Why Spinrite is not on my Data Recovery Software List.
December 14, 2010
Spinrite is not data recovery software.
I get many questions about why I left off Spinrite on my recommendations of recovery software. I specifically leave off Spinrite because under the strictest terms it is not data recovery software. Almost every single data recovery package knows, and will warn you not to write the data back to the original source drive. Data Recovery/Forensics software almost always recover from a source to a destination. Spinrite does not do that, it refreshes the surface and controls reads to get the maximum amount of data from the sectors and then puts it back down on the same drive.
I think it does quite a few things very well and it does an excellent job at reporting and reading the SMART info and refreshing the surface of the hard drive. However, I would like to first try to get the data from the drive before scanning it and trying to rebuild sectors. There are many reasons for this, but the most important one being that the drive can die in the process of running Spinrite. It is possible to do more damage to the drive by doing excessive read and writes. There are times that you only get once good chance at data and if you use a tool that just goes in and surgically removes the data you want BEFORE doing the scan you will be a lot safer.
If I was going to use Spinrite, I would get everything I could off the drive to another destination first and then use Spinrite to try to get anything I could not repair (although I never have to with the tools I use). Another horrific story I have seen with drives sent to me, is that if Spinrite it runs successfully, people are under the impression that the drive is repaired and is usable again and continue to use it. Big mistake and it usually dies again shortly. On a Windows Hard Drive I would try NTFSExplorer/FatExplorer first in the hopes of doing a surgical recovery as oppose to spending days rewriting sectors in the hopes that my drive can live though it as Spinrite does. But for $80 it is well worth the attempt if you are going to do nothing else. Good Luck.