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Like this article? We recommend Consumer Recovery Software

Consumer Recovery Software

The products I discuss in this section are among the most commonly used Mac data-recovery tools available to technicians and end users. With the exception of TechTool Pro, all offer similar capabilities, although exact features vary somewhat. Trial versions of each product are available and can be a good way to preview the software to determine which product you feel most comfortable buying—ideally, before disaster strikes.

Data Rescue 3

Prosoft Engineering's Data Rescue 3 ($99) is probably the most-commonly-used tool for recovery data under Mac OS X. It ships on a bootable DVD and can recover individual files or an entire drive. It can also recover photos from digital camera memory cards. When recovering data, Data Rescue 3 can search for specific data patterns that indicate specific types of files. The software can recognize patterns for over 150 file types and includes a utility known as FileIQ that allows you to expand the list of recognized files. The software also allows you to preview data to be recovered, to ensure that your time is only spent on recovering data that you want. Prosoft also produces the Drive Genius 3 hard drive utility.

File Salvage

SubRosaSoft's FileSalvage ($89.95) is another highly trusted data-recovery solution. It offers three modes of operation that allow for recovering of deleted files, salvaging data from a corrupt or damaged drive, and a detailed option known as "Explore a Drive" that allows more experienced users to scan either an entire drive or free space, searching for specific types of files. Like Data Rescue 3, FileSalvage supports a range of file formats, and you can add custom formats to the list. Also like Data Rescue 3, it allows you to preview files before restoring them. In addition to hard drives, FileSalvage includes support for disk-image files as well as external media (memory cards, flash drives, and damaged CDs/DVDs).

Macintosh Data Recovery

Stellar Phoenix Macintosh Data Recovery is part of the much larger Stellar Phoenix Data Recovery lineup, which includes specialized recovery solutions for several platforms (Mac, Windows, Linux, UNIX, Novell) as well as data-recovery solutions associated with specific forms of data or software suites (such as Microsoft Outlook, Microsoft Exchange, QuickBooks, and specific databases such as varying flavors of SQL). Being part of a larger multiplatform range of solutions makes Macintosh Data Recovery an appealing add-on for businesses that use the company's other products and related technologies.

Like the other products I've covered so far, Macintosh Data Recovery supports a range of file types and can be used to recover all salvageable deleted files or an entire drive, or it can search for specific files, folders, or file types. It also provides access to external drives and offers an option specifically geared for recovering data from iPods and photos stored on a drive. This product supports performing recovery in discrete stages, can create a disk image of a drive when recovery is attempted, and allows previewing of audio and video files before recovery.

Price varies depending on licensing options, but begins at $99 for a single-user download.

TechTool Pro

I highlighted MicroMat's TechTool Pro ($89) in my recent profile of Mac hard drive utilities. In addition to basic hard drive utility functions, it can also be used to test many additional hardware components of any recent Mac model.

Although not a complete data-recovery package, TechTool Pro offers some data-recovery capabilities. These features are designed to work with protection files that the software can create after installation that are essentially a copy of a drive's directory. If the directory is corrupted or the drive has minor damage, TechTool Pro can use the protection file to help you recover files from that drive before performing any repair operations. The software can also attempt to recover files even if a protection file isn't available. While helpful in some situations, these features don't constitute a full data-recovery solution and won't be helpful in situations where files have been deleted or a disk has been reformatted.

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