Fresh Off The Block


Sep
17
2015

[Review] Mini Tool Power Data Recovery 7.0

We've all had that moment. You delete a file that you didn't mean to, or that you didn't think you'd need at the time; you empty the Recycle Bin; and then suddenly you realise – damn, I actually needed that! You probably also thought the file was gone for good – deleting it from the Recycle Bin was your last chance to get it back, right? Wrong!

When files are deleted in Windows, Windows simply "forgets" about the file, acting like it no longer exists; and tells the hard drive it was stored on that it can use the space owned by that file again. A file is only truly "erased" when the space it used is fully written over. This means if you act fast, you can usually recover a file that you've deleted entirely from Windows, with minimal to no damage. To do this, you need a File Recovery tool. One such tool is Mini Tool Power Data Recovery – but is it as good as it sounds? In this article, we run it through its paces.

Setup

It is not very often when reviewing software that I start by talking about the setup process itself, because most Windows software that uses an installer to set up the software for your computer works in broadly similar ways – click Next, review the Licence and agree to it (if there is one), choose where to put the software, add extra options such as Desktop Icons, and click Next again and let it do its work. The setup for MiniTool Power Data Recovery is no different, bar one exception. As I mentioned in the introduction to this review, it's important that if you are trying to recover a document, you do not write new data to the drive you are trying to recover from, because any new data could overwrite that document and make it irrecoverable. To that end, the setup for MiniTool Power Data Recovery warns you of this fact, asking you to confirm the location you want to install the program to and reminding you not to install to the same drive you want to recover from as soon as you click "Next" on "Select Destination Location" – regardless of where you install the program to.

That warning message, asking you to confirm you want to install to the specified location

That warning message, asking you to confirm you want to install to the specified location

To some, this message may come across as a little scary, and may suggest that any folder you install the program to is wrong. However, it is simply providing useful advice and asking you to double-check your choice to make sure you don't do something you'll regret later. Kudos, Mini Tool!

First Impressions

After installing MiniTool Power Data Recovery and running it for the first time, you'll be presented with the main interface for MiniTool Power Data Recovery, which will also appear first in all subsequent runs.

The main interface

The main interface

MiniTool Power Data Recovery is mostly geared towards recovering lost files, whether those accidentally deleted as mentioned in my introduction, or in the case of removable media, through formatting. To that end, the tool includes three file-related recovery options – Undelete Recovery, Digital Media Recovery and CD/DVD Recovery. But MPDR (to give it a shorter title) has a far greater remit, as the tool also includes the ability to recover whole disk partitions that have been damaged (Damaged Partition Recovery) or can no longer be found by the target computer (Lost Partition Recovery). All of these tools are presented on the main interface in large, two-tone buttons (not unlike the tiled interface of more recent Windows and Windows Phone releases); and mousing over an option presents a description of the tool accompanied by a charming animation of the tool’s icon – for example, mousing over “Undelete Files” makes the trash can icon lift and shake its lid for a moment, while the label changes to explain that the tool offers the ability to “Quick scan, recover deleted files”.

Our testing methodology

Obviously, when it comes to tools that claim to recover deleted files, it’s important to test that the software can both find deleted files; and how well it recovers them. We tested Mini Tool Power Data Recovery by first creating and then permanently deleting two files to see if the software would succeed in both counts.

The first of these two files was a text file, which we called “Recoverme.txt”, containing simply a sentence of dummy text:

(No caption)

(No caption)

The second was an image, a copy of our website’s logo. This way, we would get a good measure of the tool’s ability to find and recover both small, simple files and larger, more complicated ones.

Our website's logo, which we used as part of the test.

Our website’s logo, which we used as part of the test.

Undelete Recovery

For many people, Undelete Recovery is likely to be the feature they will use the most. This tool is designed to help people recover individual files that have been permanently deleted or lost from their computer.

After clicking "Undelete Recovery" from the first screen

After clicking “Undelete Recovery” from the first screen

Upon clicking the icon for Undelete Recovery, there will be a quick loading bar, and the program will present you with a list of drives attached to your computer. Simply select the one where the lost files are found; and click Scan. As the description of the tool states, MiniTool Power Data Recovery performs a quick scan (no more than a minute in my tests on a 250GB hard drive); and then presents you with the files it has found which may be recoverable:

The same results in "List" view.

The same results in “List” view.

The results of the scan can be seen in one of two methods, which can be selected using tabs below the blue toolbar. By default, the list starts in “List” view, which presents you with a list of files and folders similar to browsing a folder tree in Explorer. In this view, files are grouped into the folder the program believes they may have come from, allowing you to find a file by where you last remember it being. There is also a “Lost Files” folder, for files that have no last known location.

The results of a test scan in "Type" view, one of the two available views.

The results of a test scan in “Type” view, one of the two available views.

