image This past weekend my son came up to me and asked me to help him find his homework on his USB flash drive. He had copied his XBOX profile to the USB stick and that worked just fine but now he can’t find his homework.

When I looked all that was on the drive was a folder called xbox360 and 4 files inside that folder. When I asked him if he formatted the drive he stated that he just accepted whatever the XBOX told him he needed to do. I informed him that he just lost all of the data he had on the drive. He was more than a little upset.

I told him I would take a look at it and see if I could undelete the files. My wife tried to convince me not to get into a 3 hour endeavor of wasted time as he formatted the disk and didn’t just delete the files. This only encouraged me more…

It took me less than 10 minutes to recover my son’s lost files on his USB flash drive using PhotoRec. My wife was impressed, my son was impressed, and I was impressed with the software that I used.

PhotoRec is awesome!!! It ignores the file system and goes after the underlying data, so it will still work even if your media’s file system has been severely damaged or reformatted. Oh and it is free under the GPL and runs on just about anything Windows, Mac, Linux, Sun, BSD. Oh and the number here is a list of the file systems it will fix…

PhotoRec is bundled with another program called TestDisk,. TestDisk is an application for recovering lost partitions on a wide variety of file systems and making non-bootable disks bootable again. TestDisk can find lost partitions for all of these file systems:

  • BeFS ( BeOS )
  • BSD disklabel ( FreeBSD/OpenBSD/NetBSD )
  • CramFS, Compressed File System
  • DOS/Windows FAT12, FAT16 and FAT32
  • XBox FATX
  • Windows exFAT
  • HFS, HFS+ and HFSX, Hierarchical File System
  • JFS, IBM’s Journaled File System
  • Linux btrfs
  • Linux ext2, ext3 and ext4
  • Linux GFS2
  • Linux LUKS encrypted partition
  • Linux RAID md 0.9/1.0/1.1/1.2
  • RAID 1: mirroring
  • RAID 4: striped array with parity device
  • RAID 5: striped array with distributed parity information
  • RAID 6: striped array with distributed dual redundancy information
  • Linux Swap (versions 1 and 2)
  • LVM and LVM2, Linux Logical Volume Manager
  • Mac partition map
  • Novell Storage Services NSS
  • NTFS ( Windows NT/2000/XP/2003/Vista/2008/7 )
  • ReiserFS 3.5, 3.6 and 4
  • Sun Solaris i386 disklabel
  • Unix File System UFS and UFS2 (Sun/BSD/…)
  • XFS, SGI’s Journaled File System
  • Wii WBFS
  • Sun ZFS

Luckily I haven’t needed to use this program yet, but if it works as good as PhotoRec then Wow!

Neither program has a GUI as can be seen by clicking on the screenshot above. It does have an intuitive menu system on the screen. You should add this to your toolkit! I have added it to mine.

TestDisk & PhotoRec documentation can be found online: