Software Review: Recuva saves the day when files get deleted

Recently a friend of mine called and asked if I could help him recover some files that he said were “accidentally deleted” from his laptop.  “Don’t worry,” I said, “as long as you haven’t added or deleted anything else, there’s a good chance we can get them back.”

It’s been a while since I had to solve this kind of problem, and I wondered whether people were still using old-style “UNDELETE” utilities.  I was doubting whether my friend would be able to remember the first letters of the names of the deleted files.

I asked, “So how many files are we talking about?”  My friend said he loaned the laptop to a former girlfriend, and she took it upon herself to delete ALL of the videos and ALL of the photo files that she could find on the entire laptop. Then she emptied the Recycle Bin, deleted some more files, and emptied it again.

That testimony made me cringe.  So I called a friend who works as a User Support Analyst III in a big IT shop and asked what’s the latest-greatest in UNDELETE utilities, and he recommended “Recuva.” I’m sharing this story because I’m now officially hooked on Recuva.

Where to get it
You can get the free version of Recuva here. It’s a quick download with a small footprint, and comes with 32-bit and 64-bit versions.  I copied the program files to a CD, put the CD in the laptop and launched Recuva. (By the way, Recuva works on any storage device, such as a thumb drive or camera.)

On the first pass, Recuva found several hundred files in just a few minutes. However, before I recovered those files, I ran Recuva again using the “Deep Scan” option.  This time, the program ran for 30 minutes or so and found many thousands of files.  I plugged a high-capacity USB drive into the laptop and told Recuva to recover the files to the USB drive.

How it works
Here’s what the screen look like as Recuva wizard runs. First it asks where were the files that were deleted?

Recuva2

Next Recuva wants to know what type of files you want to recover. Everything – or just picture, music or other files.

Recuva1

This screen shot shows what I think is one of the most useful features–the State column, which tells you whether the file can be recovered.

Recuva3

Here’s the screen you want to see, showing that the file or files you wanted were fully recovered (and none were “partly recovered”).

Recuva4

Free vs. fee

I used the “free” version of Recuva to help my poor friend get his files back. While that version works just fine, it was a little cumbersome sorting and marking the files I wanted to keep. I imagine that the pay versions, around $32 for the Professional “home” version and around $44 for the business version, provide some enhanced capabilities for managing the retrieved-file list.  Recuva is available for Microsoft Windows 8, 7, Vista, XP and 2000, including both 32-bit and 64-bit versions.

I now keep a copy of the free version on CD in my toolkit so I’m ready to be the hero on a moment’s notice the next time one of my dumb users friends accidentally deletes a file or two or three thousand!

Have you used Recuva? If so, please add your comments below and let us know what you think.

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