Nothing is more agonizing than popping in the only known CD or DVD backup of some data and not being able to read it—or even mount the volume in the first place. Because of the way Windows handles CD/DVD media, it's often impossible to recover the data. There's no way to bypass Windows' own attempts to mount the disc and simply read sector-by-sector.
IsoBuster 1.9.1, a data recovery freeware package was written specifically to recover data from CD and DVD media. The software supports almost every existing CD or DVD format, including relatively exotic formats like CD-I, CD-ROM XA and DVD-RAM, as well as the file systems used by those discs: UDF (from 1.02 to 2.50), Mount Rainier, Rock Ridge, HFS (for Macintosh discs), ISO9660 and others.
The data recovery freeware also supports reading from discs created with packet-writing software such as Roxio Direct CD, Nero InCD and NTI's File CD (among others), and can also interpret CD image files from multiple programs—not just .ISOs, as the name implies, but also Nero's .NRG format, .BIN/.CUE files, and dozens of others.
With the software, a disc can be read sector by sector, and data on the disc can be recovered automatically or with manual assistance. The program bypasses Windows' typical ways of mounting and reading a disc, so even discs that would not mount under Windows itself are readable.
One powerful feature of the program is the ability to create "managed image files." If you have several different CD/DVD drives and want to use all of them to extract as much data as possible from a given disc (since some drives read certain types of discs better than others), you can the IsoBuster data recovery freeware to create a composite image of a given disc using multiple drives.
The program's free trial version has many of its features enabled. The professional version, priced at $25.95, unlocks the product's more advanced features.
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About the author: Serdar Yegulalp is editor of the Windows Insight, (formerly the Windows Power Users Newsletter), a blog site devoted to hints, tips, tricks and news for users and administrators of Windows NT, Windows 2000, Windows XP, Windows Server 2003 and Vista. He has more than 12 years of Windows experience under his belt, and contributes regularly to SearchWinComputing.com and SearchSQLServer.com.