disk utilities

O&O DiskImage 11 Pro For Just US$ 10 – World Backup Day!

Well, this is one heck of a sale. If you don’t already have a backup program in place, or you need to upgrade, O&O DiskImage is a solid product and this is a fantastic price. I don’t believe they’ve ever offered it for this low.

DiskImage does more than just back up files, it’s also a tool for disk cloning including the system files, disk images to make a complete copy of the entire disk and can create a recovery disk.

About the only thing I don’t like is their new UI. They continue this trend of making an interface drawn by a child. It’s so juvenile as to distract from the power of their application. Some may like it, but I’m not a fan.

O&O DiskImage 11 lets you back up an entire computer or single files whenever you want – even while the computer is being used. In the event you should lose your personal data it can be quickly restored with just a few mouse clicks – even when Windows is no longer able to start. It also supports SSD drives and the latest UEFI System.

O&O DiskImage lets you carry out a system restore and to duplicate or clone an entire PC or hard drive. You can even restore this backup onto a computer whose hardware is different from the original machine, for instance, where you have changed a motherboard on the target machine or have bought a brand new PC and want to restore an old backup onto it.

To be safe and not sorry you can get the new O&O DiskImage 11 Pro for just US$ 10, or O&O DiskImage 11 Server Edition for just US$ 49

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Over 10 TB and 600,000 files recovered

The Great Disk Recovery of ’15 is almost complete and so far I have recovered over 10TB worth of data which accounts for over 600,000 files. It’s taken days and a couple of new drives added to the scheme, but ALL the data has been salvaged. All the movies, music, documents and pictures have been recovered and are all viewable once more.

Whether or not this was a system glitch or some user error on my part, the fact remains 5 drives had damaged partitions and weren’t recognized as readable by Windows. A simple "undelete" wasn’t possible so it was a pretty serious SNAFU.

But GetData Recover My Files has done a perfect job of getting those files back. I even saw files I deleted 6 months ago that could still be recovered. In fact, some of them were because it was easier to select the entire volumes rather than hunt and peck over a couple of folders. Good heavens this is some strong software.

I’ve learned my lesson though. I bought more drives so I have a copy of an entire drive and I’ve already backed up other items to Blu-Ray discs. Backing up the system isn’t a problem, that was taken care of months ago with O&O DiskImage. The data drives were the problem since I wasn’t making copies. That has since been corrected.

Another lesson learned is to have a large, spare hard drive sitting around. Since I was recovering 5TB of data, I needed another drive of equal size which I happened to have. When doing a partition recovery like this you can pick and choose items so it’s possible to do in stages, but it’s so much easier and more reliable to do it all at once to a sufficiently sized hard drive.

For those that want to know here’s what I have in place now.

O&O DiskImage – Clones the System drive and copies the image to D:\ for archiving. The system drive is a 3TB internal and the archive is also a 3TB internal. Backup size is less than 100GB.

Recuva – Great for recovering accidentally deleted files. Used it before with great success. Purchased as part of the CCleaner Professional Plus Suite. Very quick and efficient.

GetData Recover My Files 5.x – Much deeper level of file retrieval. Used for corrupted partitions, recover files from formatted disk, RAW disk recovering and disk cloning. Can be used when the disk is listed as "unreadable" by Windows. Does not "undelete" or "unformat" to the same volume. Files need to be copied to another volume.

SyncBackSE – Used to sync files between drives. This is an older copy but it still works. I might upgrade to the latest version at some point or I might go with O&O AutoBackup.

Ashampoo Burning Studio – I’ve had a lot of luck with this app. Easy to use and reliable. Burns files to CD/DVD/Blu-Ray without issue. You can also get it very cheaply. This is what I use to backup files to physical media and has been working pretty hard since this fiasco.

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How do you recover 10TB worth of data from damaged partitions?

It’s pretty much inevitable that a hard drive is going to crash and take all your precious data with it. It’s also inevitable that you’re going to select the wrong file or folder and click the wrong button which sends your data into a black hole. It’s pretty easy to recover from accidentally deleted files. The Deleted Items folder can save you and programs like Recuva can dig deeper and restore your files. But what happens when the Partition Table is utterly mangled by Windows itself and the drive is no longer seen as readable? What do you do when you plug in that 5TB external drive and Windows sits like a dumb oaf and doesn’t show a single file?

