The way I stumbled upon Easus is a long story, but I will give you the shortened version of it here. After complaints from my wife and children that our desktop, a computer I rarely use, was slowing down, I decided to do a complete Windows reinstall, wiping out everything and starting fresh.
To do so, I used a free program known as Derrick’s Boot and Nuke, or “DBAN” for short. It is thorough. After booting to DBAN from an ISO on a CD, I set all drives to “wipe”. DBAN works very well. It erases everything to the point that it is unrecoverable. Unfortunately, one of those drives that was erased was my wife’s thumb drive, which contained files she had inexplicably stored nowhere else.
Panic lead me to a free app from Easus, a company I was already familiar with. A free app called Data Recovery promised to make every attempt to recover those lost files.
First head over to the Easus web site to download the app. There is a free version which will recover up to one GB of data — since this little Kingston portable drive contained only Word documents it was likely less than that. However, if you need to recover more data then you will need to buy the full version of the software.
“EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard Free will solve all data loss problems – recover files emptied from Recycle Bin, or lost due to software crash, formatted or damaged hard drive, virus attack, lost partition and other unknown reasons. Moreover, it can recover data from formatted partitions with original file names and storage paths back.”
Once launched the initial dashboard is simple — it contains only three options. Those are Deleted File Recovery, Complete Recovery and Partition Recovery.
There is, of course, also the ability to upgrade to the full, paid version. For that I recommend waiting until you see if the app will be successful or not.
In my case I needed to launch Partition Recovery. This would not be easy given that when the drive was inserted I received a pop-up message telling me that the drive needed to be formatted before it could be used. That meant the file system was completely gone.
I clicked on Partition Recovery and crossed my fingers. Here you will be greeted with a list of files. By default it is set to “Search all lost files automatically”. There is also an option to “Search lost files by type” and then a list of file types can be chosen from. However, in this case, we need to look for all of them and that means leaving it set to the default — “search all lost files automatically”.
Depending on the size of the drive you are searching, this could take a few minutes or much more. The four GB thumb drive took about ten to fifteen minutes — I did not time it specifically.
Once the scan completes you will, hopefully see a list of recoverable files in the left column. From there you can select the files you want and move them to the right pane.
In this case, I had no luck — this is not to say that the program itself is a failure. I believe it is more of a testament to the thoroughness of DBAN which, as I said, is the program I used to wipe this drive.
From here you can choose between file systems like FAT 12, 16 and 32, NTFS, Common and RAW. By default, almost all of these are checked and you will likely want to leave them that way.
Going back to the home screen, you will find that the “Backup Tool” will simply open a web page that will prompt you to purchase a separate tool from Easus. The WinPE option does the same. This is for upgrading to the paid version of Easus Data Recovery.
Complete Recovery, while it may sound like the perfect option, actually does not detect USB or E-SATA drives, nor Mapped Network Drives.
Deleted File Recovery will search for files that were inadvertently deleted, but will not help with drives, such as the one in my case, that have been formatted or otherwise wiped.
While Easus Data Recovery Free failed to work in my case, as I previously stated, I believe this was more of a case of how good Derrick’s Boot and Nuke works as opposed to any shortcoming of the app. Plus, given that it is free and contains no malware or browser toolbars, it is certainly worth trying.
There are also several other free recovery programs available online that came highly recommended — Undelete Plus, PC Inspector File Recovery and Restoration to name just three. There are also countless paid ones, some of which perform forensics on the drive and those can run into the thousands of dollars.
If your data is extremely precious — something like family photos that can not be replaced, then you may be willing to spend a fortune. There are also third-party services, like Drive Savers, that can also run into the thousands, given the methods involved — a clean room and taking apart the drive to try and fix broken parts — though that is for spinning drives and not USB.
In the end, it comes down to what you are comfortable trying and spending and how badly you want back the data. In my case, it is not enough to try any software that is not free. I will be trying the others I mentioned in the future and will report on those and let you know if any were successful in this quest.