PowerQuest's Lost & Found utility follows the philosophy of doing one thing very well.
Lost & Found specializes in recovering files from crashed floppy or hard disks. In my tests, it did not seem to matter whether the cause of the crash was a physical defect or buggy software.
The tool does not follow the same logic as most other data-recovery programs, which try and often fail to fix the disk, and thus inspire a false sense of security. If the damaged data is simply moved to readable sectors and the boot log changed to prevent writing new data on bad sectors, any physical defects will persist and might spread.
Lost & Found does not pretend to fix the broken disk. It focuses solely on capturing and repairing the data and depositing it on a new disk or in a safe area on the hard drive.
The interface, as you might expect of a single-purpose product, is quite good. It runs diagnostics and then groups the found files into color-coded categories to show at a glance which are likely to be recoverable.
Lost & Found performed as well in my tests as other disk-recovery programs that are part of tool suites. With physical disk defects, it performed much better.
I stored several photographs on a floppy disk and then scratched its magnetic surface with a paper clip. When disk-recovery programs from two different suites tried to fix the disk, they told me erroneously that everything was fine, although one warned the disk might be unreliable.
Sure enough, within five accesses it became unreadable. Again the suite tools recovered the files and said everything was fine. Again the disk failed after a few writings. The third time, none of the files could be saved.
But Lost & Found simply rescued my files into a safe directory on the hard drive and made no attempt to fix the scratched floppy--something that software could not have done anyway.
One simultaneous advantage and disadvantage of Lost & Found is its arrival on two floppies instead of the usual CD-ROM. Granted, it's a small program and could not occupy much of a CD, but some mobile users will have to carry floppy-drive peripherals with them in case they need the program in a crisis.
At $70, Lost & Found costs as much as an entire utility suite. If a user customarily stores lots of important data on floppies, the purchase is justifiable. Otherwise, standard utility suite tools should be adequate.
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Lost & Found
Web address: www.powerquest.com
Purpose: Data recovery
+ Excellent data recovery from simple interface
+ Cause of data loss irrelevant
-- Fairly expensive, single-purpose tool
Real-life requirements: Any Windows operating system, OS/2 2.1 or MS -- DOS 5.0; any Intel or compatible processor; 8 megabytes of RAM