General data recovery usually refers to the rescue of files deleted from the computer’s hard drive. While it is true that recovery of files from many other devices is also a major part of the data recovery process, the fundamentals of that process are consistent and apply regardless of the device you hope to recover files from. So when we speak of hard drive recovery we can actually narrow this down to many specific areas. There are two basic ways to define the areas covered by data recovery. The first is to define them by hardware. We qualify the data recovery task based on whether we’re trying to recover lost files from an external hard drive or an internal drive. Is the computer that our files are lost on a laptop or desktop computer? Or are we trying to recover deleted files on some other type of digital media such as a camera smart card, a USB flash drive or as diverse a device as an Apple iPod. Data recovery from MP3 players, camera smart cards, and USB flash drives is generally referred to as digital media recovery, that being the recovery of image, video and audio files.

The second means of deciding our target for data recovery is determined by which kind of operating system our computer is using. Powerful data recovery software is available for all of the major operating systems. Of course the most prevalent operating systems are those supplied as Windows. There are file recovery programs built for every version of Windows. In fact most deleted file recovery is referred to as Windows data recovery or more simply Windows recovery. The number of computers using the Linux operating system has increased drastically over the last five years. So much so that there are now available powerful and efficient programs for Linux data recovery. Linux recovery differs from Windows recovery in that the file storage systems used by the Linux OS catalog say than retrieve information differently. This same scenario exists for Apple Mac users. Computers using Mac OS 10 must have software for file recovery designed strictly to interact with the Apple operating system.

Sometimes our data recovery requirements are based on a hybrid of software and hardware; this is the case when dealing with raid recovery. Raid systems, those being redundant array of independent disks, require data recovery software built for the operating system in place as well as the software designed for the multi disk connectivity of the raid array itself.

In summary, before you begin the task of data recovery consider whether you are in need of laptop data recovery or recovery of files from the standard desktop computer. And if you are trying to recover deleted files on a desktop computer, does that computer use the older FAT file system or the newer NTFS? NTFS recovery is far more prevalent. A further qualifier relative to hardware is that you must determine whether you are searching for a few files or if you need to recover and save an entire hard drive. When you need to recover deleted partition files, the software you choose must be of vastly higher quality. Partition recovery takes longer and hence requires the fastest program available.

Are you simply hoping to find a few deleted files on a USB flash drive? USB data recovery is perhaps is the simplest of all file recovery. When attempting to recover lost data on your internal hard drive you may be merely trying to retrieve files that you inadvertently deleted from the Windows recycle bin. Recycle bin recovery is somewhat difficult in that the software you choose for the task should be built with this specific sorting feature in place.

In essence, the entire object of data recovery is to undelete files. And though the term undelete is in some ways a complete misnomer, it still serves us well in the world of data and disk recovery.

One final area extremely pertinent to data recovery is its opposite effect. That is not the need to recover deleted files, but the need to make sure that once a file is deleted it is removed from our computer’s hard drive or other digital storage in such a manner that it can never be again accessed. There are programs created specifically to erase data. These are a byproduct of a reverse engineering of data recovery software. Often referred to as a data eraser or disk wipe program, this software overwrites the space allocated to a deleted file numerous times with scrambled information. So, even though this program might be considered a file eraser the process of erasing data from digital storage is nonexistent. The better and more common name applied to the process and the software is that of a file shredder. Powerful file shredding software tears down the original stored data to its fundamental machine code then rewrites that information on to the space allocated as empty and deletes files many times in a random pattern. This ensures that no person or machine can ever open the information again.