There are several command-line utilities that recover data from damaged disks by ignoring errors. One of them, Bad Block Copy for Windows, works this way: If you have multiple copies of a given file, you can reconstruct them into composite wholes.
Although I like the program, I didn't much care for its command-line interface. (I admit, I like GUIs. Feel free to hate me for it.) After some investigating I've found another utility that accomplishes many of the same things with a user-friendly Windows interface: Unstoppable Copier 3.1.
Unstoppable Copier will attempt to copy files from anywhere—hard drive, removable disk, CD or DVD—paying special attention to files that are not copying correctly. Run the program and you'll be greeted with a simple interface that lets you select a source folder and a target, then allows you to choose some relevant settings, such as how aggressively to retry copying a bad file, whether to copy or move files and whether to handle undamaged files first.
Administrators can use the program's "Resume Partial Files" option to re-try a recovery operation that wasn't completed before—for instance, if you've changed some aspect of the recovery environment (perhaps new drive cables) and want to give it another go.
The default settings will attempt to create composite reconstructions out of damaged files, inserting nulls where damaged data simply could not be recovered. In some cases you may be able to make a full recovery of the data, depending on how badly damaged the original media is. You can create an optional logfile of the recovery procedure as well, although basic statistics about the copy operation are logged right in the program's GUI.
Finally, aside from being free, the program doesn't need to be installed—it will run from anywhere, so you can throw it onto a USB drive or a recovery CD.
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.
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