Posted on 10:15 AM by Mr Peraduan and filed under
File recovery programs

If you do not have the means to physically transfer the hard disk, resist the temptation to re-install your OS. There are several software tools available which will enable you to boot your computer with an alternative operating system and then help you try to recover the files.

The simplest way to gain access to the files on your hard drive with a toasted OS is boot your computer with a DOS boot disk and then use a DOS compatible file recovery program such as Testdisk, detailed below.

Note that if you have a single hard drive with a single partition that is no longer bootable, file recovery becomes instantly more difficult. Most recovery programs will need a place to copy recovered data, and if you are using the same drive which has the lost data on it you have no guarantee that you will not be destroying more data than you save. It's a far better idea to either install a new hard drive onto the current system and put a new OS on that, or find another computer to transfer the lost hard drive to.

That said, there are several programs such as 'Winternals Disk Commander' and 'ERD Commander', that will boot your system straight into DOS or an alternate OS, then perform file recovery. None of these programs are free however.

If you have installed your hard drive into another computer, or if you have put a new drive with a separate OS into your current machine in order to boot, you now have a couple of advantages: Firstly, You can attempt to access your lost data normally through Windows File Explorer. This will not work if the partition information has been changed, since the OS will not 'see' the logical drives.

Secondly, You can safely play with recovering your files, since you now have a completely separate hard drive on which to put recovered data without compromising the source (lost) drive.

Freeware Recovery Programs

If there is one problem with the area of data recovery software, it's that companies know that a functional recovery program is something that people will pay good money for. Hence freeware and non-crippled shareware programs are thin on the ground.

There are a few options available though, so on with the list. Please read these through carefully before deciding the next step you will take.
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