Undelete 5 Professional Edition

Reviewed by: Mark Goldstein, November 2005
Published by: Diskeeper Corporation
Requires: Windows XP (any edition), 2000 Professional or NT 4.0 Workstation
MSRP: US$39.95 (download)

There are a wide variety of approaches to file recovery on the market today. Diskeeper Corporation has planted itself firmly on the middle ground occupied by the most frequent type of file recovery needs. In fact, and without putting too fine a point on it, Diskeeper Corporation's Undelete 5 Professional is not designed to perform miracles. Quite the opposite, it's designed to fully integrate with Windows by replacing the staid and only vaguely useful Windows Recycle Bin with a robust, versatile and vastly more useful and configurable Undelete Recovery Bin (URB).

The first thing I noticed, and the only real surprise in the upgrade, happened when I attempted to install Undelete 5 Professional Edition on an aging Windows 98SE PC. The software would not install. I checked the Diskeeper Corporation web site and was reminded that Undelete has dropped support for Windows 95, 98 and Me. I really keep the old Windows 98SE box around solely for compatibility testing, but this particular incompatibility helped me finally decide to dump the machine (and it's now happily purring away in my nephew's bedroom). Bye-bye Windows 98 and it's probably about time. So I ended up installing Undelete 5 on my main workstation which is where it was going to end up anyway. The installation is fast and completely uneventful.

The URB is vastly more sophisticated, versatile and useful than Microsoft's basic offering. Examples of this superiority are numerous and sundry. For example, not only can you set a physical maximum size for the URB, you can also adjust an aged file setting so that files more than a specified number of days old are purged. You can turn that feature off if you like and just rely on the general upper limit of the URB. Then again, the URB can also be set to stop purging once the upper storage limit is reached. If you work on multiple revisions of a document and without renaming them keep deleting older versions, URB can be set to save any number of identically named versions. Again, very handy, especially for people who are working on reports, reviews (ahem), presentations and you name it. You can also specify the maximum number of versions to save.

In a nod to the (again) growing legions of Mac users and to the growing number of people who have mixed networks, the URB can be set to detect and save files delete from Macintosh shares on your network. Very handy. Network shares in general are monitored for deletions and every delete command which originates from your computer is covered by a save to the URB. Years ago (the ancient days of, say, 1999), when typically affordable hard drive sizes (for home, business and servers) had not quite caught up with the rapidly growing volumes of digital photos, digital video, digital music and a monster Word docs filled with visual data, the notion of a Recovery Bin which not only monitored your local deletes but also your network deletes was frankly scary. The general reaction was, "Heck, what are you gonna want next? A 60GB hard drive to store all those files??" Well now ever-expanding hard drive sizes have clearly outstripped the growth of digital media and 160GB hard drives are available for under US$100, the idea of a Recycle Bin on steroids (read: URB) makes perfectly good sense. Basically, Diskeeper Corporation has decided to suck up a bunch of gigabytes of hard drive space in order to help save us from our own inept selves. Hallelujah!

There are number of incidental features worth mentioning. The SecureDelete feature is a permanent file deletion routine that completely purges every trace of a file from your hard drive. Use it with care because once that file is gone, well, it's gone. The URB won't be able to help you and neither will Emergency Undelete (which is used to recover non-overwritten files deleted before Undelete was installed). I've been using SecureDelete since version 4 and I can personally attest to the fact that it is a permanent solution. Use SecureDelete to fully erase files containing confidential or redundant or inaccurate data. It's not a toy, but rather a useful addition to any arsenal of personal information security weapons.

Cons: You can search the URB and wildcard searches work well, but there's still no Boolean search function. In really large URBs, Boolean searches could be a useful time saver in situations where you have to recover two differently named files, and in situations in which you're not sure of the spelling of the file name and a wildcard search hasn't worked.

Pros: The Undelete Recovery Bin (URB) is a completely stable, fully OS compatible and versatile tool. Its installation is so fully and cleanly integrated in Windows that you will soon forget that it's not in fact a Windows component. Once you've become accustomed to its versatility, uninstalling URB and being confronted with the standard Windows Recycle Bin is a disappointing shock. The Undelete PushInstall feature can be used to install or uninstall Undelete on machines in the same domain as the Undelete Server from which it is run. You can PushInstall Undelete Professional, Undelete Desktop Client and Undelete Server Edition. The URB search feature is extremely useful when combing through several gigabytes worth of files—the function is fast and accurate and can do wildcard searches. Whether you're using a busy home computer, an office full of computers or managing a network-sized load of files, Undelete 5 Professional should be a basic part of the installation and utilities on each PC. Don't leave home without it. Highly recommended.

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