The first tool on my list is PhotoRec from CGSecurity.org. Although the tool is called PhotoRec (short for Photo Recovery), this tool will recover any type of file that was lost. PhotoRec and it’s companion tool TestDisk are bundled together.
TestDisk is meant for fixing lower level hard drive issues including lost or corrupt partition tables and boot records. PhotoRec is focused on file recovery.
Downloading and installing is pretty simple. The two tools are bundled in a Zip file. Unzip the file and go under the Win directory and you’re ready to run the PhotoRec executable. Although the user interface is console based, it uses DOS-like menus for navigation.
Doing a thorough scan found 254 recoverable files on my hard drive. After the scan, you can enter in a path for files to be saved and all of them will be saved to that location.
The tool is easy to use and certainly thorough, although several of the files it recovered weren’t really usable files. It did recover all of my test deleted files though. The one complaint I have with PhotoRec is that it doesn’t appear to use the original file names when recovering your files. It’s a minor quibble.
You can find PhotoRec (and TestDisk) here: http://www.cgsecurity.org/wiki/PhotoRec