In “Type” view, seen above, the results are organised by the type of file that the tool has found, with separate sections for “Pictures”, “Archives” (things like Zip Files and installers), and so on, with other files or those of unknown type getting placed into an “Other Files” category. This view can be useful for finding a specific file when you know what it was you need to recover, but can’t remember where it was. However, our testing returned many files that were simply classified as “other”, and only three files that were categorised in any way, suggesting this view may not always work as intended. Results will obviously vary on a person-by-person basis and the level of usage of the drive in question.

Unfortunately, because Undelete Recovery only performs quick scans, it may not search the computer very thoroughly and may miss files even if they were only recently deleted. In our test, Undelete Recovery twice failed to locate the files we created and deleted despite being ran only a short time afterwards. This means it may fail to be a solution for many people who need their files recovered without waiting for the more thorough, but longer scans to complete.

Digital Media Recovery

“Recover lost photos, mp3/mp4 files and video files from flash drives and memory sticks.” While this tool’s name and description may imply that it’s tailored mostly toward scanning SD Cards and USB Sticks etc, or for finding pictures and video, Digital Media Recovery is really MiniTool Power Data Recovery’s equivalent to a “full scan”, as opposed to Undelete Recovery’s “Quick Scan”. As a result, it takes a much longer time to complete, but finds and identifies a much wider array of files – many more than the tool’s description may suggest, including Microsoft Office and OpenOffice Files. In fact, during testing, the same 250GB hard drive that scanned in a minute using Undelete Recovery was estimated to take 9 hours in Digital Media Recovery mode.

MiniTool Power Data Recovery - Digital Media Recovery - Scan Progress Dialog

This will take a while…

This is a preview for an upcoming article, which is not yet completed. Come back soon to read the full article!

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    Previous Articles


    Mar
    19
    2015

    [Review] Mini Tool Partition Wizard 9.0

    While not a tool that should be used without care, Partitioning Software is something no serious computer user should be without. If you imagine a hard drive as like a pie, partitioning software is the knife and scoop. Traditionally, such tools give you the ability to cut the storage of a hard drive into multiple "slices" (called partitions) so that you can, for example, split one drive into two to keep personal data separate from the rest of Windows, letting you keep ahold of it if you need to reinstall Windows later – or, you can use a slice to install a different system entirely. They also let you move or copy slices from one drive to another, for example for easy backups; and in some cases, even put the slices back together again.

    If you feel the need to manage your drives in such ways – and you're mindful of the dangers – then there are a whole number of Partition Management products you can use, many of which work in broadly similar ways and have similar visuals. Today we review one such candidate: Mini Tool Partition Manager 9.0

    Features

    • Basic Partition Management:
      • Create / Delete / Format / Hide Partition
      • Change Drive Letter
      • Set Partition Label
      • Convert FAT/FAT32 to NTFS; or NTFS to FAT32
    • Advanced Partition Management:
      • Move/Resize Partition
      • Extend Partition
      • Split Partition
      • Align Partition
      • Wipe Partition
      • Explore Partition
      • Set Partition as Primary
      • Set Partition as Logical
      • Copy Partition Wizard
      • Partition Recovery Wizard
      • Migrate OS to SSD/HD
      • Windows Storage Spaces
    • Basic Disk Management
      • Disk Copy
      • Delete All Partitions
      • Align All Partitions
      • Recover All Partitions
      • Rebuild MBR
      • Wipe Disk
      • Convert MBR Disk to GPT Disk, or vice versa
    • Additional Functions (Not in Free edition)
      • Merge Partition
      • Change Cluster Size
      • Resize/Move/Delete/Format Dynamic Volume
      • Change Dynamic Volume Letter
      • Change Dynamic Volume label
      • Wipe Volume
      • Change Dynamic Volume Cluster Size
      • Convert Dynamic Disk to Basic
      • Copy Volume

    Mini Tool Partition Manager 9.0 Website

    Full Review

    MiniTool Partition Wizard aims to be everyone's one-stop-shop for any Partitioning and many disk management needs with a large number of supported features that cover all the bases for managing partitions, master boot records and basic disk management, all available through a streamlined interface common to most software in this category.

    When you open MiniTool Partition Manager, it may sometimes appear at first that nothing is happening. However, after a short delay you should see a splash screen introducing the program; and some time after this, the program itself should appear. The delay in opening and loading the program is to give it time to first ask your computer for information about the disks and partitions currently on the computer; and then process it so that it can show you the correct information and allow you to properly manage everything.

    The main interface of MiniTool Partition Manager, before anything has been selected.

    The main interface of MiniTool Partition Manager, before anything has been selected.

    Mini Tool allows you to select either the entire disk or individual partitions to work with, the options available changing to suit the selection. Selecting what to work with is done either by clicking the name of the partition or the disk on the list; or clicking the box for the partition or the picture of the drive in the upper graph.

