Recovering files from a hard drive with Ontrack EasyRecovery

Wednesday, 23 April 2014 by Sam Wiltshire

The members of the Ontrack customer service team see it every day: Many computer users call and need after an unexpected loss of data urgently advice. Often it comes out quickly in the conversation that the professional help of data recovery specialist is not necessary. Because if the hard disk or the USB flash drive is not physically damaged and can still be accessed on the original file structure of the user, accidentally deleted data and content from formatted hard drives or partitions can be  restored simply by software. The only important thing to remember is that you act calm and no longer work with the affected disk immediately after a data loss.

Whether a data recovery with one of three different Ontrack EasyRecovery versions - Home, Professional, or Enterprise – is at all worthwhile, you can check by using the free demo version!

Both demo software packages offered on the website of Ontrack already contain extensive analysis and diagnostic tools with which you can quickly and easily find out whether a recovery is possible and which files or folders can be rescued.

In the case of data loss with an existing access to a hard drive one proceeds as follows:

  1. Remove the hard drive and install it in another computer or connect via cable to the SATA, IDE or SCSI port. (Note: If a cable solution is at risk of a short circuit it can damage the electronic parts of the hard disk.)
  2. Check whether the hard disk is recognised under the Windows or Mac file system.
  3. Download the matching Ontrack EasyRecovery version – Professional or Enterprise – and install.
  4. Select before starting the software the first time the "Options" button and pick "Enable Expert Mode" under "General" → "Display Options". (With this option chosen the file menu selection and other functions are activated after a reboot.)

Even external hard drives, USB sticks or (micro) SD cards are not a challenge: They can be plugged into an available USB port or card reader and easily addressed by the Windows or Apple system.

After EasyRecovery started and the right medium and the correct partition had been selected, it is now time for data analysis. Since EasyRecovery by default assumes that every user wants to solve a specific problem – e.g. to make the deletion of data or formatting a disk reversed - the information about recoverable data or the disk contents can be determined with the real-time analysis.

Nevertheless, it makes sense to display the most important information about a data carrier to display at first. This feature is found in the File menu under the tab "Extras."

The most important information about the medium will be listed in tabular form: First information on the medium, partition and system type is displayed, followed by the physical block sizes of the disc and the blocks and block sizes which were assigned by the file system. In addition, information on the status of the built-in counters are available (e.g. for error messages or the entries in the manager for bad blocks and others), and even more detailed features of the partition.