to receive direct one-on-one support.

A few minor tweaks including different scanning modes, a cleaner interface and more organized website could put the DERescue on par with our top-ranked recovery utilities. However, with robust file recovery, DERescue Data Recovery Master subsists as decent, viable disk recovery software.

4. File Scavenger 3 

File Scavenger 3 box shot 
File Scavenger is fundamental hard drive recovery software that provides a powerful yet accessible approach to data recovery. Although the software is just as effective in recovering data as the other applications we reviewed, its uncomplicated interface and two-step recovery process make it a great recovery tool for beginning users.

Recovery Capability:
File Scavenger supports data recovery originating from a wide range of causes of data loss including accidental deletion, bad sectors, and corrupt or reformatted partitions. The disk recovery software also supports NTFS and FAT file systems and is compatible with all major Windows operating systems (i.e., 7, XP, Vista and 2003).
The recovery effectiveness of File Scavenger depends on the scanning mode you select: quick or long. A quick scan simply skims the selected drive, rendering just a handful of deleted files; our quick scan test recovered just 1286 files. However, when we conducted a long search the software recovered thousands more including images, documents, full applications and even system files (files created and maintained by the operating system and not necessarily utilized by or visible to the user).
The disk recovery software was able to successfully recover all the files we had specifically deleted to test its recover capabilities, including JPEG images and text documents. We selected the files from the list of found files and once restored – or saved to our hard drive – we were able to open each file in its original format.
File Scavenger can also recover files from an array of removable media devices including memory cards, flash drives, floppy disks and ZIP drives. We were able to recover images and text documents that had been deleted from a jump drive without any difficulty.

Ease of Use:
File Scavenger is ideal for beginner or casual computer users because it makes data recovery feasible through an accessible and unintimidating interface. The recovery process of the disk recovery software is split into two simple steps: search and recover. Under the search tab, users select the type of files to search for (or all files) and on what drive.
Once scanning is complete, users can browse the found files and select the ones they want to restore. For added convenience, the disk recovery software allows users to switch between list and tree views of the recovered files. Then users choose a destination folder for the restored files before selecting "recover." Data recovery doesn't get much simpler than it does with File Scavenger.

For disk recovery software that seems so bare bones, we were surprised to find File Scavenger offers a decent selection of features. Scans in progress can be saved and for enhanced usability, recovered files can be previewed and filtered by name, date, type or size.
Most impressive is the file recovery software offers disk imaging. This means it can create an exact replica of a drive that can be used later to restore files if needed. While a disk image is not necessary to recover accidentally deleted or reformatted files, it does serve as a reliable backup that can be used for potential data recovery down the road.
We were a bit disappointed the software does not offer automatic updates. However, when we inquired about it to the manufacturer, a representative told us they do not offer automatic updates because new updates saved on a drive could potentially wipe out deleted data permanently, making it completely unrecoverable.

Help & Support:
File Scavenger comes with a range of supplementary help and support options, most of which are accessed through the File Scavenger website. For starters, users can obtain technical support via email, a toll-free telephone number or live chat. We contacted the company using the site's live chat and were pleased to receive a prompt and informative response to our inquiry. The website also has a few helpful resources for users including the File Scavenger user guide and a detailed FAQs section.
While the disk recovery software's quick scan isn't as exhaustive as other applications' basic scans, it's still highly effective in recovering lost data recovered through a deep scan. And with an easy-to-use interface and simplified recovery process, File Scavenger is disk recovery software apt for inexperienced users who need to recover lost data from removable media or NTFS or FAT partitions.

3. Handy Recovery 5.0 

Handy Recovery 5.0 box shot 
A seemingly elementary data recovery application, Handy Recovery is an unexpected top contender in our lineup of hard drive recovery software, well deserving of the TopTenREVIEWS Bronze Award. Boasting a simple and straightforward interface, the software delivers powerful and unexpected recovery effectiveness with a focus on removable media data recovery.

Recovery Capability:
Handy Recovery is compatible with most Windows systems, supporting 2003, Vista, XP and Windows 7 operating systems. It also supports the two primary Windows file systems of NTFS and FAT, plus the main file system for Macintosh computers (HFS).
The disk recovery software defaults to a basic scan so when we initially scanned our local hard drive for deleted and lost files, it recovered significantly less than our other top two products (approximately 75,000 files compared to more than 100,000). However, once we selected extended analysis (the software's proprietary deep scan), it recovered a much higher number of files. The extended analysis function also allows users to search recovered files by content including office documents, media files, images, etc.
We also tested the disk recovery software's self-proclaimed specialty: data recovery on removable media. To our satisfaction, the software successfully recovered all the files we had purposefully deleted from a jump drive plus an additional 146 that had been deleted weeks ago.
In terms of types of files it can recover, Handy Recovery delivers superbly. We were able to successfully recover not only word documents (.docx), Excel spreadsheets (.xlsx) and images (both PNG and JPEG) but also applications (.exe files) that had been uninstalled from the drive.

