Even if you follow “extreme” precautions, accidents happen. For instance, recently (it was yesterday actually), being a bit hectic ;-), I accidentally deleted a file in Windows, which was mistaken for another that I wanted to delete for real. But I later got it back as I acted upon it quite quickly and until I recovered the file, I made sure not to copy-move or not to “touch” that partition in general, which heavily increases your chances of data recovery under most circumstances.
Anyhow, the thing is, having some sort of a data recovery tool is a must these days (duh ;-)). There are an awful lot of utilities that you can try these days. Some premium ones have a lot of features and are quite powerful too (plus supports a lot of file systems). However, if you primarily use NTFS as your file system and looking for an extremely simple, portable data recovery tool, then “FreeRecover” is a pretty handy tool.
As I put in the title, this only supports the NTFS file system, so it won’t work on any other file systems (obviously).
Main features …
*. A simple UI that lets you select your preferred location (only supports selecting partitions, we can’t manually locate folders, which should’ve helped to speed things up a bit while searching for a large disk for instance).
*. Has the ability to retrieve the original file path.
*. Show each file’s “health” or integrity. If under “File Integrity” it says “Excellent”, then you’ll have a real chance of recovering it fully. Although this is not always true as it showed “Excellent” for some images that I had deleted few days ago, and they weren’t read-able after recovering (but it was able to recover most of them, as shown in the screenshot). However, most of the time it’s quite accurate.
*. Shows file MFT sector address (it’s sort of an index that of your data in the partition/HDD that NTFS uses, in simple terms).
*. Shows file previews (not applicable for large files, even if they’re 100% recoverable).
*. Search for files, including their extensions. Now again, it does have the ability to retrieve the original file name, but there could be times where the name is something totally different (or missing). In those cases you can use the extension in the “Search” box to find it from the bunch in the scanned list.
*. Finally, you can click the “check-box” in front of the files and click on the large “Recover Files” at the right bottom corner to recover (always make sure to use a different partition or a HDD for saving the recovered files. Never use the same folder or the partition for saving those files).
Does it work?
Well, no utility in the world can give you a 100% guarantee, however, other than a one time, I deleted several MP3 files, one setup file, and a large video file (HD), each in separate instances.
And “FreeRecover” did recover them, all! (including few images that were deleted few days ago). But as said, the MP3 file and the setup file lost their original names, but the integrity was 100% (including its meta-data) as I could listen to the audio file (from start to the end) and successful installed the application using the recovered setup file. And the video file was actually fully recovered including its original name.
One time, after deleting a file, I even copied a large file into that partition (which should make it harder for a recovery tool to find deleted files as it could overwrite the deleted file’s sectors), still “FreeRecover” was able to recover my MP3 file. But I guess I’m being a bit lucky here, rather than “FreeRecover” being the winner, because perhaps Windows didn’t overwrite the deleted file’s selectors in that HDD partition.
But after using it for a while, I’m pretty happy with its results nonetheless.
So, if you want a completely free and a portable data recovery tool that has a quite minimal UI and somewhat limited functionality, and okay with it being NTFS only, then “FreeRecover” is pretty decent tool that you can run under Windows. However, please remember that, this is basic tool thus might not be as powerful as some of the commercial ones as they come with a lot of features and file system support etc. But for its purpose (plus considering the fact that it’s free), it’s pretty good nonetheless.
You can get it from this “FreeRecover” home page.
But again, please remember that,as said before, no data recovery tool can give you 100% guarantee when it comes to data recovery, so before you delete something, think twice (and try not to use “Shift” key as it bypasses sending files to the Recycle-bin), as it could be the last time you ever see them (scary stuff mates! ;-)). Good luck.