TestDisk, PhotoRec fix disks, recover files

Perform low-level disk repair and file recovery--from a command prompt or DOS box

If you're a fan of character-based interfaces -- such as DOS -- and free data recovery, you're going to love TestDisk and its companion utility, PhotoRec (a brother program included in the TestDisk download). Both free programs run in a DOS box or from a command line and test, report on, fix common disk boot problems, and recover files from damaged hard drives. All this is done at low level, below the operating system.

You don't install TestDisk and PhotoRec. You simply unzip the archive to the location from which you want to run it. This may be a bit confusing for users used to installing, but it makes the apps portable, which is far more important to the techier types who are the intended audience. Simply drag the files around on your flash drive and run them from there. Being portable also makes these utilities suitable for inclusion on boot discs. Though character-based, TestDisk and PhotoRec are just as easy to use as a GUI-based program. The options are logically laid out, the language readily understandable for anyone comfortable with command-line utilities, and you simply cursor up and down, right and left to navigate. The way the cursor control is facilitated to accommodate two functions per page is actually quite clever.

I ran both programs through their paces and they worked quite well. They accurately reported the types of drives I had attached to my system and recovered all the deleted files I threw at them -- regardless of an existing partition or not. There were some misfires in the recognition, but there are in every recovery program I've ever used. But I'm definitely going to give both TestDisk and PhotoRec a long hard look in future repair operations. I like character-based utilities.

Join the PC World newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags repairDrivesstoragehard drivesfreewareFreeware / sharewareUtilitiesHard Disksoftwarerecoveryhdd

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Jon L. Jacobi

PC World (US online)
Show Comments

Essentials

Lexar® JumpDrive® S57 USB 3.0 flash drive

Learn more >

Microsoft L5V-00027 Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard Desktop

Learn more >

Mobile

Lexar® JumpDrive® S45 USB 3.0 flash drive 

Learn more >

Exec

Audio-Technica ATH-ANC70 Noise Cancelling Headphones

Learn more >

Lexar® JumpDrive® C20c USB Type-C flash drive 

Learn more >

HD Pan/Tilt Wi-Fi Camera with Night Vision NC450

Learn more >

Lexar® Professional 1800x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards 

Learn more >

Budget

Back To Business Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre x360

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga 910

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Kathy Cassidy

STYLISTIC Q702

First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.

Anthony Grifoni

STYLISTIC Q572

For work use, Microsoft Word and Excel programs pre-installed on the device are adequate for preparing short documents.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?