Ease of Use:
Like our other top-rated data recovery products, Handy Recovery is just as easy to use as it is effective in restoring lost data. The interface boasts a top navigation bar with commands and icons that are self-explanatory. Additionally, all the features are easy to locate and the software guides users through each step of the process.
And like other similar applications, the disk recovery software has specific prompts throughout the recovery process to guide users along. For instance, once you select the files you want to restore and click "recover," a window will pop up requiring you to select a target folder to save the recovered files in.
To use more advanced features such as recovering files from deleted partitions, step-by-step instructions can be found on the disk recovery software's website on how to properly utilize such features.

Handy Recovery offers all the fundamental features of good disk recovery software. Aside from the aforementioned extended analysis, the software also allows users to save scans in progress, preview files before restoring, and search for recovered files by name, date or size. Moreover, the disk recovery software has a file mask to hide specific file types during recovery and shows the probability of a successful recovery for each file it finds. We particularly liked that the manufacturer provides regular updates to registered users free of charge; in fact, users of previous versions of the software can upgrade to the latest version at no cost.
One of the most notable features of Handy Recovery is its disk imaging functionality for deferred recovery. Often used as a data backup method, disk imaging refers to the process of creating a complete copy of a disk (i.e., a hard disk, optical disc or other storage device), including its entire contents and functionality. The file recovery software can create a disk image and save it to another drive, which can be used to recover lost or damaged files if needed at a later time.

Help & Support:
One area the disk recovery software is a bit of a disappointment is its help and support options. The Handy Recovery website offers a respectable help section, with simple user guides on how to recover data in three easy steps, license and registration details and instructions on how to utilize advanced features. However, the information provided seems lacking and we definitely would have liked to see more ample information including an in-depth FAQs section.
While the company does offer a toll-free support number, their support via email leaves a lot to be desired. There are two separate addresses provided: one for registered users and one for unregistered users. Response time for registered user inquires is two business days while the response time for unregistered users is a shocking five business days. There's also an online contact form we used to send an inquiry and we got a much quicker response (within one business day) than via email.

While the disk recovery software may have a few frustrating issues when it comes to email support, its potent recovery capability and highly useful features help offset such minor support shortcomings. Additionally, its disk imaging function allows users to prepare for potential data loss by taking precautionary backup measures. Regardless of your data loss scenario, Handy Recovery is an easy-to-use yet highly effectual application that can effectively restore your data.

2. R-Studio 5.3

R-Studio 5.3 box shot 
Part of R-Tools Technology's comprehensive and well-known suite of data recovery products, R-Studio is a powerful yet easy-to-use disk recovery software that offers a basic and straightforward approach to data recovery. While the software's layout may lack some polish, highly effective data recovery, intuitive interface navigation and robust features earns the recovery software the TopTenREVIEWS Silver Award.

Recovery Capability:
Illustrative of its ranking among our top disk recovery software products, R-Studio excels when it comes to recovery capability and effectiveness. The software can recover files lost from virtually any data loss scenario including reformatted drives or files, accidental deletion, virus attacks, system malfunctions and corrupt or missing partitions. Additionally, the software supports a wide range of file systems including NTFS and FAT file systems plus Ext2, Ext3 and Ext4, the main file systems for the Linux operating system.
Since the disk recovery software supports both NTFS and FAT file systems, we tested its recovery effectiveness with a NTFS-based hard drive and a FAT external device. The hard drive recovery scan yielded 109,582 recovered files with a deep scan while a scan of a removable USB drive found more than 100 deleted files.
More importantly, the files the software recovered were restored in full. Without any difficulty we were able to recover each of the files, including text documents and images, we had deliberately deleted for testing purposes in their original format.
Aside from media files and text documents, the software can restore a vast array of file types including program files, full applications and raw data. Additionally, users can add new file signatures to the hard drive recovery software's list of recognized file types to ensure it recovers all known lost and deleted files.
R-Studio is also one of the few data recovery applications we reviewed that boasts an advanced RAID reconstruction module. Redundant Arrays of Inexpensive Disks (or RAID) refers to data storage schemes that divide and replicate data among multiple disk drives on a computer. A RAID reconstruction essentially extracts data from the damaged or corrupt disks that comprise the RAID and assembles it into its original format. Finally, the information is copied to a new disk and fully restored.

