Many people do not feel comfortable tinkering around with or repairing their own computers. However, there are some users who like to do it themselves, like this author. Rummaging around in a computer is almost as fun as taking a holiday vacation to them. In fact, their natural-born curiosity and ability to learn by doing often turns them into the tech support for friends and family that are not as computer literate.

Even so, there are times when even a guru needs some help. Hard drive data recovery is one of those instances when it might be beneficial to have someone to call. Missing files cause both financial and emotional trauma, depending on the situation. Furthermore, file recovery must be done properly or the situation can be exacerbated. When the missing files are the result of human error or logical hard drive failure, the solution is often found in file recovery software programs.

There are certain features and options that should be considered when looking for a data recovery program.

Some of these can be found in both free and commercial software; however, the degree to which they are effective will often depend on the availability of tech support. Some items to consider are:

• What types of files will the software recovery?

• Is the software updated regularly to keep up with evolving formats?

• Can this software be used if the computer will not boot into the operating system?

• If assistance is needed, is there technical support available?

Not all recovery programs will retrieve every file format.

Some are specifically designed for picture recovery, while others will work with word processing and similar formats. You should determine what type of format you need to recover and choose accordingly.

Recovery software should be updated frequently to include new formats as they are developed. Some freeware will be updated from time to time. However, freeware is often a hobby and is only updated when the programmer has the time. Often, they discontinue development of the program. There are some recovery programs that have the capability to learn new file formats on the fly. After a sample is submitted to the software, it learns the format and can then recover it.

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