File Scavenger v3.0

Reviewed by: Jack Reikel, January 2004
Published by: Que Tek Consulting
Requires: Windows 98 through XP
MSRP: $39.95

I like finding useful things. I also like finding things I thought were lost forever. And while the Windows Recycle Bin has saved many an accidentally deleted file, there's still no doubt that far too many files are lost each year (month, day, hour and minute) by myriad busy people who are tapping keyboards and clicking mouses (Mice? Meece? Mices? They're not real rodents after all - what's the correct plural?), singularly unaware of the file losses occuring right before their busy eyes. So what's a body to do when the inevitable happens? Ripping of shirtsleeves and gnashing of teeth does not help. Neither does crying and wailing. An efficient and powerful file recovery utility, on the other hand, can often end the suffering.

File Scavenger installs two ways - directly to your hard drive and/or directly to floppy disk. That's right - floppy disk. It's not so crazy when you think about it. The main reason for running the utility from a floppy disk is simply that if File Scavenger has not been installed on a system on which files have to be recovered, subsequently installing File Scavenger to the hard drive may actually worsen the problem because of the potential for the installation to overwrite initially recoverable files. In such a situation, don't disturb the hard drive - install File Scavenger on a floppy disk and run it that way. Very handy.

The market is crowded with file recovery utilities. I won't name them all here because this review is all about File Scavenger. But you do have even more powerful choices if the recovery job has to peel back a couple of layers of data. However, keep in mind that such deep drilling usually requires intimate knowledge of Windows' file systems and the work is definitely not for the faint of heart. File Scavenger on the other hand, is great for quickly recovering recently lost files. It works both as an Undelete utility and file recovery utility.

There are a variety of file systems and operating systems in my research offices including NTFS and FAT32 drives on Windows XP/2000 and NT4 computers. During a two week daily usage period, we used File Scavenger to recover files accidentally deleted, including files removed from the Recycle Bin, in a DOS window, from a network drive, from Windows Explorer with the SHIFT key held down, all prior to the files being overwritten by other data. We ended up recovering all sorts of files and folder paths - complex file names, Unicode file names, deeply nested files, etc. We also attempted to recover files from one hard drive that had been accidentally reformatted by one of our IS/IT technicians (man, was he embarrased - but it happens from time to time). File Scavenger has a Defunct Volume Search mode that is useful, albeit somewhat limited in function, which allowed us to revcover several important documents from the formatted drive. We recovered one broken striped volume in a RAID 0 array - just as advertised. And that was the point too - we checked the File Scavenger web site, read all its PR claims, then ran the program over a selection of goofed-up drives in our tech support cave, especially one drive that XP would not recognize that we thought was completely unrecoverable. File Scavenger recovered about 75% of the files on the drive, including some irreplaceable archives (which is why the drive was still hanging around against the hope that it was totally lost). The program works.

There's one big note for potential users. If you're in an typical office environment, you're likely not logged on with administrator privileges - something you need in order to run File Scavenger on Windows NT, 2000 and XP at least. If you accidentally delete something, STOP working, call your nearest IS/IT person, DON'T shut down your computer, get your File Scavenger floppy disk ready (if the program is not already installed on the hard drive). Don't reboot, don't shut down, don't do anything else on the computer - not even web browsing, which actually writes all sorts of data to your hard drive in the form of cookies, HTML files, and images.

File Scavenger is quite easy to use. There is one main dialog which contains several file search options. Choose from Normal (quick search for recently deleted files), Exhaustive (scans every disk sector; used for recently reformatted drives), and Defunct Volume (for damaged drives, broken striped volumes and spanned volumes). Choose a disk to search. Type a file name using wild cards. Select an output location where File Scavenger can save the recovered file(s). That's about it - click the Search button and File Scavenger does it's work quickly. The interface is simple, there are explanations of each feature, and a small but thorough online help system. If you've never used an undelete or file recovery utility before, File Scavenger is a very good place to start.

Cons: There are other file recovery utility choices which cover somewhat different ground - or at least take a different interface approach. Test drive File Scavenger to make sure you understand how it works before you pay money to register it. If you have no memory for file, volume and path names, choose another utility.

Pros: It works across all Windows file systems. It's quick and effective. During our day-to-day use of File Scavenger at least two people in my office inadvertently deleted crucial files which were subsequently (and immediately) successfully recovered with File Scavenger. Easy to use. Safe to use. Recommended.





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