If you are looking for a nice FREE undelete utility for Windows 7 (and possibly others), then this post is for you. I recently had the lovely experience of having my entire source repository folder deleted by Eclipse (a story for another day) when developing an Android application. A great deal of the source was under source control so that wasn't a problem, but all my sample code projects were gone, along with a week’s worth of work on a new project (another story). Not to mention that setting projects up in Eclipse is fiddly and painful at the best of times, so i was determined to get the files back rather than start from scratch. This lead me to an opportunity to see how free undelete tools had progressed out in the wild and hence do a quick review. Note that i will only comment on the tools i tried, rather than a comprehensive list because that’s all i had time to do.
A thorough list of 16 free undelete tools can be found here, which was my starting point (in case you want to research further). I started at the top of the list and worked down. Note that as soon as the files got deleted, i did nothing else other than install software to recover the files. The data was lost on a drive separate from the main drive so their should have been no chance for corruption. In other words, ANY recovery tool should have had no issues whatsoever recovering the files – this was a completely ideal situation from a recovery perspective, but it is amazing to see how badly some of these programs performed. So if you find a program that does not succeed, keep trying others you may be in luck.
For reference, the target OS is Windows 7 x64
1. Recuva – I have tried this tool in the past and found it to be relatively useless – it found a list of files to restore, so i went ahead and did so, but it did not restore the folder structure! So i was left with a single directory full of renamed files (to avoid naming conflicts) that was a nightmare to sort through. On top of that, it only restored around 25% of the files i was looking for. Better than nothing but far from ideal. I did not try the surface scan option, but past experience has found this to be no better than the standard scan and in any case, it should not be necessary in my situation.
2. Glary Undelete – I installed this program but it failed to run with an error indicating it needed elevated privileges, which immediately raised warning bells (ever heard of a manifest file!?). I ran it as administrator but it then crashed soon after it started. Uninstalled.
3. Pandora Recovery – Extremely simple to use interface and managed to recover all files that were deleted. However some of the files were corrupt after being restored – notably PNG and other image files – all text files were fine.
For me this was enough as i had backups of the image files so i did not try any further programs and Pandora Recovery managed to save the day. If you have any objective experience with any other FREE recovery programs, let me know in the comments.