It doesn’t take much to accidentally delete a file. A brief lapse of concentration, a click in the wrong place, selecting “Yes” instead of “No”, and that’s it: your data has gone.
As long as you’ve a good undelete tool to hand, though, this doesn’t have to be a disaster. And this doesn’t have to be expensive. Pandora Recovery comes with plenty of useful features and functionality, and it’s entirely free (for personal use, at least), with no adware or annoying restrictions.
The program does its best to cater for all levels of user. On first launch, for instance, it fires up a Recovery Wizard which walks you through every step of the undelete process, even suggesting you check the Recycle Bin as a first step.
But if you don’t need that level of hand holding, then you can dismiss the wizard forever and continue manually. It’s still not exactly difficult: click a drive, the program scans for deleted files, and presents them in an Explorer-type view. Just browse to the right folder and you can recover them in a couple of clicks.
If you’re not sure where the files were located, or they were spread across your system (lots of JPEGs in multiple folders, say), then you’ll need Pandora Recovery’s search tool. This is quite powerful, allowing you to search by file name, size, even creation and last modified date, so for instance you could look for everything modified yesterday. A Preview option (text or image based) gives you the chance to check whatever the program finds, and again the files are easy to recover.
And if these initial checks don’t locate your files, you can always turn to the surface scan. This can only recover a few file types – ZIP, BMP, DNG, GIF, JPG, PNG, PSD, TIF, DOC/ DOCX, PPT/ PPTX, XLS/ XLSX, OST, PST, MP3, MOV and PDF – and is much slower, but in our tests did a very good job of finding and restoring data.
We did have some small issues with Pandora Recovery. The image preview option failed regularly, with the program reporting “no preview available”. And the first scans regularly failed to retrieve anything at all on our test FAT drives (USB keys). Running a surface scan successfully restored all our files, but if you’ve lost something the program doesn’t recognise then you won’t be so lucky.
For the most part, though, Pandora Recovery performs very well. It’s easy to use, but also has some powerful features, and is one of the better free undelete tools around.