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Every single recovered file is garbled and useless


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This is the first time I've used Recuva and may be the last if this is the way it works. Some time between April 1st and October, a critical folder disappeared from my virtual F (data) drive. I suspect it was in May when I had computer problems but can't be sure. At any rate, I have no backups old enough to recover the material. Imagine my delight when Recuva told me there were over 3000 files that had not been overwritten at all! I created a virtual drive on a separate external hard drive, selected only the files that said "Excellent" condition (took FOREVER, I wish there was away to select by condition), and set it going.

GARBAGE. Ever single file I've looked at either won't open at all because it's "not a valid PDF file" or "not a valid GIF file," etc., or, if it's a Word document, it shows me utter trash and asks what I want to do about it. I am LIVID. I purchased this software, and when it tells me a file is in "excellent" condition, and has not been overwritten at all, I expect to get the file back!

So why the devil does it not work?

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g'day @Echo0 and welcome,

first up, it must be said that any file recovery program has no guarantees.
data recovery is a minefield, which is why backups are so important (but that's a story for another day).

as you have discovered, the Pro has no better recovery algorithms than the Free version, it gives you priority support directly with Piriform and access to virtual drives.

so has the virtual drive had 6 months of usage since the deletion event?

I believe a condition of Excellent only refers to the first extent, so if the file was fragmented, all bets are off.
what is the OS and file system of the virtual drive?
what was the 'computer problem' and resolution?

Backup now & backup often.
It's your digital life - protect it with a backup.
Three things are certain; Birth, Death and loss of data. You control the last.

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'when it tells me a file is in "excellent" condition, and has not been overwritten at all, I expect to get the file back! '

Perhaps hope is better than expectation. The state of Excellent means that the clusters that were allocated to the file are not currently allocated to another live file. Recuva does not pass any judgement on the contents of those clusters. They may have been overwritten many times by other files which have subsequently been deleted. Recuva recovers what is there, not what was there many months ago. By the way if you left click on the State column header the state will be sorted, and all the Excellent files will be at the top. You can then easily highlight all the excellent files for recovery.

As  Mta says, what's the O/S, what's the file system? Did you run a deep scan? Did you use any selection criteria? Wizard or Advanced?

It may be nothing, but I would have created a folder called Recovery or something siniilar on your recovery disk and recovered to that, instead of another virtual disk. You want to elinimate as much extraneous software as possible in a recovery.

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First off, Augeas, the software itself recommends you create a virtual disk - that's why I did it. All I needed was one single folder off a virtual disk (partition) that contained no software. The O/S is Windows 7, Fat 32. I did rank them according to Condition and only selected Excellent. I was not able to limit the search to the single missing folder, so a hell of a lot of unnecessary material came up.

I don't understand why you say that "Excellent" can still mean it has been overwritten many times. The comments specifically said, "The file has not been overwritten." I thought that was pretty clear! It didn't say "hasn't been overwritten recently." It had the exact file names. It had exact file names on the files it said HAD been overwritten and couldn't be recovered. So is what you're saying that "Excellent" is a lie?

I do not remember now if I did a deep scan, selection criteria, wizard or advanced. I'm sorry I didn't answer sooner when I might have remembered, but I only remembered to check this forum today. So is there a different procedure I should try?

I don't even know how this folder got deleted! It's definitely not one I would have deleted deliberately. And as far as I can tell, nothing else is missing from that partition (the "F Drive"). I searched my entire computer - ALL partitions - and couldn't find it, so I didn't move it to a different virtual drive.

Mta, I do back up. EVERYTHING. Regularly. But eventually the backups take up more space than I have available on my external drive and the oldest ones are deleted. Apparently the folder vanished before the oldest backup I have. I now have a much larger external drive for future backups so I can keep the damn things for a year if I want.

Meanwhile, do I have any chance of getting my accidentally deleted files back?


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Only the Pro version asks to make a vhd.  Do you have Recuva Pro? If so, and if you're still within the year of priority support included, you should seek the direct method of contacting the developers you paid for, it's a lot better than us fellow users stabbing in the dark.





Do your Registry Cleaning in small bits (at the very least Check-mark by Check-mark)


CCLEANER, RECUVA, DEFRAGGLER AND SPECCY DOCUMENTATION CAN BE FOUND AT  https://support.piriform.com/hc/en-us and  https://www.ccleaner.com/docs

Pro users file a PRIORITY SUPPORT request at https://support.piriform.com/hc/en-us/requests/new

link to WINAPP2.INI explanation

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I didn't know that Recuva recommended  creating a virtual disk but either way it doesn't really matter. (Ah, Nergal's answered that one.)

No software can tell with absolute precision whether a deleted file's formerly allocated clusters have been overwritten by another file that has since been deleted. I'm sure it happens all the time with browsing. Whatever Piriform chose to use as a descriptor doesn't alter this. File names come from the root and other directories and their existence isn't indicative that the file can be recovered.

FAT32 systems have a trick up their sleeves on file deletion. The first two bytes of the file's start cluster address in the directory are set to zero, so Recuva, and all other software, will not be able to find the correct start of the file. If you are in Advanced mode and look at the info box for your files, you can see the start cluster address. If it is below 65,535 then it is possible, or even probable, that this is a corrupted address pointing to the wrong cluster. Recuva will recover data from the worng address which will be, as you say, trash.

You could try a deep scan but there will be no file or folder names returned, so you will have to examine everything that's found to see if it's one of your lost files.

To be frank as the files were lost many months ago the chance of recovery is in my opinion poor. I'm surprised that you seemed so het up about recovering your files, had a response within twenty minutes, yet it's taken almost five days to get back to the forum.


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I goofed, it's not FAT32, it's NTFS.

And believe it or not, an hour ago I found the folder. On another drive entirely. I hadn't deleted it, I hadn't lost it due to computer problems - I'd moved it, then forgot all about doing that.

Augeas, I already apologized for not coming back more quickly. I've recently been diagnosed with a heart condition and am having several problematic side effects from the new medications that have been prescribed. Yesterday I never made it to the computer at all. I'm doing the best I can, but that best just isn't very good, here or anywhere else.

Nergal, thank you. Yes, It is Recuva Professional v1.53.1087 (64-bit).


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