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What is the best file recovery software to use to recover deleted pst files.

Posted on 2011-02-18
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Last Modified: 2012-05-11
We recently had a computer that became corrupted with some sort of virus, spyware etc.  Running XP Pro, Office 2003.  Tried to repair using Eset, Spybot Search and Destroy, and Malwarebytes with no success.  Decided to reload OS on machine and reload installed software.  A full format was ran using the XP install CD.  Apparently there was an Outlook pst file that was stored on the local machine that is now missing for apparent reasons.  What is the best method of trying to recover this file?  Is there a recovery software that can be used to restore deleted files?  Any help would be appreciated.  Thanks
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Question by:mray77
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by:loki_loki
ID: 34926994
Programs like Recuva are free and may get back some, or all of the file but it is not guaranteed.  Failing that there are companies that will do the same for a fee.  They will probably have a greater chance of getting the file back but again it is not definite.
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by:wparrott
ID: 34927003
Yes, there are lots of different programs that will do this. I had a situation exactly like this and used Recover My files from GetData (http://www.recovermyfiles.com/). There's a free trial that you can run on the hard drive to see if the .pst file is recoverable. As long as the physical sector wasn't overwritten during the re-install of the OS chances are it will be recoverable.

HTH,

-W
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by:clinker83
ID: 34927072
You can try these

Recuva - http://www.piriform.com/recuva
DiskDigger - http://diskdigger.org/

When you delete a file or format a disk it opens up the memory locations for writing new data. Unfortunately the problem is that if you reinstalled the entire OS there is a good chance that there will be segments of the original pst files overwritten. Best of luck
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doublestick earned 500 total points
ID: 34927201
MRAY,

First a quick lesson on deleting/recovering lost files, just so the understanding is in place (the simple version).

 When a file is deleted, its reference is deleted, but the file itself is not removed from the drive.  The problem comes, however, when a drive is formatted which can either simply delete the references to all files on the drive or be as extensive as writing files over the old files, then deleting those, and doing this over and over in multiple passes which is how to ensure data is truly destroyed.  This depends on what you used to format the drive.

The next problem is reinstalling the OS over the old files.  Seeing the old file becomes more difficult since there is now information sitting on top of it.  The more installs and the more you use the computer, the less the chances of recovering that file.  Having said that, this is what I would do to try.

First, STOP USING THE DRIVE.  Force shutdown the computer (hold the power button in for 5 seconds) to prevent the drive being written to any further.  This is not the optimal way to shut down a computer, but it is the best way to ensure the drive is not written over any further.

Remove the drive and put it into another XP computer as a secondary drive (so it doesnt boot to the patient drive).  Install one of the programs below on the helper computer.  Then run it and select the secondary drive (the patient drive) to scan.  If you know where the .pst file was, you will be farther ahead, as the displays usually show as a simple file structure as if you were looking at the drive from explorer.  Copy the .PST file you are trying to recover to the root drive (usually C:).  Once that completes, copy it to a flash drive or something similar.  Shut down that computer.

Place your drive back into its home, and fire it up.  Use the flash drive to move the PST to a location you want, then start OUTLOOK. Click NEW > OUTLOOK DATA FILE > OK > then select the location of the .PST file.

I have used OUTLOOK FIX but I think it is only designed to be used on the active partition, so a deleted partition of a secondary drive will not work.  I would try this ONLY as a LAST RESORT since it would need to be installed onto the drive with the deleted file. Of course this takes the chance of ruining that file further.

Pandora is free, and is able to recover images from deleted partitions.  This should work fine for you.

R-Studio is my fav, but the free version will not recover the entire file (since it is limited to 64k) but if you want to spend some $$, I recommend this program using the method above.

There used to be a free version called R-Undelete but now they charge for that one too. R-Studio is the newer version.


Good luck to you!
 

OUTLOOK FIX (FREE TO TRY, 159 TO BUY)
http://download.cnet.com/OutlookFIX/3000-2242_4-10464078.html

PANDORA FILE RECOVERY (FREE)
http://download.cnet.com/Pandora-Recovery/3000-2094_4-10694796.html?tag=mncol;4

R-STUDIO (FREE TO TRY, 79 TO BUY. TRIAL IS LIMITED TO 64K)
http://download.cnet.com/R-Studio-Data-Recovery/3000-2094_4-10061966.html
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by:Suliman Abu Kharroub
ID: 34927226
Final data recovery :

http://www.finaldata.com/
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by:Frosty555
ID: 34927274
Not to burst any bubbles, but if you did a "Full format" when you reinstalled Windows (not a "Quick Format"), the data is gone - the setup would have zeroed out the entire hard drive.

Your chances of success with a software data recovery tool are zero - they can't read data that isn't there.

Your chances of recovery using a professional (and very expensive) data recovery company who can analyze the disk for "ghost" remnants of the data are extremely slim, but I suppose not impossible.
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Author Closing Comment

by:mray77
ID: 34929357
Thanks for your help, your info and program suggestions have been a godsend.  Kudos to you!
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by:chcw
ID: 34930498
Just wonder if you have recovered your Outlook data successfully.

If not, then for your case, you can try

Advanced Outlook Data Recovery

which is designed to scan a disk/drive and recover Outlook data that have been stored on that disk/drive, then output them as a fixed PST file. Make sure you output the fixed PST file in another disk/drive so that not to overwrite the original disk.
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