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6 data recovery tools for SD cards, USB drives and more

Serdar Yegulalp | March 6, 2012
As USB thumb drives and memory cards get larger and cheaper, it's getting easier to trust much more of your data to them.

Bottom line

The wizard-guided interface for Recuva makes the recovery process a snap. The quality of the program's file recovery and the price (free) make it a solid choice for the average Windows user.

Remo Recover (Windows)

Remo Software

Price: $39 (Basic); $49 (Media); $99 (Pro). Free trial available (only previews files)

OS: Windows 98 and later. Versions available for Mac OS X.

A close cousin to Recover My Files in terms of functionality, Remo Recover comes in three versions for Windows, depending on how much of a recovery you need to perform. The Basic Edition ($39) does simple file recovery, the Media Edition ($49) can recover RAW format photos, and the Pro Edition ($99) recovers files from lost partitions or reformatted drives. All the versions are contained in the same download and simply require different unlock codes, so I tried all three.

(Mac users can also find the same breakdown of editions and usability for slightly different prices: $59 for the Basic Edition, $69 for the Media Edition and $179 for the Pro Edition.)

No matter which version you've purchased, the opening menu lets you start a search based on the type of recovery needed; if you try to do a recovery type that's only available on a version you haven't purchased, you'll get a demo mode that allows a preview of what's to be recovered.

As with Recover My Files, you can choose which specific files to perform a deep scan for, as a way to narrow the search. Unlike that application, though, Remo Recover doesn't display the search results incrementally -- you have to wait for the whole scan to finish before you can choose what to salvage -- and there isn't the same kind of "common file format" selection choice.

That said, searching for all the known formats in Remo Recover was faster than the same search in Recover My Files: It took 15 minutes instead of over an hour. Recovery sessions can also be saved and resumed later.

One possible drawback to the way Remo Recover searches for files was the high rate of false positives, or wrong file type assignments, that turned up in my sample. I ended up with a great many files labeled ARJ, for instance, even though there were none in that format on the device to start with. (Deselecting ARJ for the search fixed this problem.)

I did like Remo Recover's ability to preview individual files from its lists of recovered files, although the preview only works for a small subset of file types: Images and audio preview fine, but there's no support for Office documents or PDFs.

Be warned that if you write-protect your media as a protection measure during the recovery process, Remo Recover does not deal with that well. During tests, it crashed consistently when I tried to recover data from write-protected devices.


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