How to Scan a Drive for Errors in Windows

When you consider data recovery, it means something is already lost and it needs to be recovered from a storage medium. Causes for data loss can be various, like accidental deletion, a program crashing, power failure, or hardware failure.

But one of these causes can often be prevented by checking for errors on a regular basis. Computer maintenance is nobody’s favorite task, but a disk scan is simple and can help prevent data loss as a result of bad hardware.

Hard disks use magnetic material to store data, and the quality of the magnetic material on the hard disk platters can vary and deteriorate over time. So checking for bad disk sections will allow the operating system to relocate data from a bad location to a better location. If the bad location is then flagged to prevent re-use, it will never store data that can be lost.

In Windows it is easy to scan a disk for bad sectors.

Open My Computer in Windows to show the drives in the system.

In the My Computer view, right-click a drive and in the popup menu select Properties.

Disk properties in Windows

In the Disk Properties window, select the Tools tab, and then click the Check now button to open the disk check application.

In the next dialog box, select the option to Scan for and attempt recovery of bad sectors option to make sure the application checks the actual drive surface for bad spots.

Start a disk check in Windows

Next, click the Start button.

Now just wait for the process to complete. You can use the computer for other tasks, but if you are scanning the system disk (as in the example), the performance might be decreased as a result of the ongoing scan.

Note that the disk check can take considerable time depending on the size and speed of the hard disk.

You can also run a disk check on other drives, like SSDs or flash memory cards, but errors on (magnetic) hard drives are more common.

If you try to run a disk check on the system drive, you might get an error message like this:

Disk check error in Windows

Basically this means that that the disk check program cannot get access to the disk to check, so the disk check can be scheduled to run at the next startup. Simply click the Schedule disk check button to use that option.
Next time you reboot your computer, the disk check will take place as part of the startup process. This will happen before the Windows GUI is loaded, so do not be surprised if the boot up process takes longer in that case.

If you run a disk check like this on a regular basis, you can help prevent data loss as a result of failing storage media, so hopefully you never need to recover lost files again!

How to create a backup of photos with Picasa

Picasa is a great tool to manage your photo collection, and to create web albums for sharing.

If you are using Picasa to manage the photos on your computer, it is important to make a regular backup, so you do not lose any precious pictures. Of course you can use the standard Windows backup option, or use a 3rd party backup manager, but Picasa also has a backup function.

To make a backup of your photos with Picasa, follow these steps.

First open Picasa, and in the Tools menu, select Back Up Pictures…

Picasa photo backup menu

If this is the first time you use the function, you will first need to create a backup set, which is basically a configuration that tells Picasa what to backup and where to backup the photos.

You will see the following pane show up in the bottom of the Picasa window:

Create a new backup set in Picasa

Click the New Set button to create a new backup set.

Now you need to type a name for the backup set and select which files to backup and where to.

Details for backup set

In the example screenshot we have selected our Network Attached Storage (NAS) as the target device, but you can of course also use a CD, DVD, USB stick or external hard drive. As long as there is enough storage space available.

Click Create to finalize the new backup set.

Back in the panel in Picasa’s main window, you can now select the new backup set in the left side (step 1). In step 2 on the right side, you select which folders to backup. You can use Select All to backup everything, or select individual folders by placing checkmarks in front of them in the folder selection pane.

Once you are done selecting the folders to backup, you click the Backup button.

The backup progress is shown in Picasa itself:

Progress of the Picasa backup

After the backup completes, a windows explorer window will open with the target location.

A number of files and folders are created by the Picasa photo backup:

Files and folders in backup location

Now your backup is complete, and if you ever need to restore photos from the backup, simply execute the PicaseRestore.exe in the backup location.

That will bring up the photo restore window from Picasa, and you can select where to restore the photos to.

Restore photo from backup

After this you have a safe copy of your photos and have reduced the risk that you ever lose the photos completely!

