Product Reviews

File Resurrection

Undelete 3.0 can bring a dead file back to life.

We’ve all been there: One moment, you casually toss a document into the Recycle Bin and, out of habit or by a scheduled task, you dump the bin. The next week, you need to make a change and, lo and behold, the document is missing. After about five minutes of frantic searching, the lightening bolt strikes: “I deleted it last week. What was I thinking??!?” You go looking in the Recycle Bin, and the document isn’t there. That document was the migration plan to move the corporate e-mail system to Exchange 2000, and you’re in trouble with a capital “T.”

Then again, maybe not. Executive Software, which brought you Diskeeper, has another tool—Undelete 3.0—that just might help. Good news: You might be not be in for another 20 hours of work and public humiliation at the hands of your peers.

Now we all know that when you press delete or even do a Shift-Delete in Windows, the file isn’t annihilated. It’s still on your hard disk, sitting in the area that’s now zoned as free space. With the right tool, you can bring it back.

Undelete is a simple tool with a simple purpose: to recover deleted files. With Undelete 3.0, Executive Software has taken it a step further by creating a way to recover files across the network. Using Undelete Server, you can connect to a computer running Undelete Server or Workstation and recover files from any volume. This is a nice thing, just in case you have to recover a file that another user may have inadvertently (or purposely) deleted. The one caveat to remember with remote connection is that only one console can connect at the same time.

Of course, like all file-recovery tools, Undelete requires the deleted file to be contiguously complete on the hard disk. If any part of that file is overwritten, the file is unrecoverable.

But what if you want to delete a file so that it’s unrecoverable—if, for instance, you’re sanitizing your storage media? SecureDelete, a tool that comes with Undelete, does the job. SecureDelete does three-pass overwrites with varying patterns. This is good for those working in classified environments.

When I installed Undelete, I noticed right away that the Windows Recycle Bin was replaced with an Undelete Recovery Bin. From there, I had access to the tool. I had a directory listing of files that were deleted since Undelete was installed. I could do a search if I wanted. I could also switch to “Direct from Disk” mode, which allowed me to key in on a directory and recover files from there.

So what about files that were deleted before I added Undelete? No problem. Undelete comes with an Emergency Undelete tool that allows you to undelete files without installing the program. The only footprint left is a registry entry.

Undelete 3.0
Undelete 3.0 may be just what you need to bring back files from the dead. (Click image to view larger version.)

Undelete has a few configurable options, such as screening out file types that shouldn’t be recovered—a good thing to use if you have to hunt down files and don’t want to wade through temporary files from installs and such.

Undelete isn’t an end-all solution to file availability. It was never designed to replace a file backup system; but when used in conjunction with a properly implemented backup system, Undelete can be a good first line of action.

Undelete 3.0, $49.95 for Workstation, $259 for Server; Executive Software, (818) 771-1600,

About the Author

Rick A. Butler, MCSE+I, is the Director of Information Services for the United States Hang Gliding Association.


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