Product Review: Undelete(r) 3

by Tom Cannaerts

Tom Cannaerts reviews Undelete from Executive Software. Is this product something that can help you?

In brief
As the name implies, Undelete, from Executive Software® is a utility the can undelete deleted files. It can do so in various ways, giving you a better protection than most simular tools.

The Recovery Bin
You can install UnDelete as a Windows service. By doing this, it will replace the standard Recycling bin with it's own Recovery Bin. When a file is deleted, the file is transfered to the Recovery Bin. A key difference between this and the standard recycle bin is that this will also capture files deleted from across the network. If a user accidently deletes a file on the server, it can be found in the Recovery Bin.

Recovery bin
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The Recovery Bin itself is easy to use. As you can see, it has a treeview containing the structure of your system. You can easely navigate to the folder the file was deleted from, and then recover the file with just a few clicks. The Recovery Bin can also hold multiple versions of the file, in case you have deleted a file at the same location multiple times.

To avoid your system running full with deleted files, you are able to set a size limit for each drive, and what action should be taken when it is reached, Eg, setting the bin to automatically purge when it's full will result in the oldest files (those who have been in the bin the longest) being deleted automatically until the file(s) fit the bin.

Recovery bin actions Recovery bin limits

Another feature of the Recovery Bin is that it includes search functionality, allowing you to find a file if you don't know it's exact location. This also include the ability to search for files deleted by a specific user, or at a specific time.

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Undelete from Disk
The Recovery Bin allows you to manually (or automatically) delete files from the bin. However, if you deleted a file from the bin, you can still recover it using Undelete from disk, given that the file hasn't been overwritten by the Recovery Bin.

Emergency Undelete®
This allows you to recover files on systems that don't have UnDelete installed. It can run almost completely from CD (except for some registry keys), thus making the chances of a recovery larger since there is only a little disk access. It will scan the drive for lost files, in a way most undelete programs do. To be honest, I was very amazed when I ran it on our server, looking at the number of files it was able to recover.

Emergency Undelete
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Finally, there's somewhat of a contradiction here, since it also comes with a program called SecureDelete. While UnDelete will try to recover deleted files, SecureDelete enables you to delete files in such a manner that they can't be recovered, not even using Emergency Undelete. This can give you the privacy/security required in some situations, like when you decide to sell or dispose your hardware.

Undelete (and the accompanied programs) are good at what they do, and have earned their spot in the market. But what can it do for us developers? Well, it depends on how you work. Undelete can't compete with (let alone replace) sourcecode/version-control programs like SourceSafe and others. This is mainly because it captures deleted files, not the changes to files. However, as even the most skilled computer users (including us developers) can make mistakes, unwanted deletions can happen very fast. In the case that you aren't using version-control software (often with smaller, single developer projects), this would mean you would probably have to go back to the latest backup, and potentially lose a day's work.
As a developer, I would stick to my regular version control program, but as a system administrator, this tool can be well worth the money to the last cent, being a great addition to already existing backup solutions.

This article was originally published on Wednesday Jun 25th 2003
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