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Recover Data from your USB Drive for Free

written by: Eric Stallsworth•edited by: J. F. Amprimoz•updated: 6/28/2009

Do you have a USB drive with Important Documents and Photos that refuses to be read by your PC? With the right tools, you can recover corrupt or even permanently deleted data from your USB drive for free. Read on to find out how you can use freeware tools to successfully recover your lost data.

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    Do you have a USB drive with important photos or documents which refuses to be read by your PC? You may have problems accessing data after repartitioning your drive. Have you ever permanently deleted a file only to regret it later? . Do not fret; I have compiled some effective freeware tools that you can use to recover data from your USB flash drive or hard drive, even if it has been permanently deleted.

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    Accidentally Deleted Data

    If you have permanently deleted an item using Shift+Delete and bypassed the Recycle Bin, you can use Recuva. This appropriately named application from the developers of the popular utility tool, CCleaner specializes in recovering files that have been accidentally deleted. You can restore files that are unreadable from memory cards as well as USB drives. It has a simple no frills interface that gets the job done.

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    Recovering Formatted Data

    If you have accidentally formatted your USB drive, you can use these tools to recover their data -

    PC Inspector File Recovery - If you have a USB drive running FAT 16/32 and NTFS file systems, this software should fit the bill. One of its main advantages is that it recovers the file along with its original time and date stamp. It supports data recovery from drives with damaged boot sectors which is the most common reason for losing your data. The developers page is available only in german but the software is multilingual and you can set its language to english.

    Restoration - This lightweight application does not require installation and functions well as a portable recovery tool. It allows you to restore data from a formatted USB drive. You can choose to filter specified file types to be scanned before recovery. For example if you only want to recover some deleted images you can recover files having a.JPG extension and have the software ignore the rest.

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    Deleted Partitions

    If you want to recover data from a deleted partition on a USB hard drive you can use TestDisk. It deals with recovering data from deleted partitions. It works on USB hard drives where you have created multiple partitions for storing your files and happen to delete one of them accidentally. One of its advantages is that it restores data from deleted partitions without affecting the existing data on the disk.

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    Physically Damaged Disks

    In the worst case scenario, you may have a damaged USB drive from which you may want to recover data. You can give the applications here a shot to try and recover some of the data -

    Roadkill's Unstoppable Copier - This software allows you to copy files from physically damaged disks. It has a good success rate of recovering corrupt and unreadable data. It works by piecing together readable parts of the file and padding the areas which can not be read.

    Disk Investigator - Most of the recovery applications listed here run from within the OS, Disk Investigator bypasses your operating system and directly reads your hard drive's raw sectors. It can be used as a last resort when all the above applications fail to recover your data as it tries recovery on a physical level.