May 272012

Article by Giuseppe Sanna

Your beloved son, while heading back from a wonderful holiday, has magically overcome all the intricate steps of the camera and was able to remove hundreds of photos of the entire trip? Have you carelessly formatted an hard disk? Have you corrupted the file system of a SD card or USB stick? Wow! They are all very unpleasant situations … Situations that have made ​​put you in trouble ! Today, thanks to two simple tools, we will see how to retrieve all the lost data, or at least those recoverable …

First i want to say that there are many of these software. But many are often overly complex and sophisticated, while others, though simple, very often turn out to be software not working at all! Today we will talk about 2 free and open source software: Test Disk and PhotoRec! Both are lightweight and simple software (or tool) that can be started in the terminal, in the case of Linux, if you want to recover data that was present on a removable storage device, or via a LiveCD or LiveDVD if you want to use a recovery distribution to recover data from your hard disk, as my loved GParted Live!

Test Disk

The installation is very simple! If you use Ubuntu you can just just a “sudo apt-get install testdisk“, the same with all the Debian-based distribution. With Fedora nothing more than a: “yum install testdisk“. If you use another distro or any other operating system on your PC where you want to retrieve the files you just need a solution before mentioned. Download the “iso” of a recovery LiveCD and install it all on a CD or USB that you’ll use at the start to boot! This can be very useful if what you lost is inside a partition inaccessible by the OS started or simply in a corrupted partition that your OS don’t see at all.

The use of this tool is very intuitive! The program is based on some basic principles.

Locate the disk from which you want to restore files. You can do this through some useful plan. Some may be: look at the size of the partition, find the name of the disk, or even go to browse the files inside it.
View the files can be very useful to understand if this is the folder you want to recover.
Recover files. In this phase you can sit and relax, although it is a very light software with a negligible consumption of resources, it will be bound with the hardware capabilities of your device to dictate the duration of the recovery process.
But at the end you’ll get the files that your son, wife or friend have destroyed. Please note that this software has a small problem. When the tool retrieve files and save them where you want, they will have a totally different names than the original. In fact, the tool retrieves the files, but not their names.


We talked until now only of Test Disk. But when comes into play PhotoRec? The answer is simple … where Test Disk fails, PhotoRec can succeed. If in fact the data to be recovered is within an ext3 or ext4 Linux system partitions , Test Drives will fail! Instead PhotoRec, which should work with almost any block-based filesystem, should do it!

Therefore, don’t despair any more … From now on, they will oppose to the unconscious art of the sabotage of our children!

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  4 Responses to “Recover data with your Linux is no longer a problem thanks to Test Disk and PhotoRec!”

  1. Bell’articolo semplice e soprattutto complimenti per aver sottolineato che questi software vanno usato solo ed esclusivamente se i files sono stati cancellati, se la partizione è stata formattata e se il file system è corrotto. Per quest’ultimo starei comunque attento, devo sapere che sono stato io a corromperlo, altrimenti rientra nei danni hardware dove questi software devono essere banditi per evitare danni peggiori sino alla perdita dei files.

    Il Laboratorio

    • Sono felice che ti sia piaciuto il mio articolo! 🙂
      Comunque quelle sono sottolineature dovute dall’esperienza.
      Sono stato infatti io il primo a provarlo sulla mia pelle. Fortunatamente con successo!

  2. Odd, it should retrieve the file name too since i did that a month ago with my 2TB HDD.

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