Review: GetDataBack for NTFS
Iain Laskey recovers his data, much to his relief
|Product||GetDataBack for NTFS|
|Price||$79 (NTFS) $69 (FAT)|
|We like||Works well, interface, non destructive|
|We don't like||Need to pay for two versions if you mix/match FAT/NTFS|
It's the one thing everyone dreads, a corrupt hard drive. Usually there are two choices here. Historically, one would be to grab a copy of Norton Utilities. In recent years this once great set of tools has lost its way somewhat and often fails to be much help with a badly corrupted drive. The other solution is to send the drive off for professional data recovery. This can cost hundreds if not thousands of pounds. Recently I had a drive go bad. One minute it was fine, the next it thought it was blank - not even formatted. Windows reported it as being 'Raw'. I downloaded a few programs to try to see what the problem was but they all rolled over and died in the attempt. And then I came across GetDataBack.
GetDataBack comes in two flavours, NTFS and FAT depending on what file system you have. In this case it was NTFS so that's the version reviewed here. The developers, Runtime Software have a free download version that can analyse the drive and tell you what can be recovered. To actually get the data back, you then have to pay for the full version. A great idea which stops you wasting money if it really is a hopeless case.
Having selected the partition in question, the wizard driven interface then goes and does its thing. You can select the whole drive or a range of sectors. In this instance, we selected the whole 160Gb drive. The analysis stage took about 60 minutes and at the end seemed to think it could recover what looked like the entire 100Gb or so of data that was on there. The analysis gives a recoverability rating for the file system then produces a directory tree showing what it can find. Usefully, you can elect to save the results of this stage to save having to reanalyse in the future. So far so good.
In order to prevent any problem getting worse, GetDataBack for NTFS does not write to the damaged drive. Instead, you need to choose a different drive/folder to copy the recovered data to. Luckily we had a suitable drive spare so that was connected up ready to receive the files. The Runtime web site has a download tool that lets you recover data to a different machine on the network if that fits your set up - a really useful extra.
Having then obtained a full version, the recovery procedure began. You can recover everything or use the search function to select certain files and folders only. Very little user intervention is required, it is just a case of leaving the software to get on with it. One cup of coffee later, it had finished. A check of a few sample files revealed them all to be not only intact but also having the correct folder structures and filenames. A very good result given that so many other programs had flatly failed to even try. In extreme cases where the filename information has been lost, GetDataBack can work out the correct file extension for certain file types which is handy.
GetDataBack cannot cope with CDs or DVDs but does happily work with hard drives, floppy drives, Jaz drives, Zip drives, Memory Sticks, Smart Media, Compact Flash, Secure Digital and Multi Media Cards.
Hint and Tips
Runtime Software's web site has some useful FAQs and hints sections. It advises on what is likely to be recoverable and notes preventative information such as a regularly defragmented drive is more likely to be recovered than one where the files are spread all over the place.
It is also worth noting that GetDataBack can't recover anything where there is a physical drive problem. It must be able to read the drive's sectors to work.
If you suddenly find yourself in possession of a corrupted hard drive or have accidentally wiped some important information, this could well be the best $79 you ever spend. GetDataBack works well, is easy to use (within reason - such a tool can never be totally user friendly) and is a lot cheaper than a professional recovery service. Given the fact that you can try before you buy and get a good level of expectation before handing over the cash, this is a highly recommended program.