Is Data Recovery Software Safe?

Data recovery software could potentially help you out of a tricky situation – but just how safe is it to use?

To understand whether data recovery software is safe or not, we need to look at what data is, and how it is stored. All data is made up of a series of bits, representing a 0 or a 1, known as binary data. All files that are stored on a storage device – whether it’s a text file, image, audio file, video, or any other file, is made up of binary data, with each bit representing. One byte is made up of 8 bits, with storage and memory typically measured in megabytes, gigabytes and terabytes.

When you delete data on a PC, it is sent to the Recycle Bin and seemingly lost forever. However, this is not exactly true. When the data is deleted, your operating system deletes the master file table reference, which acts as a map to where on the drive the data is stored. The data itself is still written, but it is marked as free by the OS, ready for new data to be written to it. If the data hasn’t been overwritten, then it will still be accessible, and that is one of the ways data recovery software works.

Data writing can include saving files such as documents, or installing software to your machine. There is a danger that if you install data recovery software after you need to use it, you could end up overwriting the data you’re trying to recover. If this is the case, then even a professional data recovery specialist won’t be able to help, as all traces of the data will be gone. For this reason, we recommend having data recovery software installed on your computer or laptop, ready to go in case of an emergency.

As we discussed in last week’s article on data recovery mistakes, if your storage device is suffering from a physical fault, such as a head crash or motor failure, or you suspect it is, then data recovery software won’t do anything; in fact, it will only make it worse. Data recovery software will scan your drive looking for traces of data, and this is a long process. If your storage device is a hard disk drive (HDD), then the read/write heads will be all over the place. If there is a mechanical fault, it’s best to leave it to a data recovery professional.

Data Recovery