Ease of Use:
R-Studio boasts a basic and utilitarian layout with a single navigation bar located at the top. After a drive is selected and scanning is completed, the recovered files are displayed in a tree view, which displays information in a hierarchical fashion.
With a no-frills, technical interface, the disk recovery software looks as though it would be best suited for use by advanced and tech-savvy computer users. However, once the data recovery process begins, it becomes clear that the software is surprisingly easy to navigate and the entire recovery process entails just a few easy steps. Additionally, though the application's appearance is a bit humdrum, its lack of polish and aesthetics are certainly overshadowed by its potent recovery capability and simplified ease of use.

R-Studio boasts abundant functionality including all the features we would expect from leading disk recovery software. From advanced scans to modifiable search options, the software provides users with a handful of beneficial scanning options that enable a customized and thorough scan. It also offers batch recovery so users recovering an entire partition of their hard drive can restore found files in a single click.
One of the features we liked the most is the flexible parameter settings that give users total control over their data recovery. For instance, users can select specific recover settings for all found files, such as "recover metafiles" or "restore folder structure." We also liked that the software conveniently has automatic updates to ensure the application runs using the most current program files.
In addition to its basic functionalities, the file recovery software also offers a handful of complex features apt for computer-savvy users. While such features may be confusing or too advanced for the average user, they surprisingly do not impede the disk recovery software's ease of use or complicate the recovery process in any way (advanced features must be accessed through the interface's top-level toolbar). The most notable advanced feature we came across on the disk recovery software was the "feature-rich" hexadecimal and text editor. This feature allows users to fix corrupted files that would otherwise be unrecoverable in their current format.
Also worthy of a mention is the fact that the disk recovery software supports all major file formats (not just files found on Windows machines), including both Macintosh (HFS/HFS+) and Linux (EXT) file systems.

Help & Support:
R-Tools Technology has clearly made a conscious effort to ensure their family of software is easily accessible to all computer users including the most green and inexperienced. On the manufacturer's website users will find a plethora of detailed, informative product guides including the R-Studio user manual and a range of frequently asked questions categorized by topic (e.g., file recovery FAQs, sales FAQs, etc.). There is also the R-Studio help section, a comprehensive knowledge base brimming with technical and troubleshooting information that users can search by topic or keyword.
For one-on-one support, users can contact the company directly via a toll-free number, online contact form or any number of department-specific email addresses supplied on the website.
On a related note, we were surprised to find the website has a feedback section, where users are encouraged to provide their feedback on R-Studio and the company's other software products. We thought this was very commendable of the manufacturer since it illustrates the company values customer input and insights.

Upon first view, R-Studio appears to be a convoluted and cumbersome application best suited for computer forensics experts and other proficient computer users. But the software exceeded our expectations and upon testing, it became apparent that the software delivers powerful, high quality data recovery that is astonishingly easy to utilize. Subsequently, its first-rate recovery capabilities and ample help and support options make R-Studio one of the best disk recovery software applications out there.

1. Advanced Disk Recovery 1.0 

Advanced Disk Recovery 1.0 box shot 
Utilization of disk recovery software may seem complicated and laborious to anyone who lacks in-depth computer skills but there are software applications that are just as accessible as they are effective in restoring lost data. Systweak's Advanced Disk Recovery is one such application, easily capturing the TopTenREVIEWS Gold Award as the best overall disk recovery software.
The software offers powerful data recovery and a polished interface that is extremely easy to navigate for utility software. The application perfectly balances functionality with usability, making it the ideal hard drive recovery software for both beginner and advanced users.