Well, this is what has just happened to me. Windows has corrupted the partition and file table of 10TB worth of hard drives that are now considered unreadable. Tens of thousands of pictures, documents, ISO images and music files have been thrown to the heavens. Windows doesn’t even think the drives are there. What do you do when this much data has been lost?

After the panic attack and a clean pair of shorts, it’s time to get down to business and see how bad the situation really is. Computer Manager shows the drives as unreadable, no help there. Recuva doesn’t see the drive either so it can’t run a file scan. Ok, now what?

I first tried O&O DiskRecovery but it couldn’t restore my files. It could see them, so that was good news, but every file it brought over was corrupted. None of the images would render and none of the documents would open. Ok, the table has been deleted and no new data has been written. I know my files are there, but how do I get them?

I did a quick search and the name GetData Recover My Files struck me. Wait a minute, I know these guys. I’ve used their stuff before. I raced to their site, grabbed the trial download and checked the system for drives. Hey look, my busted drive is listed. It ran the initial phase and found the entire directory structure of the drive. I checked a couple of files and I could see images and open documents. Oh wow, everything seems to be there.

Now, there are two problems at hand. First, this is a 5TB drive which is part of the problem. Some programs can’t see a drive that big and clearly I need another drive capable of receiving that amount of data. Luckily, I actually have a spare 5TB drive still in the box. Coincidentally, another 5TB drive is on the way since this will no longer be a spare. Always have a spare drive as large as the biggest drive you have on hand. Better to have an not need than need and not have.

Second, this is going to take an insane amount of time. The recovery of this drive will take nearly 2 days to complete and that is running 24 hours a day. This will go a little quicker since these are USB 3.0 drives, but the others are USB 2.0 so this won’t be a quick operation.

So, I loaded up Recover My Files and within 20 minutes the first files were being restored. There is an option to scan the entire drive sector by sector to locate files (in case you reformat the drive), but since the partition is broken, not the files, this wasn’t necessary.

Then the slow process started. But it was working. I could see the files showing up on the target and they were readable. Lo and behold, my data will be recovered!

No, there is no "unformat" option. All the files will have to be copied onto the temp drive, the original drive needs to be re-formatted and then all the files copied back. Yes, several days worth of effort. And I have 5 drives that were mangled.

And what caused all this? What stupid trick did I try with the drives that broke everything?

I changed the drive letter using Computer Manager. Yep, I wanted to give them a better label and change the letter. Now I have over 10TB worth of data to recover. Nice job Windows!

Well, regardless of how we got here, I need to recover a huge amount of data and GetData Recover My Files is working perfectly. You get two licenses with your purchase so I have two machines doing the recovery right now. It’s still going to take a week or more to get everything back, but I will get it back.

We don’t normally buy recovery software until we need it. And we don’t make backups until we need them. Not the best plan so I’m going to have to mirror/sync a couple of these drives and make some backups to Blu-Ray discs.

So if you find yourself in dire straights, get Recover My Files and you should be able to get your files back.

And guess what? I even managed to get it for 35% off. That’s a bonus!

35% Off GetData Recover My Files

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Making and Burning ISOs on the cheap and easy with ImgBurn, VirtualCloneDrive and Daemon Tools Lite

I like cheap. I like easy. When you combine the two, you have my interest. And so it goes for making ISO images. Since it’s only 2015 and Microsoft has just figured out how to write an ISO image, clearly you’re going to have to fend for yourself. But fear not, there are plenty of ISO apps out there. Sad part is, most of them want a king’s ransom in payment which just chaps me to no end. However, before you spend good gaming money on making ISO images check out these tools for creating and mounting ISO images for free and for less than $5.

First we’ll look at cheap. To mount and image I’ll go with Old Reliable, VirtualCloneDrive. This comes to us by the fine folks over at Slysoft who are known for their prowess with DVDs. Install this free tool and mount multiple disks just by double-clicking. This is great for mounting images of Windows, Office and even movies. Fill up that 5TB hard drive with ISO images of your movies and just click to play. Pretty dam awesome!

image Now, if you want to make an ISO, and you want to do it for free, then it’s time to turn your attention to IMGBurn. It has a simple interface that lets you either make an image or burn an image. That’s all you need. Load the disk, open the app and click the button to make a disk image to your hard drive. It’s simple and straightforward, but it can make an image without any trouble.

I would hardly call it a drawback, but it’s two applications running. Two rather small applications, but two applications none the less.

