Review: 7 data recovery tools for every data disaster

From resurrecting lost photos to recovering RAID arrays, these utilities can bring your data back from the dead

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Storage media is more reliable than it’s ever been. But while drive failures are fewer and further between, technology improvements do nothing to protect you from the No. 1 cause of data loss: human error. It’s devastating to lose the only copy you have of any file -- that important document or irreplaceable photo -- all because you mistakenly formatted the wrong drive or hit Delete too quickly. It’s even more infuriating when you have only yourself to blame.

The good news is that the tools for recovering data from disk drives, SSDs, SD cards, USB drives, and most every other kind of media continue to grow in power, ease, and versatility. The hardest part may not be the recovery itself, but sorting through the welter of tools available and figuring out which one is best for dealing with your particular disaster.

In this roundup, we’ll look at a gamut of software products that you can use to recover data from damaged media, reformatted media, and the land of accidental deletes. Ranging from free utilities for nontechnical users to commercial packages for businesses, they include tools for Windows, Mac, and Linux, and they encompass a variety of use cases, from simple end-user recovery (Recuva) to recovery as part of a general system analysis (Sleuth Kit/Autopsy) to reconstruction of data from RAID arrays (Kroll Ontrack EasyRecovery Enterprise).

Whatever the nature of your particular data disaster, you’ll likely find the tool you need right here.

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