How to Restore the Recycle Bin in Windows

Before you can recover any files from the Windows Recycle Bin, you need to be able to access the Recylce Bin. But what if it is not visible on the desktop? Maybe you accidentally deleted it, or never noticed it was not there. To restore the Recylce Bin in Windows Vista, Windows 7 and Windows 8, follow these steps:

1) Open the Control Panel from the Start menu.

2) In the Control Panel Window, select Appearance and Personalization.

3) Next, click the Personalization link.

4) In the left hand pane, click the Change desktop icons link.

Change desktop icons in Control Panel

5) In the Desktop Icon Settings window, make sure the checkbox in front of Recycle Bin is checked, and click OK.

Enable Recycle Bin icon

Now you can close the Control Panel windows and make the desktop visible. The Recycle Bin icon should be visible on the desktop, so now you can use it to restore your files and folders.

In Windows XP the only way to remove the Recycle Bin from the desktop is to use a third party GUI tweak application, like TweakUI. So to restore the Recylce Bin icon it is generally also best to use that same application.

The registry key associated with the Recycle Bin in Windows is:

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\Desktop\NameSpace\{645FF040-5081-101B-9F08-00AA002F954E}

The (Default) entry in this registry key needs to be a string containing the value “Recycle Bin”, as visible in the screenshot below.

Registry setting for recycle bin

If that key does not exist, you can create it using the Registry Editor. When you start the Registry Editor, first make a backup by exporting the registry using the export all option. That way you can always restore the previous backup in case you make a mistake.

 

How to restore lost pictures from a digital camera

Digital cameras are perfect for quick snapshots and even video recording. The quality of the cameras has improved a lot over the years, and as a result of high megapixel CCDs, the picture quality is great. Luckily the storage capacity of digital cameras has also increased, since high resolution pictures require big files to store them in!

Normally you would transfer your pictures from your digital camera to your computer before you erase them and start storing new pictures. But it can happen that a picture is accidentally removed, or was copied and removed on a different computer. And once the picture is removed from the internal memory of the digital camera, it is gone… or not?

Actually, the pictures can often still be restored from the digital camera, as long as you did not make too many new pictures with the camera. The image data is preserved on the internal memory as long as the there is no new picture data that overwrites the space. That means the pictures can be restored by using data recovery software.

Here are the steps to use Quick Data Recovery to restore files from a digital camera:

Step 1 – Download and install the Quick Data Recovery software.

Click this link to download the software installer, and once the download completes, double-click the file to install the program on your Windows computer.

Step 2 – Connect the digital camera to the computer.

Most digital cameras have the option to connect to a computer using a USB cable, as shown in the following picture.

Connect digital camera to PC using USB

But for the lost pictures to be restored by the recovery software, it is necessary that the memory in the digital camera is accessible by the computer as a logical drive. When a USB cable is used to connect the digital camera to your computer, Windows does not assign a drive letter to the digital camera.

No drive letters for digital camera storage

You will see the camera, and both the Fixed storage and Removable storage are visible, but not with a drive letter assignment.

So the best way to restore the pictures from the digital camera, is to remove the memory card from the digital camera and insert it into the computer directly. Most digital camera’s use a SD card (SD, SDHC, SDHX, either in original, mini or micro size), so you need a PC or laptop with a SD slot.

Here is how the card and SD slot, or card reader, will look when being inserted into a laptop.

SD card in laptop card reader

Make sure to push the SD card completely into the slot, so you hear or feel it lock into place. Windows will automatically recognize the memory and assign the device a drive letter.

If you laptop or PC does not have a card reader installed, you can also use a USB based card reader. The SD card or memory card is inserted into the USB reader and then you connect the reader to a USB port on your computer.

Step 3 – Start the Quick Data Recovery application on the computer.

You can double-click the desktop icon, or start the program from the Start menu.

Step 4 – In the first application window, click the Photo Recovery option.

SD card photo recovery

Step 5 – Select the volume to recovery data from and click the Scan Now button.

The volume is the disk volume, or drive, that will be scanned by the program. Here you need to select the drive letter that is associated with the SD card of the digital camera.

Next, wait for the scan to complete and the results to come up. Please note that the time taken to scan for deleted data will vary depending on the size of the memory card.