    The Wizards

    Using a Partition Manager can be daunting to those who have never worked with partitions before, or who aren’t very familiar with computers. Thankfully, Mini Tool offers four very friendly Wizards to make it easy to perform a range of common tasks, which are always available at the top of the “Actions and Wizards” pane, to the left. The Migrate OS to SSD/HD option, for example, allows moving your entire Windows install to another disk, which could be useful if you recently installed a larger hard drive or a Solid State Drive and want Windows to be able to take advantage of more space or better performance. The Wizard asks which Drive should hold Windows now, although you will not be able to select a disk that doesn’t have enough space for the move.

    An example of the first screen of the Migrate OS to SSD/HD Wizard. Here, the Wizard is not allowing me to move my Windows install to a 15GB SD card because it would not fit.

    An example of the first screen of the Migrate OS to SSD/HD Wizard. Here, the Wizard is not allowing me to move my Windows install to a 15GB SD card because it would not fit.

    Assuming you have a large enough drive, you’ll then be warned that the drive to be moved to will have any existing data erased; you’ll then have the option of how to set up the new drive with Windows installed. The Wizard offers quick options to either have Windows take up all the space of the new disk (“Fit partition to entire disk”) or keep it the same size, leaving any extra space on the disk unused (“Copy without resize”); but you can also make this adjustment yourself by choosing “Edit the partitions on this disk”.

    The next two Wizards are the Copy Partition and Copy Disk Wizards. The first allows you to make an exact copy of one of your partitions into another partition; and the second allows a whole Hard Drive, SD Card, USB Drive or other disk to another; and are the same dialogues shown by clicking “Copy” after selecting a Disk or Partition in the main interface. This is in four steps: First, select what to copy; second, select where to copy to. After clicking Next, you’ll be asked if you want to do any resizing. Finally click Finish, to save the task.

    The final Wizard is the Partition Recovery Wizard, which allows you to scan a drive for lost or damaged partitions and potentially recover them. After clicking “Next” to begin, you select the drive to scan, using a window very similar to the “Migrate OS” window shown above. You’ll then be presented with options for how you want to scan the drive – scanning the whole drive, only space without a partition (if there isn’t any, this option will be disabled), or a range you choose.

    Partition Recovery Options

    Following this screen you’ll be asked if you wish to do a Quick Scan or a Full Scan. Quick Scan skips over a partition once it finds one it deems missing or damaged in order to find others quicker, and is useful if you believe you only have one missing partition or all the missing ones are in one continuous line. Full Scan does a more thorough scan which should give more accurate results, but as a result is also slower. The scan begins after clicking “Next”.

    A Recovery scan in progress

    A Recovery scan in progress

    Other Features

    These Wizards offer an easy way to access some of the main features of the product; and make it very simple for an average user to manage their disks in as simple a manner as possible. However, many other features are offered by the software outside of these Wizards, which appear in the “Disk” and “Partition” menus at the top of the screen; or by clicking a partition or disk in the main interface to work with.

    Selecting a partition, for example, reveals the bulk of the options offered by the software, with the toolbar at the top offering all the common options: Move/Resize, Merge, Delete, Format, Copy, Label and Properties. These options also appear in the sidebar on the left, where they are joined by a number of other options that represent most of the features offered by the program, such as Aligning the partition to increase performance; a Surface Test to ensure it’s working correctly; Wipe Partition which allows the entire partition to be quickly erased if it isn’t needed any more; and various options to view and alter its properties. These options also appear in the “Partition” Menu, at the very top of the program. Selecting an entire disk reveals a much shorter list of options, focusing on managing the entire disk or all the partitions in bulk. The toolbar offers only a “Copy” option to copy the entire Disk; but the sidebar or opening the “Disk” menu reveal many more features – Aligning all the partitions at once; Deleting all the partitions (not recommended!); Rebuilding the MBR; a whole disk Surface Test; a Disk Wipe for erasing the contents of the disk, keeping its partitions intact; a tool to recover potentially lost partitions; and “Convert MBR to GPT disk”.

    Importantly for safety, Mini Tool never performs any of the tasks its asked to do straight away. Rather, for tasks that involve any changes to the disks or partitions themselves – which will be the bulk of the options – the things you ask Mini Tool to do will be added to a queue. The program will only start performing the work – in the order they were added to the queue – by clicking the “Apply” button and confirming you want the program to start work. This allows you to double-check everything you do and offers a safeguard against any mistakes, helping to reduce the potential to leave yourself without a working computer or hard drive.

    Conclusion

    All in all, Mini Tool offers a good bridge between power and simplicity, allowing both power users and the average computer enthusiast access to a huge range of tools to manage their drives and how they’re split up and utilised. Using Mini Tool is fast and responsive; and very pleasing on the eye. While little may be offered over competing products by other companies in terms of features, look or usability, the existence of a free offering with most of the features unlocked; and the existence of Wizards and well-explained User Guides – available via links on the dialogue windows while using any feature – make it well worth considering if you do not already have a Partition Management software you’re satisfied with.

    In a future review, we will look closer into the features of MiniTool Partition Wizard that are not offered by the wizards; as well as look into the performance of creating, deleting and working with partitions; and give a verdict on the performance of each task.

    Mini Tool Partition Manager 9.0 Website