PhotoRec Step By Step
This Recovery example guides you through PhotoRec step by step to recover deleted files or lost data from a reformatted partition or corrupted file system. For lost/deleted partitions or deleted files from a FAT or NTFS file system, try TestDisk first - it's usually faster and TestDisk can retrieved the original file names. Translations of this PhotoRec manual to other languages are welcome.
Run PhotoRec executable
If PhotoRec is not yet installed, it can be downloaded from TestDisk Download. Extract the files from the archive including the sub-directories.
To recover files from hard disk, USB key, Smart Card, CD-ROM, DVD, etc., you need enough rights to access the physical device.
- Under DOS, run
- Under Windows, start PhotoRec (ie
testdisk-6.13/photorec_win.exe) from an account in the Administrator group. Under Windows Vista or later, right click photorec_win.exe and then click
Run as administratorto launch PhotoRec.
- Under Unix/Linux/BSD, you need to be root to run PhotoRec (ie.
- Under Mac OS X, start PhotoRec (ie
testdisk-6.13/photorec). If you are not root, PhotoRec will restart itself using sudo after a confirmation on your part. Sudo will ask for a password - enter your Mac OS X user password.
- Under OS/2, PhotoRec doesn't handle physical devices, only disk images. Sorry.
To recover files from a media image, run
photorec image.ddto carve a raw disk image
photorec image.E01to recover files from an Encase EWF image
photorec 'image.???'if the Encase image is split into several files.
photorec '/cygdrive/d/evidence/image.???'if the Encase image is split into several files in the directory d:\evidence
Most devices should be autodetected including Linux software RAID (that is,
/dev/md0) and file system encrypted with cryptsetup, dm-crypt, LUKS or TrueCrypt (ie.
/dev/mapper/truecrypt0). To recover files from other devices, run
Forensics users can use the parameter
/log to create a log file named
photorec.log; it records the location of the files recovered by PhotoRec.
Available media are listed. Use up/down arrow keys to select the disk that holds the lost files.
Enter to proceed.
If available, use the raw device,
/dev/rdisk* instead of
/dev/disk* for faster data transfer.
Source partition selection
Searchafter selecting the partition that holds the lost files to start the recovery,
Optionsto modify the options,
File Optto modify the list of file types recovered by PhotoRec.
ParanoidBy default, recovered files are verified and invalid files rejected.
bruteforce if you want to recover more fragmented JPEG files, note it is a very CPU intensive operation.
Allow partial last cylindermodifies how the disk geometry is determined - only non-partitioned media should be affected.
expert modeoption allows the user to force the file system block size and the offset. Each filesystem has his own block size (a multiple of the sector size) and offset (0 for NTFS, exFAT, ext2/3/4), these value are fixed when the filesystem has been created/formated. When working on the whole disk (ie. original partitions are lost) or a reformated partition, if PhotoRec has found very few files, you may want to try the minimal value that PhotoRec let you select (it's the sector size) for the block size (0 will be used for the offset).
Keep corrupted filesto keep files even if they are invalid in the hope that data may still be salvaged from an invalid file using other tools.
Low memoryif your system does not have enough memory and crashes during recovery. It may be needed for large file systems that are heavily fragmented. Do not use this option unless absolutely necessary.
Selection of files to recover
FileOpts, enable or disable the recovery of certain file types, for example,
[X] riff RIFF audio/video: wav, cdr, avi ... [X] tif Tag Image File Format and some raw file formats (pef/nef/dcr/sr2/cr2) ... [X] zip zip archive including OpenOffice and MSOffice 2007
The whole list of file formats recovered by PhotoRec contains more than 320 file families representing more than 200 file extensions.
File system type
Once a partition has been selected and validated with
Search, PhotoRec needs to know how the data blocks are allocated.
Unless it is an ext2/ext3/ext4 filesystem, choose
Carve the partition or unallocated space only
PhotoRec can search files from
- from the whole partition (useful if the filesystem is corrupted) or
- from the unallocated space only (available for ext2/ext3/ext4, FAT12/FAT16/FAT32 and NTFS). With this option only deleted files are recovered.
Select where recovered files should be written
Choose the directory where the recovered files should be written.
- To get the drive list (C:, D:, E:, etc.), use the arrow keys to select
.., press the
Enterkey - repeat until you can select the drive of your choice. Validate with
Yes when you get the expected destination.
- File system from external disk may be available in a
/run/mediasub-directory. Mount your destination drive if necessary.
- Partitions from external disk are usually mounted in
Recovery in progress
Number of recovered files is updated in real time.
- During pass 0, PhotoRec searches the first 10 files to determine the blocksize.
- During pass 1 and later, files are recovered including some fragmented files.
Recovered files are written in recup_dir.1, recup_dir.2... sub-directories. It's possible to access the files even if the recovery is not finished.
Recovery is completed
When the recovery is complete, a summary is displayed. Note that if you interrupt the recovery, the next time PhotoRec is restarted you will be asked to resume the recovery.
- Thumbnails found inside pictures are saved as
- If you have chosen to keep corrupted files/file fragments, their filenames will beginning by the letter
- Hint: When looking for a specific file. Sort your recovered files by extension and/or date/time. PhotoRec uses time information (metadata) when available in the file header to set the file modification time
- After Using PhotoRec: Some ideas to sort recovered files or repair broken ones.
- You may have disabled your live antivirus protection during the recovery to speed up the process, but it's recommended to scan the recovered files for viruses before opening them - PhotoRec may have undeleted an infected document or a trojan.