What Is Data Recovery Software?

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Data recovery software locates deleted or lost data on a disk or other type of storage drive. When a user permanently deletes a file, it’s no longer accessible to them through normal methods of searching the computer system. However, if the sector of the hard drive that contained it has not been rewritten yet, the data is still there. Recovery software can retrieve it.

Data recovery software pulls deleted, completely trashed files from the storage medium in which they rest, unavailable and unreadable, and reconstructs them. The software scans for the code, from the file, that is still present on the drive — it’s just not findable by the computer system because, once the file is deleted, the computer file storage no longer has a path to it.

Data recovery software can only recover files that were initially written to a computer’s hard drive. In other words, a file has to have been saved to be in a system. That’s why unsaved Word documents are irretrievable after an outage or shutdown.

Additionally, the more a user runs the computer, creates new files, or downloads new applications, the more likely it is that the sector of the hard drive containing the deleted data will be overwritten. Professionals hold differing opinions about whether data recovery software can retrieve overwritten data, but the general consensus is that it’s very difficult to impossible.

Why Is Data Recovery Software Important for Businesses?

The benefits of investing in data recovery software allow companies to add protective measures for their important files, avoid wasting employee time, and remain legally compliant.

Protecting finances

Although data recovery software is a financial investment, it can save money for businesses in the future. Data loss can be very expensive, potentially far outweighing any recovery software costs. Recovery software, especially platforms that include additional features like backup, is an investment that can save companies substantial future data and financial losses.

Data loss can also mean that eventually customers lose trust in a company. Retaining satisfied customers also helps to protect company finances and reduces monetary loss.

Avoiding extra work

Data recovery software is also a method of preventing extra work and backtracking in projects. If a document or media file is permanently lost, employees will have to spend more time redoing what they previously made. This is a waste of time and employee energy for businesses. Very important files, if lost, could take days, weeks, or months of recreation.

Complying with data regulations

Some industries mandate storing customer data for a certain period of time — often at least a few years. Data recovery software increases the chance of retrieving important data, thereby increasing businesses’ ability to stay compliant with data retention regulations. If an employee accidentally deletes a necessary file or database entry, data recovery software provides the opportunity to salvage that information or find it in a backup.

Data Recovery Software Vendors

We highlight just a few of the top data recovery software choices for both individuals and businesses.

EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard is available for both Mac and Windows. The full package of the software has RAID data recovery features. In addition to its full paid plan, EaseUS also offers a free trial and a free version with fewer features.

Stellar Data Recovery for Windows provides data recovery for a variety of drives, including optical and flash. It’s a little expensive, but it offers quick scans for standard data loss and deep scans for data that’s harder to recover, including corrupted data. Stellar also supports disks like camera and mobile phone memory cards and an assortment of SD cards.

Recuva, offered by CCleaner, is a smaller and more affordable data recovery solution. It’s beneficial for home users who don’t always need high performance recovery and don’t want to purchase pricey, business-grade software. Though its recovery performance is lower, Recuva supports an impressive variety of hardware options for file recovery, including iPods and memory cards.

Jenna Phipps
Jenna Phipps
Jenna Phipps is a staff writer for Enterprise Storage Forum and eSecurity Planet, where she covers data storage, cybersecurity and the top software and hardware solutions in the storage industry. She’s also written about containerization and data management. Previously, she wrote for Webopedia. Jenna has a bachelor's degree in writing and lives in middle Tennessee.

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