Data Recovery & Secure Deletion software report

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Introduction

System failures are becoming a dominant scenario in the digital computing age. Such failures can result in hardware can cause access to the data difficult, or may result to data loss. Apart from data loss due to system failures, there are cases associated with accidental deletion of data. Data recovery strategies aim at salvaging data from digital storage media, which may be because of a damaged or corrupted disk that renders the data inaccessible using normal access methods (Nelson, 2011). Numerous software utilities can aid the process of data recovery, with each having different functionalities and limitations to suit a particular context of data loss. This paper provides a review of Recuva and Eraser software utilities.

Recuva

Recuva is a data recovery application developed by Piriform. It is available for free and works under Microsoft XP, 2003, 2000 and Windows 7. The file systems capability that Recuva can support are NTFS, FAT and exFAT file systems. The current version of Recuva is not supported in Linux and MAC OS X environments. Recuva is used to recover data that has been subject to permanent deletion by the operating system. In addition, the software can also be used to recover data from external digital storage media such as flash drives and memory cards (Piriform, 2011).

Product features

Recuva has a graphical user interface that is easy to use. Most of the program functionalities are accessible by clicking the functionality buttons such as scan to display the list of files that one wants to recover. Results’ filtering is also another product feature, where results are displayed according to file names and types. In addition, Recuva has the capability of storing all types of files that are recognized by the Windows operating systems. An important feature of Recuva is that it is fast and does not take much of the processor time during run time. Apart from file recovery, Recuva has a secure deletion feature, whereby deleted files cannot be recovered using any other data recovery software (Piriform, 2011).

How Recuva retrieves lost data

Data storage on a windows operating system deploys the use of a Master File Table to index files stored on hard disks. When a file is deleted, it is marked on the MFT as deleted, implying that the file is still available on the hard drive, unless Windows overwrites the file location. Recuva functions by scanning the MFT entries for files that have been marked as deleted. File attributes such as name, size and date of modification are usually stored in the MFT, and Recuva therefore displays this attributes and comprehensive lists of files that the user may want to recover. In case Windows overwrites the MFT entries, Recuva cannot recover files, whose MFT entries have been overwritten, therefore it vital to rub Recuva immediately after the accidental deletion (Surhone & Timpledon, 2011).

Recuva also uses the deep scan process to analyze the MFT files and the hard drive contents. In the deep scan strategy, Recuva scans each cluster on the hard drive or the external storage media to determine the header that denotes the start of a file. These headers contain information regarding the file attributes. The limitation of the deep scan method is that Recuva has no capabilities of recollecting fragmented files back to one piece.

In addition, the user can deploy the use of the two-scan method, whereby Recuva searches the drive for deleted data, while the second scan is used to report the chances of successful recovery for the identified files (Surhone & Timpledon, 2011).

The major improvement required in Recuva is to enhance its ability recover files that have been deleted securely. In addition, Recuva software should be designed in such a manner that corrupted files can be restored to their normal functionalities.

Eraser

Eraser is security utility for Windows Operating systems that allows the user to permanently delete files from hard drives by overwriting the data location several times, making it difficult to recover such data. The current version of Eraser works under Windows XP, Windows Server 2003, Vista, Server 2008 Release 2, and Windows 7. Eraser comes with a simple graphical user interface to facilitate secure deletion of files, which involves the use of drag and drop to delete files securely. The functionality of Eraser is limited to drives that are formatted using Windows. An important aspect of Eraser is that its scheduler can be customized according to the user deletion requirements. Eraser integrates itself into the windows context menu, and provides the user with a choice of the secure deletion algorithms that are government sanctioned (Heidi Computers, 2011).

How eraser works

Normal deletion of files does not eliminate the files from the hard drives, rather it only deletes the reference or access to the file, since the file attributes are indexed on the MFT table, thereby providing a chance of recovering data that has not been deleted securely. For secure deletion to occur, the file index in the MFT must be reset to zeros and blanks in order guarantee that the file cannot be recovered.  Eraser ensures secure file deletion by use of multiple overwrites on the MFT index entries. Multiple overwrites serve to eliminate the possibility of file recovery by studying the magnetic fields of the hard drive (Heidi Computers, 2011). Eraser makes use of overwriting patterns that are based on secure Deletion of data from magnetic memory and other solid-state memory. In addition, Eraser ensures that there are no magnetic remnants, which can be used to trace the deleted data. The design of Eraser puts into consideration the various issues associated with permanent deletion such as data encoding and write cache. A functionality review revealed that Eraser securely deleted IGB data in 10 minutes, which is not bad for a secure deletion process (Inman, 2011).

Conclusion and Further Work

            Recuva and Eraser are one of the freeware available currently to foster effective data recovery, secure file deletion as evident in the file recovery, and secure data deletion algorithms. Significant improvements are needed on the Recuva in order to facilitate the recovery and restoration of corrupted and fragmented files in the hard drive. Eraser should enhance the usability of their software by use of direct button for secure deletion instead of the drag and drop strategy.

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