Have you ever sent a file to your Recycle Bin then suddenly remembered that you need it?

Imagine if you’d emptied the bin straight away, it would have been gone forever and irretrievable, or would it? When files are deleted from the system, the actual data isn’t immediately lost, rather the header that specifies its location on the hard drive is deleted, allowing Windows to use that space on the hard drive for fresh files. So, with a bit of luck you’ll be able to recover lost files.

Search and Recover 4 is a simple little tool that allows you to track down those lost files. It’s a small application but the supplied CD offers you the option to either install it to your hard drive, or you can run the application straight from the CD itself. The interface is neat and simple to understand and recovering files is a three-step procedure, involving the scanning of your hard drives for deleted files. It isn’t limited to just finding files on your computer’s hard drive, as it will also work with external devices, including HDD-based MP3 players.

You can allow the program to simply run and locate every deleted file it finds, or you can be more selective and choose specific folders to be searched. Once the scanning part is over, you’ll be asked whether you want to restore your information to it’s original location or put it somewhere new. We’d suggest having a specific folder for recovered goods, as it will make accessing them easier.

What’s more, a tool called SmartScan will present you with an estimate of the quality of recovered data. It’s worth remembering that Windows saved files are still not the most logical and will often scatter larger files over the hard drive. If this is the case, you may not be able to fully recover your information.

In use we managed to cover up to 90% of lost files. It’s not foolproof, as we found that files we’d deleted specifically to be found sometimes came back corrupted, so there is still way to go with the actual effectiveness of the application.

At the other end of the spectrum, you can use Search and Recover to actually destroy the information on the hard drive. This security feature is a neat touch and is one not found on similar products. By destroying the information on your hard drive you won’t be able to recover it, naturally. However, if you’re selling on your PC, it’s a worthwhile exercise as it stops others rooting through your deleted data.

Price when reviewed:

We’ve all deleted files we wish we hadn’t but Iola’s Search and Recover 4 makes a good job of turning those mistakes around. It’s not without its flaws but it’s a tool that will recover its costs the first time you use it.