Software Reviews

Lost and Found by PowerQuest

Reviewed by Laurence Fenn

The one thing that you should always do if you have something important on your PC is back it up. But unless you remember to do this regularly, your data could be gone forever if the worst ever happens. This could be the fault of software with bugs in it, viruses, software failure, system conflicts, hackers or just deleting a file by mistake. Hardware faults such as a head crash, power failure, CPU failure, tape drive failure or bad backup media could also be the reason. Lost and Found by Power Quest try to recover data from system, rather than you sending your hard disc to specialist. Most home users should not have to take this expensive course of action, but companies might if their backup failed. The program can recover data under a variety of conditions, and has several key features:

  • Does not need to be installed before the recovery of lost or corrupted files
  • Does not write to the damaged disk
  • Recovers your files if the medium has been formatted, providing that new data has not been added
  • Analysis the disk and shows the odds of recovery
  • Allows data to be save to a network drive
  • Can recover data from disks that have suffered head crashes
  • Recovers data even if the boot sector or root directory are corrupted or missing
  • Works with both FAT16 and FAT32
  • Works with all possible IDE, EIDE and SCSI disk drives.

When the scan is complete you can have a full, directory only or no file list text file. You can then select the directory and/or files to recover. All the files are colour coded to show a reasonable chance of recover (yellow), poor chance (red), previous recovered file/directory (blue), root directory (white), directory OK and contains files (bright green), directory OK but is empty (dark green), files cannot be recovered (red). Selected files or directories are marked, and then you can recover files to a single directory, maintain the original directory structure or store them in a compressed or uncompressed backup.

If the files recovered have long file names, you must use the Refresh or ReNew utilities on the second floppy disc. Refresh looks for a batch file called LONGNAME.BAT which holds the long file names. As Lost & Found runs in pure DOS mode, Windows 95/98/NT cannot create the long file names. This is similar to the LFNBK.EXE program on the Windows CD. You run the program and all file names are converted to the DOS 8.3 format, with the data stored in a file. The files and the database can then be archived or stored using a DOS program, and restored using an additional parameter. ReNew does a similar job with the backup files (compressed or uncompressed). Large files can be recovered using this method, or several floppy discs can store the files to be recovered. These programs run in Windows 95/98/NT in a DOS box. I again had trouble running the normal version, due to the graphics, but you can run in text only mode by adding -T as parameter after the filename. You then point to where the saveset of recovered files are, and where you want to put them. You then select to maintain the original directory structure or put all the files in one directory. You can then pick the individual files to recover.

This is not a program for a beginner. It assumes that you will need to recover from errors that will not occur that often on a normal 'home user system'. Important data should always be backed up on a separate medium anyway, and as the program runs in DOS with a complex menu system, the average user would have trouble using it. For system administrators though, the software would no doubt be of use to occasional problems of data loss. There is a 700k update on the web site to take you to version 1.01, which overwrites the two existing floppy discs. I'm not sure if the upgrade is compatible with drive space compression, as the batch update looks for the DRVSPACE.BIN file and deletes it to make enough room for the new files.