Recovery Capability:
The most critical aspect of any disk recovery software is how well it can perform its intrinsic function of data recovery; if an application lacks adequate recovery capability, why bother using it at all?
Advanced Disk Recovery can recover lost data through a wide range of data loss scenarios including reformatted files and drives, corrupt or missing partitions and deleted files. Throughout our testing, the software performed flawlessly, recovering data we had "permanently" deleted from the recycle bin including JPEG images, word documents and Excel spreadsheets. A deep scan of the local hard drive (approximately 300GB) yielded more than116,000 lost and deleted files, illustrating the software's unyielding recovery effectiveness. In addition, the disk recovery software restored the files in their original format so we didn't have to worry about changing file extensions to get a document or file to open and display properly.
Advanced Disk Recovery is suitable for use on virtually any Windows operating system. The disk recovery software supports the main disk file systems for Windows including NTFS, FAT16 and FAT32, as well as various, widely-used drives (which refers to the type of internal interface a computer utilizes) including IDE, SCSI and Serial ATA (or SATA). Additionally, the software is compatible with the latest Windows configurations – XP, Vista and 7 – in both 32- and 64-bit versions. The software can also recover virtually any type of file or folder including media files, Office documents, text documents and even full applications.
The disk recovery software can also conveniently recover data from external devices as well including external hard drives and flash media (e.g., memory cards, USB drives, etc.). We were able to recover documents wiped from a small jump drive that had not yet been written over. This is especially beneficial since users can restore accidentally deleted files from common media devices such as digital camera memory cards, zip drives and even iPods.

Ease of Use:
Aside from its robust recovery, one of the things we liked most about Advanced Disk Recovery is its simplified operation apt for all computer users, regardless of technical skills – or a lack thereof. The disk recovery software minimizes the learning curve for beginner users and boasts a sharp, polished graphical user interface that is highly intuitive and very easy to use. In fact, the software's entire recovery process can be completed from beginning to end in just a few simple mouse clicks.
Users are guided step-by-step through the entire recovery process with clear-cut instructions and specific prompts (e.g., select the type of scan: quick or deep). It even prompts users to select the target folder (or create a new one) before saving the restored files so finding the files post-recovery is quick and easy.
Additionally, all the features on the disk recovery software are easy to locate and utilize. For instance, a settings tab located at the top of the interface allows users access to scan options and filter settings to easily customize scanning parameters. Likewise, a help tab at the top of the interface enables users to quickly access online technical help from the Systweak website.

Sometimes, too many features on utility software (especially disk recovery software) can clutter the application and detract from its primary function. Advanced Disk Recovery is a notable exception of such a standard, offering a range of useful features without feeling either cluttered or overwhelming. Each feature offered adds to the overall functionality and usability of the software.
Most of the hard disk recovery software's features are self-explanatory, such as file preview, recovered file filter and search settings and various scanning options and parameters. In particular we liked the batch recovery, save scan and software update features. The batch recovery allows users to restore multiple files at once, ideal if a user is restoring an entire partition or disk drive. The save scan feature permits users to save a scan in progress without losing any files that have already been recovered; files already recovered can be saved to a secondary hard drive and when the scan is resumed, it will pick up scanning right where it left off. This is particularly useful during a lengthy deep scan of an entire hard drive, which can take hours to complete. Finally, the software boasts no-charge software updates to ensure the application remains up-to-date and operates efficiently during each and every recovery scan. Users can easily check for new software updates by selecting "check for updates" on the bottom of the main interface or through the help tab.

Help & Support:
Advanced Disk Recovery includes an array of support options to address installation issues and to ensure a smooth and successful recovery for all users. First off, the Systweak website has an extensive knowledge base and a detailed set of frequently asked questions for product and order or sales inquiries. We referenced both sets of FAQs during our testing and found them to be quite useful. Moreover, the site has multiple email addresses that can be used to contact specific departments directly within the company, such as sales or support. We particularly liked the site's online contact form. While something so common on corporate websites is hardly noteworthy in and of itself, what we liked is how in-depth the form is; it prompts users for far more detail than most competitors' websites, ensuring a user's specific problem is routed to the right department and effectively and efficiently resolved in a timely manner.
Our only compliant (albeit minor) about this disk recovery software is the manufacturer does not offer a toll-free support number, only an international number originating from India (where the company is headquartered); it doesn't seem feasible to expect most users to make international calls for support. However, Systweak compensates for the minor shortcoming through live chat support offered on the site and timely email support responses. We sent an email to the company and were impressed when we received an informative response to our inquiry within just a few hours.

Costing hundreds – if not thousands – less than a data recovery specialist, Advanced Disk Recovery is cost-effective and powerful disk recovery software that simplifies data recovery without sacrificing efficacy and overall performance. With robust recovery sufficient for advanced users and an intuitive interface that beginner users will appreciate, the software is a well-rounded application. Whether you need to recover a single document or an entire disk partition, this disk recovery software is one of the best data recovery applications available.


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