A quick search on the internet will reveal a whole host of downloadable data recovery software, covering a wide range of file systems. Most require them to be purchased, while some offer a free trial, but to recover the data files requires payment. This appears to be the dream scenario, so what could go wrong?
Such software is usually designed to work on the disk directly, which we would never recommend, as there are good reasons to image a hard disk drive before undertaking data recovery. This is of particular concern when the hard drive has a physical fault which could be made worse by attempts at direct data recovery from the disk itself.
Physical Hard Disk Problems
A fault in the read/write heads, drive spindle motor, firmware or physical platter damage are problems which require the hard disk drive to be rebuilt by an experienced data recovery specialist, before a sector-by-sector image is secured. Just powering up a hard drive with one or more of these or another related failure could result in an escalation of the damage, which would complicate the data recovery process and in the worst case lead to a total loss of data.
Logical Data Structure Problems
Any software which is meant to repair any logical problems with the file system data structures is extremely dangerous. While these will in many cases result in a file system which works, any changes made could potentially destroy other data or information. In cases where they don’t work successfully, the file system can be left in an indeterminate state following the destruction of important metadata structures, which could lead to data loss.
Data Recovery Solutions
Before downloading and trying some software, which may or may not recover your data, you need to consider what the problem is and whether the data contained on the hard disk drive is worth risking. We would always recommend sending your hard disk drive for professional data recovery, rather than attempting to recover the data yourself.
Data recovery software is meant to cope with any missing or corrupt data, but sometimes the nature of the problem may mean that manual intervention is required. This type of solution requires the kind of in-depth knowledge and expertise an experienced data recovery specialist has gained from years of experience.