PhotoRec | Data Recovery


PhotRec is a free portable data recovery utility. It can be used to recover files including video, pictures or photos (hence the name), documents and archived files from hard disks, removable storage devices and even CDs. the software can recognize the header formats of supported file types and works even if the filesystem on the drive is severely damaged or has been reformatted.

About PhotoRec with TestDisk


The stand alone utility also ships with the TestDisk free data recovery tool which can also be used to recover lost partitions and make non-booting disks bootable again.


PhotoRec is part of the TestDisk suite, an open source software developed by Christophe Grenier. While TestDisk focuses on recovering lost partitions and making non-booting disks bootable again, PhotoRec is specialized in file recovery from damaged or corrupted storage media. It bypasses the filesystem, working directly at the disk level to recover files even if the filesystem is severely damaged or reformatted.

Features include:

  1. Wide File Format Support:
    • File Recovery: Supports recovery of a vast array of file formats, including JPEG, PNG, PDF, DOC, HTML, ZIP, and many more.
    • Customizable File Signatures: Users can add custom file signatures for specific file types they wish to recover.
  2. Multiplatform Compatibility:
    • Cross-Platform: Available for various operating systems, including Windows, macOS, Linux, FreeBSD, NetBSD, OpenBSD, and SunOS.
  3. Device Support:
    • Versatile Recovery: Can recover data from various storage media, such as hard drives, USB flash drives, memory cards, CD-ROMs, and digital camera memory.
  4. Filesystem Independence:
    • Filesystem Agnostic: Works independently of the filesystem, allowing recovery even from corrupted or reformatted filesystems. Supports FAT, NTFS, exFAT, ext2/ext3/ext4, HFS+, and other filesystems.
  5. Safe Recovery Process:
    • Read-Only Operation: Ensures that the recovery process does not write to the damaged disk, preventing further data loss.
    • Clone Handling: Can create and work with disk images, allowing users to recover data from clones rather than the original, potentially damaged media.
  6. Command-Line Interface:
    • User Control: While it has a text-based interface, it offers detailed control over the recovery process for advanced users.
    • Step-by-Step Guidance: Provides step-by-step instructions to guide users through the recovery process.
  7. Localization:
    • Multiple Languages: Available in several languages, making it accessible to a wide range of users globally.

How to Use PhotoRec

  1. Download and Install: Download PhotoRec from the official website listed below. Extract to a desired location.
  2. Launch PhotoRec: Open a command prompt or terminal window. Navigate to the directory where it is located and run the executable (e.g., photorec_win.exe on Windows).
  3. Select the Disk: Choose the disk or partition from which you want to recover files. Select the type of partition table (usually detected automatically).
  4. Specify Recovery Options: Choose the filesystem type (if known) or let it search the entire disk. Specify the file types you want to recover or accept the default settings.
  5. Choose the Destination: Select a directory on a different disk to save the recovered files to avoid overwriting lost data.
  6. Start Recovery: Begin the recovery process and wait for the software to scan and recover files. Review the recovered files in the specified destination directory.

This is an excellent free tool to use for data recovery, especially useful in cases of severe filesystem corruption or accidental formatting.

PhotoRec Specifications and Download

  • Authors Website: CGSecurity
  • Developer: Christophe Grenier
  • Extracted Size: Requires roughly 5.71MB for portable stand alone USB installation.
  • License: Open Source
  • Supported OS: Windows
  • Downloading: You can grab this free portable picture recovery software here:
    Photorec Download

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