FAT32 file recovery? Why would I need that? Ninety nine point nine percent of all file systems that reside on XP and Vista are NTFS 5. Why in the world would someone take the time and effort to develop a free piece of software to recover files from FAT32. I can think of three reasons.
The first reason would be this. Have you ever bought an external USB drive? You know, Maxtor One Touch, Seagate Free Agent, and the like. These drives more often than not are formatted FAT32. The reason they are formatted in this manner is that, Microsoft Windows, Linux, and Macintosh will read and write to FAT32 drives. In other words, as smart marketing geniuses formatting in FAT32 opens up the market.
Secondly, flash drives for your cameras have gotten much larger. They used to be formatted in FAT12, or FAT16, however the size of the flash card has exceeded the maximum cluster size that these file systems will address. For instance FAT16, will only access four gigabytes.
The final reason consists of file recovery technology. The very first piece of data recovery software I ever wrote was for FAT12, and FAT16. FAT32 did not exist. Data storage was at a high cost and a 30 MB hard drive would cost as much as $1000.00. Since this was the arena we had to work in, data recovery had to be performed ‘on-disk’. In other words, you did not go out and buy storage to retrieve your deleted files to. Data recovery software had to be done in place on the file system that was damaged, without destroying the data on the drive. A pretty neat trick. I was one of the pioneers of this technology. The ability to fix a file system without destroying the in place file system, as well as the data.
As storage became cheaper, a new technology was developed. Reading a damaged file system and moving the data to a different medium became popular, and still is to this day. This technology is infinitely easier to develop for, and has the illusion of safety. However, there are still many end users who will copy files back to the original drive. They will download a piece of software onto the damaged file system and run it from that same file system. These things defeat the purpose of moving your data off of the offending file system and onto a clean file system.
In a perfect world a piece of data recovery software would have its own operating system, run from CD, and have the capability to examine any file system regardless of type. It would be able to repair the file system in place, never touching the existing file system. Nirvana. I didn’t write this kind of software, but the offering I do have may be interesting.
Free FAT32 Undelete pretty much says it all. If you have a FAT32 file system, that is intact, but you deleted some files and want them back, then this free piece of software may be for you. The software may be placed on a floppy or CD as it is only 56 K. It must be run under Windows NT type operating system, but it does not have to be run from the drive where the files have been deleted. You can download the free FAT 32 data recovery software by going to our USB External Hard Drive Data Recovery page.