8 Dangers Associated With Using Free Data Recovery Software

Look, I don’t blame you for trying to get your data back yourself, but all it usually accomplishes is making matters worse.

Below, I’m going to give you 8 dangers to be aware of, because I know you’re dead set do it anyways. You and I both know you don’t have the foggiest idea of the damage that you can cause doing this yourself.

You probably think (like everyone else) that no matter what you do, a professional data recovery company can bale you out if you FAIL. <<< This is no guarantee as once the data is destroyed, its destroyed for good.

You are basically shooting in the dark and hoping to get lucky and hit something.

So, a few valuable RULES…


RULE #1 :Assess the value of the data on your drive that is lost.

All further decisions should be based on this fact alone

If the data is worth at least $199 then you need to bite the bullet, and contact a professional data recovery company (you can click here for contact information).

If the data is NOT worth $199, go ahead and roll the dice.In other words, If you can’t see yourself paying $199 for the data, then go ahead and do what you want with it.



RULE #2 : If there is physical damage, or you have dropped your drive, forget using software.

A logical (software level) recovery will work if you have deleted the data, a partition, or formatted your drive.

This is basically user error. If you don’t know why you can’t access your data, then you are walking in the dark and sure to break something (make it worse).

RULE #3 : Respect the 8 dangers BELOW, or lose your data forever.

1. If it’s free or cheap there is a reason


You ALWAYS get what you pay for.

Data recovery does not start with software. Especially with free and cheap data recovery software.

Cheap software utilities provide no protection against overwriting, corrupting, or destroying your data.

Most of these software are  advertised to be used only where there are other copies of the data (wonder why?), for files that were manually deleted, or if you are victim of virus infection.

There is nothing EASY or FREE about data recovery.

2. Installing free software on your drive will overwrite your data

write over your data

After you have deleted data, emptied the recycle bin, or formatted the hard drive the data that was once there is still there.

3 Points to remember about deleted data:

  1. Data is only erased from the table of contents of the drive (MFT)
  2. Data is usually still right where you left it …. err “deleted” it from. 
  3. It hasn’t necessarily been OVERWRITTEN yet.

When you install a program or copy a file or ADD DATA to a computer system it writes the data to the platters of the hard drive.

How to prevent writing over your data:

  • Don’t try to recover data from the same computer you are running the recovery attempts from.
  • Don’t use the same computer to search for data recovery solutions.
  • Don’t leave the device is running or connected 

The reason why this happens is Windows is always busy in the background doing only Bill knows what.

3. Running free software on a failing drive will make it fail faster


Running utilities on failing drives will only make the situation worse.

  • Bad sectors are made worse the more a drive spins and the heads try to read those bad sectors.
  • Bad heads only get worse and can eventually crash on to the platter causing irreversible damage to your data.
  • Software utilities can never recover data from a drive with physical failures.

A drive with physical or mechanical issues needs to be opened up and repaired FIRST, before it is even powered up again. Drives always should be imaged before any attempts to recover data should pursued. This is especially true during RAID data recovery attempts.

4. Free software gives you inaccurate scan results


When a software utility scans the drive to “locate recoverable data” and finds a bad sector, it will skip over blocks of bad sectors or freeze up when coming across the first sign of one.

Free Software:

  • Skips over good data when it locates a bad sector
  • Freezes when it locates bad sectors
  • Does not make multiple passes at the bad sectors
  • Cannot compile data containing bad sectors properly
  • Can corrupt your data

It might take these utilities 10, 20, 30 attempts at trying to read the bad sectors before skipping the sector that is bad. By the time the utility does decide to skip the bad sector, the damage could already been done and your drive might be beyond the point of repair.

The utilities the pros use are able to adjust the amount of sectors that will get skipped when a bad one is recognized. They also return for multiple passes and are able to compile the data appropriately, isolating the bad sector without collateral damage.

This will help to avoid the “corrupt data” that you are likely to see with regards to files that can’t open, or pictures that are incomplete, while actually recovering all the good data.

5. Software doesn’t tell you what is wrong with the drive

Software cannot tell you:

  • If there are bad heads
  • Problems in the service area
  • Corrupt modules
  • Corrupt firmware
  • Scratches on the platter
  • Crashed heads
  • or any other very common physical issue with a hard drive.

No stand alone software is able to tell you what is wrong with the drive internally.

Cheap utilities can’t  read SMART data, which only begins to tell you what is going on inside that air tight case that holds your data captive.

6. The only way to fully recover data is to make a full clone

make-a clone-for-data-recovery

The clone is actually a full bit level image of the failing drive, and can only be done with specialized equipment made specifically for this purpose.

If you can’t make a successful copy of the drive, a cheap utility will NOT be able to successfully scan it first, and then go back and copy it to your recovery media.

There is a reason why professional and forensic data recovery companies always clone the drive first.

  1. Software recovery utilities “scan” your drive to “find lost data” first.
  2. Then once it “finds” it, the you choose what to save and it begins to copy the data to the recovery destination.

You are essentially wasting the “life” of a drive with the scan, when you should be using that time “working” the drive to actually copy the data to a workable image.

  • These scans might be the only chance you have to recover your data.
  • These scans can kill the drive and usually make any other chance for recovery impossible.

Not every copy is equal also. You need to make a bit level image that you then access virtually with a utility capable of scanning it.

7. There is no write protection to your media

Windows is notorious for altering things like MBRs, and for writing signatures to disks that have not been used in Windows before.

  • Software programs do not prevent data from being written back to the source.
  • Software utilities do not mount your media as “read-only”.

There is a reason why forensics utilizes special write blocks on their subject media. Once your data is written over, there is absolutely no way to recover it.

8. You should never run recovery utilities on the original media

Always work from a virtual or hard copy of the media. Cloning the drive to another good drive, or to a virtual drive is the first step of data recovery.

  • Real data recovery companies never work off the original media.
  • Running software scans on the original drive degrades the drive.
  • Real data recovery is about data preservation first

Remember, you can scan a good drive, or a virtual image of a drive, as many times as your want. But scanning a failing drive with these utilities can make creating a good bit level image difficult, or even worse, impossible

If a good image cannot be made from your drive than more than likely you will have a very low rate of recovered data. If any data can be recovered at all.

Decided Your Data is More Valuable Than Free or Cheap Software?

Call the number below for a FREE consultation or you can request an online quote using our secure form here

It always boils down to how valuable the data is. If you have made the decision that it’s better NOT to try to DIY, and you want some help feel free to give us a call for a FREE phone consultation.

DiscussionHave you ever tried data recovery software on your own? Ever have any bad experiences with DIY data recovery? Jump in the conversation below!

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