Data recovery at home with TestDisk

TestDisk is an open source utility for recovering data after logical corruption, accidental deletion or even repairing damaged files. It is a command line tool, so there is no easy GUI interface to work with, but it is still a powerful and intuitive utility. Working on FAT, XFS, NTFS and ext2 file systems, a user can recover and rebuild boot sectors, fix FAT and MFT tables and find lost partitions, amongst a plethora of other additional features. What’s more – TestDisk even works on Xbox and Wii!

Its primary function is to make non-booting disks, bootable again – especially where faulty software, viruses or overwritten data is to blame. However the best thing about TestDisk is that a user doesn’t need to know about data recovery techniques. It has features to appeal to the uninitiated!

There are plenty of websites that offer TestDisk as a free download. Although this is a text only tool, the command line is simplistic to use. Menus are logically presented and the language easy to understand. Navigation is easy using the up, down, left and right cursor. Many users have reported that it takes longer to read the instructions than it does to perform the data recovery! Take this advice with a pinch of salt. If you are running a high specification system, any utility is going to take it’s time. TestDisk does support hundreds of file types, but if your data is proprietary it is unlikely to be much use.

TestDisk doesn’t need to be installed. A user simply unzips the archive and runs it from any chosen location. This makes the utility much more portable and of course, suitable for inclusion on boot discs! It is important that any data recovery application is not installed on the same hard drive that the recovery will be performed on. This could potentially cause overwritten data and would render these files unrecoverable. Being portable, a user doesn’t have to worry about this with TestDisk.

For users that have tried TestDisk but not been able to recover their files, they should attempt a deeper search option. This is true of most data recovery utilities. A quick scan will often not recover critical data. Deeper scans can take much longer and in some instances even days! However they are much more thorough and effective.