TestDisk: Recover Lost Partitions And Files

The failure of a hard drive can be one of the most devastating things to happen to any computer user – within the realms of computing, at least – particularly if you are unprepared and have not been particularly diligent at creating regular backups.

Should the worst happen to you, you could sent your drive off to a team of data recovery experts, but you’ll have to pay a fairly hefty fee if you want your files back. But there are plenty of occasions when your files may not be accessible due to a no-physical problem with your drive, and TestDisk is a free tool that could get your data back without the need to part with a penny.

With this tool installed you can not only attempt to recover files, but also fix corrupt or deleted partitions. TestDisk is a tool that can be called upon in numerous circumstances: fixing a drive that is non-bootable, recovering file that you have accidentally deleted, restoring partitions that have been deleted and recovering file tables.

TestDisk is an incredibly powerful tool but be prepared to battle with the command line.

TestDisk is an incredibly powerful tool but be prepared to battle with the command line.

Getting Started

The first thing you’ll notice is that there’s no GUI to work with; this is a text driven program which does not need to be installed to run. This is obviously going to be off-putting to some people, but it does mean that TestDisk is flexible enough to run in Windows, DOS mode, or from a bootable disk – there are also versions available for other OSes such as OS, Linux and even FreeBSD.

Because there are no dependencies, there’s nothing to stop you from popping the app on a boot disc so you can use it on a non-booting system.

You can opt to create a log file as you work with your drives to help reveal further information that might be useful.

You can opt to create a log file as you work with your drives to help reveal further information that might be useful.

The tool starts by scanning for any drives that it can detect – this is the first potential stumbling block as your drive needs to be at least visible, even if not functioning correctly, in order to work with it.

Working with TestDisk will help you to rediscover the cursor keys of your keyboard as there’s no mouse support.

Working with TestDisk will help you to rediscover the cursor keys of your keyboard as there’s no mouse support.

Having selected the drive you want to work with you need to indicate where it came from – such as PC, a Mac or games console – before getting down to work. You can jump right in and start analysing the disk for lost partitions, but you can also change the number of sectors, modify the MBR or even wipe the partition table. These are great if you have suffered at the hands of a virus or some form of software issue that has messed up your drive configuration.

Recovering Data

This is what TestDisk is all about. Whether you’ve lost valuable files because they’ve been deleted and you’ve since emptied the Recycle Bin. Working through the various screens of the apps, you are guided towards fixing problems with partition – which is certainly useful – but many people will be turning to TestDisk for file recovery.

TestDisk appears to be design primarily with partition recovery in mind, but file recovery is also available.

TestDisk appears to be design primarily with partition recovery in mind, but file recovery is also available.

If files have been deleted, providing they have not been overwritten with other data, you stand a very good chance of people able to recover them and restore them to their former glory. It’s a little strange to find that the undelete option is buried so deeply in the program, but it’s good to know that it is there.

It’s a slightly hidden option, oddly, but file recovery is available in TestDisk.

It’s a slightly hidden option, oddly, but file recovery is available in TestDisk.

Unlike other file recovery utilities, TestDisk does not allow for an in-depth scan of drives to reveal a list of all recoverable data, and the list of deleted files that is displayed does not give you an idea of the health of files

Data recovery options are slightly limited, but you should be able to retrieve files that have just been deleted in the usual way.

Data recovery options are slightly limited, but you should be able to retrieve files that have just been deleted in the usual way.

It does not end there with TestDisk; there are also a number of extra tools and features packed into this tiny app. You can also recover boost sectors, and create an image of any disk that the program is able to see.

Summing Up

This is not the sort of utility to be approached lightly. If you don’t know what you’re doing it would be all too easy to make an existing problem worse, create a new problem, or even render your data all but unrecoverable. In the right hands TestDisk  can get you out of a very sticky situation and potential save you a great deal of money.

There are limitations to what the program is capable of, and there are more user-friendly, more powerful file recovery tools available, but this is a utility that excels at partition related operations rather than data recovery. Should you find that a partition, or even an entire drive, has gone missing, this is good first port of call before you start to panic.

Some of the options are a bit hidden and it is not immediately obvious where you need to head to perform operations such as searching for and recovering lost files. These quibbles aside, this is a great tool to add to your toolkit as you never know when it’s going to come in handy.


Summary

A surprisingly powerful data recovery tool that is worth persevering with even if you find the text-based interface to be intimidating.

7.5
  • sandy

    This utility is so much active to restore the deleted files. Once when I deleted files from the hard drive I tried to retrieve accidentally deleted files on my hard drive and this software actively restored my files. To know further follow the link,
    http://www.formatteddiskrecovery.com/retrieve-accidentally-deleted-data-from-western-digital-my-passport-essential-500-gb-portable-hard-drive.html

  • rickypo91

    Hiii,
    I too had recently lost some of my files recently due to partition table error. So in order to restore all files of partition I required partition recovery software. For this purpose on of my friend suggested me Best Partition Recovery Software that helped me very much. So if you wish o recovery your files you may opt for this software. It can be easily downloaded from internet for evaluation usage.

  • Minie

    Hi,
    If you have lost any partition data from hard drive then try using recovery software to restore lost partition data. The software easily recovers all your data from all the corrupted or damaged or formatted partitions of hard drive. You can utilize the software by downloading the demo version. Here are the links provided,
    Software: http://www.partitionrecoverywindows.com/restore-lost-partition-data-after-diskpart-clean.html
    Download: http://www.partitionrecoverywindows.com/download/partition-recovery-windows.exe

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  • elbert

    Thanks minie, with the help of this tool I was able to recover my missing partition.

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