If you’ve tried a few undelete tools then you’ll know most offer nothing more than the core basics: choose a drive, they’ll scan it, display any deleted files and you can select and recover them with a click. Nothing too inspiring, then, but still enough to be useful, most of the time.
The free (for personal use) Puran File Recovery follows the same core approach, but just takes it further, with more options, more flexibility, and probably more successful restorations than many of its competitors.
The extra control is visible right away. The program doesn’t just present you with a list of drives you’d like it to search, for instance: instead you’re able to choose partitions, and scan RAW and physical drives as well as FAT/ NTFS file systems.
Scans are fast, and their results can be presented in two forms. An Explorer-like tree view is great when you need to locate deleted files by their host folder, but if you’re searching by name or file size, the regular table view generally works best.
Whatever option you choose, a Preview window helps you recognise your files by displaying image thumbnails, or a hex dump of the document’s first 1KB.
If the program hasn’t discovered your missing files, then you can try Deep or Full Scan options to scour your drive in more detail. This should have a better chance of success, not least because Puran File Recovery uses its low-level knowledge of more than 50 file types to help detect them.
There’s nothing too unusual about that, of course, but what’s different here is that the program allows you to customise this list with new formats. At a minimum, you can just tell File Recovery what to look for at the start and end of a given file type – <html> and </html> for a web page, say – and it should immediately be able to list any examples on its next scan.
If you do find your missing file, then it might be possible to restore it in a couple of clicks. But even here, the program gives you control. If the report tells you that, say, a missing video is 1GB in size and you know it should be 2GB, then selecting “Recover with custom size” will allow you to enter the correct figure. This option won’t always be available – and if the file has been overwritten then there’s nothing to be done, anyway – but there’s at least some chance it will help you recover more of your data.
Puran File Recovery isn’t perfect, of course; in particular, we’d prefer a portable version, rather than having to install the program first. It’s certainly one of the best free undelete tools around, though, and if you don’t have any similar installed right now then we’d recommend you give it a try.