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Search and Recover

Score: 95%
ESRB: Not Rated
Publisher: iolo technologies
Developer: iolo technologies
Media: Download/1
Players: 1
Genre: Miscellaneous

Graphics & Sound:

The interface of Search and Recover is easy to navigate and understand. There are some easy to use options to recover your choice of images and video, music and sound or email. Search and Recover can recover email files from Microsoft Outlook, Mozilla Thunderbird, Netscape and Qualcomm Eudora. Another easy option lets you recover everything (that can be recovered) in just a few clicks. There is also a section that identifies how much time is remaining on your license and allows easy access to extending your license.

During the recovery process, a progress indicator lets you know how far along in the recovery process you are and there is an indication of how many files have been discovered. The estimated time remaining indicator, however, should be taken with a, well... block of salt - in my tests, the time estimation was literally all over the place, but then... if you're trying to recover data, it's probably important enough to wait for. Hopefully there's not some tight deadline you're trying to beat, however. More on the time estimation later on...

Once the search process is done, you will be faced with a report that lists all of the files that were discovered and indicates the file type and likelihood of successful recovery for each file listed. Additionally, you can choose to preview media files in this report directly, before recovering them to another location. Other files have to be recovered to another location first, and then you can go look at each file to see what was recoverable.


Data loss is not fun and games. And neither is Search and Recover. It's a utility application for recovering data when something goes wrong. Whether your friend deleted all the pictures off your camera accidentally (sorry, dude.) or your hard drive gave up the ghost and you want to retrieve your saved game files, your custom textures or your favorite songs, videos or pictures, Search and Recover gives you a hope of actually salvaging something.

The UI is fairly straightforward, with options that affect how deeply it looks for data and what types of files you want to recover. Turning on the StrongScan will provide more thorough results, but will take longer to finish its search. If the drive isn't recognized by Windows, you can search it as a physical disc, but this makes the process take much longer.

One thing I found to be nice about the way Search and Recover works is that it actually searches for all file types, regardless of what you tell it to search for. When it shows your results, it defaults the filter to only display the types you were searching for, but all you have to do is change the search criteria and the other files show up without any additional wait. This is especially good given that a hard drive with issues could be further damaged by repetitive usage - not to mention the fact that the entire drive is being scanned, anyway, so there is very little overhead for checking for additional file types when you're already scanning through the whole drive.


There are a lot of factors involved in recovering data successfully, some of which are on Search and Recover's side and some that are on your side. If you're attempting to recover files that have been "deleted," then they exist in "free space" on the drive and the sooner you attempt to recover them, the better your chances are; when your computer goes to save something and overwrites that area, it will hurt your ability to recover that data.

If your intention is to recover everything you possibly can, the TotalRecovery makes the process simple. Just click this option, browse to the drive or folder you wish to recover, specify where to recover the files to and select whether to use SmartScan and you're off. Note that the disc-based version also includes the ability to boot from the Search and Recover disc, reducing the risk of further damage to the drive you're trying to recover in the recovery process. This feature is not available in the downloadable version, which is the version I tested. I should also note that the license on the disc-based version is for up to three PCs, while the download version features iolo's Whole Home License.

Game Mechanics:

In my testing, images tended to work fairly well (surprising, given the large file size of images), while text documents that were recovered often were truncated after a very short bit at the beginning of the file. Mind you, these text files were some that I discovered after they had been long since deleted, so time may well have been a factor, while the images I recovered were a mix of old existing images and new images saved and deleted in the process of testing.

Search and Recover is pretty good at finding files that your operating system doesn't know about. Rather than blindly going by the file allocation tables and indices your operating system uses, Search and Recover literally searches through the data on your hard drive, presumably watching for patterns that identify expected file headers that "look like" certain file types. It uses algorithms to not only find possible files, but to determine a certainty rating, indicating the likelihood of your being able to successfully recover the file.

If you find yourself in need of hard drive recovery, you're not in an enviable place, but you'll want to try to avoid any additional use of the drive other than the recovery process. If you have access to multiple computers, this can be easy to accomplish by adding the drive in question to a working machine and running the Search and Recover software from there. If you have only one machine and you have to recover the system drive, you would do better with the disc-based version, since you can use that to boot, limiting hard drive usage to just the recovery process.

-Geck0, GameVortex Communications
AKA Robert Perkins

Minimum System Requirements:

Windows 7 / Vista / 2000 / XP, Internet connection (for download version), CD or DVD Drive (for CD version)

Test System:

AMD Athlon(tm) II X2 220 Processor 2.80 GHz, 4 GB dual-channel DDR3, ASUS Mainboard, CoolerMaster 850watt power supply, Dual boot: Windows 7 Home Premium 64 bit / Windows XP Home Edition (played in Windows 7), Graphics: ATI Radeon 3000 (on motherboard) / XFX ATI Radeon HD 5750 1GB graphics card, Dual Monitors (Gateway HD2201 21" HDMI / Sony SDM-HS73), 1.5 TB Western Digital Caviar Green SATA Hard Drive, 750 GB Seagate Barracuda 7200.12 SATA 3Gb/s Hard Drive, Logitech G600 MMO Gaming Mouse, Logitech G710+ Mechanical Gaming Keyboard, Logitech Z313 2.1-CH PC multimedia speaker system, A30 Gaming Headset/Ear Force Sierra: Call of Duty: Black Ops II Limited Edition/Skullcandy SLYR Gaming Headset, Cable Modem, 8GB Einstein Mimobot USB Flash Drive running as dedicated ReadyBoost Cache

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