Step 6 – Search for the photo file to restore from the memory of the digital camera.

In the scan results you can see the folders in the left-hand side of the window. Deleted folders show with a red cross in the folder icon. Once you select a folder, the bottom-right-hand side of the window will show you the files in the folder, again deleted files showing with a red cross in the icon.

Select files to recover from digital camera memory

For image files, you can see a preview of the file contents by clicking the file name. The top half of the right-hand side of the window will show the file contents if available. For non-recognized file types, you will see a hexadecimal display.

Once you found the picture file to restore from the memory card, select it (or them in case multiple pictures need to be restored), and click the Recover icon in the bottom-right of the window.

Note: In case you have not registered the application yet, the program will prompt you to do so at this time.

Step 7 – Select the destination for the file(s) to be restored.

The last step is for you to select the drive and folder to where you want to restore the file. This needs to be a different location, do not select the memory card as the destination, as that would not allow future recovery attempts to take place. So select a hard drive and folder on it, and click OK.

That’s it, the file(s) you selected are now restored from the digital camera’s memory to the drive you selected. Use the Windows file explorer to navigate to the destination and open the files with an imaging application!

How to restore lost files from a USB stick

USB sticks, or flash drives, are great for storing files that you need to bring along to your office or on a trip. Since they come in large sizes, there are no real limits to the type of file you can store on it.

But like with any storage medium, files on USB sticks can get lost. Whether it is by accidental deletion, disk corruption, incorrect removal or a virus, a situation can occur where files on the USB stick are no longer accessible from the Windows file explorer, or retrievable from the Recycle Bin.

Although this often might not be a problem, since USB sticks are generally used to move files from one place to another, you will often see this problem happen just when you did save your changes to the USB stick!

Very often it is quite possible to still retrieve the lost files from the USB stick using a recovery program. The first thing to remember is to not copy any new data to the USB stick, as that can overwrite the lost files you want to restore!

Here are the steps to use Quick Data Recovery Pro to restore files from a USB stick:

Step 1 – Download and install the Quick Data Recovery Pro software.

Click this link to download the software installer, and once the download completes, double-click the file to install the program on your Windows computer.

Step 2 – Insert the USB stick into a working USB port.

Note: in case the file loss is the result of a virus, make sure the computer you are using has active, and up-to-date anti-virus software installed, so it does not get infected!

Step 3 – Start the Quick Data Recovery Pro application on the computer.

You can double-click the desktop icon, or start the program from the Start menu.

Step 4 – In the first application window, click the Recovery Files & Folders option.

Select the option to recover files and folders

Step 5 – Select the volume to recovery data from and click the Start Scan button.

The volume is the disk volume, or drive, that will be scanned by the program. Here you need to select the drive letter that is associated with your USB stick.

Select volume for USB drive

Next, wait for the scan to complete and the results to come up. Please note that if the results do not show the file you are looking for, you can try the scan again with the Advanced Scan option selected instead of the Normal Scan.

Step 6 – Search for the file to restore fom the USB stick.

In the scan results you can see the folders in the left-hand side of the window. Deleted folders show with a red cross in the folder icon. Once you select a folder, the bottom-right-hand side of the window will show you the files in the folder, again deleted files showing with a red cross in the icon.

Showing scan results of USB stick

For recognized file types, you can see a preview of the file contents by clicking the file name. The top half of the right-hand side of the window will show the file contents if available. For non-recognized file types, you will see a hexadecimal display.

Once you found the file to restore from the USB stick, select it (or them in case multiple files need to be restored), and click the Recover icon in the bottom-right of the window.

Note: In case you have not registered the application yet, the program will prompt you to do so at this time.

Step 7 – Select the destination for the file(s) to be restored.

The last step is for you to select the drive and folder where you want to restore the file to. This needs to be a different location, do not select the USB stick as the destination, as that would not allow future recovery attempts to take place. So select a different drive and folder, and click OK.

That s it, the file(s) you selected are now restored from the USB stick to the drive you selected. Use the Windows file explorer to navigate to the destination and open the files with their original application!