If you lose data for your PC or laptop, you have two things to worry about: whether you have a working backup and, if not, how you can recover your data. Data recovery applications are often a last resort, but they can be used to correct simple mistakes, too, like deleting files you later find you need – even after emptying the recycle bin. Stellar Phoenix Data Recovery Professional does that and more.
Stellar Phoenix Data Recovery Professional comes on two CDs, one to install the Windows software from and another boot CD, for when things are bad and regular Windows won't load. See all software downloads.
The Windows application offers four main options: Quick Recovery, Deleted File Recovery, Formatted/Lost File and Folder Recovery, and Search Lost Volume.
Stellar Phoenix Data Recovery Professional is designed to recovery files from a volume which has become corrupted. Deleted File Recovery is for when you’ve emptied your recycle bin; Formatted/Lost File and Folder Recovery is used to reanimate files and folders from partitions or drives you’ve reformatted and Search Lost Volume does what its says, and looks for a deleted volume.
After running any of the first three of these tools, the program scans the selected drive, partition or folders and presents a tree display showing what it has found.
Scans can take from a few minutes to an hour or more, depending on the depth of the scan, the size of the drive or partition and the number of files it locates.
It can be aimed at removable drives, too, including memory cards, so you can recover files from phones and tablets, as long as they’re not on the device’s internal memory.
Once you’ve selected the files and folders you want to recover, you specify where you want them stored – the software sensibly forces you to save them on a different drive – and recovers them.
When trying to recover partial files, or those with no intact filetype, Stellar Phoenix Data Recovery can use inbuilt ‘signatures’, specific to different types of file, to determine what they’re most likely to be.
We tried the program on a partition where software is regular installed and then removed. We noted the names of several files of different types and deliberately deleted them and emptied the recycle basket. Running the application to undelete them, there was little problem in resurrecting them all.
We then tried recovering files from a partition which had been reformatted and still managed to find and reinstate most of them. Success is dependent on not having copied fresh data to the drive, of course. Even then, files from the original, recorded in areas not covered by the reinstallation may still be accessible.
Other facilities in the package include the ability to image a hard drive or volume, so you can transfer it to another PC and work to recover files there. A similar technique can also be used to clone one drive to another, to make a backup of a working system, in case of problems later.
The boot CD loads a copy of Windows PE (pre-install environment), so the same software is available in rescue mode. This saves having to learn two different interfaces, making it easier to concentrate on the file recovery.