If you’re looking for a single app to handle both creating and mounting ISOs then it’s over to the long running Daemon Tools. These guys have been around for ages and if you want a reliable and cheap solution, this is the way to go.

You can get Daemon Tools Lite which creates and mounts ISO images for a mere $3.99. That’s right, for less than the cost of a shot of tequila, you get both features in one app. Daemon Tools is very easy to use with a simple UI. Click the large + sign to add images and click the large Play button to open them. Daemon Tools also hooks into AnyDVD so you can indeed read your DVD collection and make mountable movies out of them. I did it and it worked fine.

I’ve been using ImgBurn and VirtualCloneDrive for quite some time, but have just recently switched over to Daemon Tools simply because I wanted one app that could do both and it’s really hard to argue with a $4 price tag.

A couple of impressive features for Daemon Tools:  (I like that Blu-Ray feature)

  • Mount *.mdx, *.mds/*.mdf, *.iso, *.b5t, *.b6t, *.bwt, *.ccd, *.cdi, *.bin/*.cue, *.ape/*.cue, *.flac/*.cue, *.nrg, *.isz disc images to a virtual drive
  • Create .iso, *.mds/*.mdf and *.mdx images of CD, DVD, Blu-ray discs
  • image

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    First Hand Experience With Piriform Recuva

    imageI found myself in a jam the other day as I was moving hundreds of gigs around to the new drives I bought. There was a bit of a mis-click and instead of copying a folder of images from one drive to another, I deleted it. And not to the Recycle Bin either. My setting in XYPlorer is to bypass that and just get rid of the files. This is one of the very rare times when the Recycle Bin would have saved me.

    But I didn’t fret, I jumped over to my trusted set of disk utilities and use the Undelete function inside Ashampoo to get the file back. That would have been a great end to the story, but none of the Ashampoo tools recognize my 5TB dive. Or something else is wrong, but it couldn’t read any information off the drive.

    Oh crap, now what?

    Alright, no need to panic, plenty of tools out there to choose from. Next up was O&O Undelete and MediaRecovery. Both are designed for this sort of thing. They installed fine, but neither of them would start. Nope, neither one would actually bring up anything beyond the splash screen. I waited for 10 minutes in case it was trying to read all the drives. No activity. Nothing.

    My first two outings met with utter disaster, so I contemplated for awhile before taking the next step. A thought jumped from the back of my mind and I went to Piriform and downloaded Recuva. Their CCleaner tool is great stuff, so what do they have in the way of file recovery? Well, turns out it’s just as good. It installed in just a minute and was up and running in no time. It presented me with all the drives in my system, which is 14 by the way.

    I selected that massive 5TB drive and just a minute later, Piriform Recuva was showing me all the files it could get back. I wasted nearly 2 hours with the other tools and Recuva had the list ready in under 5.

    I expected it would only let me recover a couple files at a time since this was the free version, but Recuva doesn’t have that restriction. It let me recover all the files in the folder I deleted and didn’t nag me about buying the full version of nor did it throw up dialogs in my face saying it couldn’t complete the action in the free version. It pulled them all back in less than 20 minutes.

    Honestly, I’m quite stunned. It got all the files back and in perfect order. And here I was thinking my other recovery tools were up to the task. Seems I was wrong. Out of all the tools I used, Recuva was the only one that got the job done. And it didn’t cost me anything, which makes me feel a little guilty to be honest. How can such a cool tool be free?

    Well it is indeed, but I feel I need to offer Piriform something for the effort. Much to my surprise, not only can you get Recuva for a very reasonable price you get buy the entire Suite of tools for an extremely discounted price. I didn’t know they had a bundle…

    We get many requests from our users wanting to buy all our products in one bundle. So we’ve listened and today we’re very happy to announce that we’re launching CCleaner Professional Plus: a 4-in-1 product that includes all the Professional versions of CCleaner, Defraggler, Recuva and Speccy!

    To make it even better I found that you can use coupon "AUG2014" to get an even bigger discount. You can drop the price for all 4 tools down to $31.96.

    I’m going to have to add Piriform CCleaner Professional Plus to my bag of tricks. If you run into the same jam, start with Recuva, it’ll save a hell of a lot of time and get the job done right the first time. Piriform may be known for CCleaner, but don’t forget about their other tools.

    Piriform CCleaner Professional Plus

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