TestDisk & PhotoRec

Allow me to present you with a few scenarios, all of which recently happened.

    A friend intended to boot his Windows partition, in order to update a laptop BIOS. By mistake he picked the “recovery” partition, easily done when GRUB’s OS prober can’t tell them apart. Without warning, it erases his GNU/Linux partition, leaving him stranded without a functioning bootloader (it couldn’t be bothered to install a functioning MBR while overwriting that sector). Luckily, he has a bootable USB memory, but all the data he cares about is in the lost partition.

    Another friend is presented with a freshly erased memory card off a camera, from which photos need to be recovered.

    I wanted to extract the music from a Playstation Portable game I own.

This is exactly what the two tools TestDisk and PhotoRec help with. The first finds lost file systems, and the second finds lost files. Both are incredibly easy to use and should be in your disaster recovery arsenal. They work, in many situations (don’t be fooled by “Photo” in the name), and are quite free. This is why I cared not one iota when my Lexar memory card didn’t come with the promised Image Rescue software.


My question on camera selection, for the moment, has one answer. Unfortunately I can’t afford it, and it still needs a lot of work. The Frankencamera project now supports one consumer available hardware platform, the Nokia N900. There’s lots going against it, too, such as really slow switching between live preview and high-resolution photo capture, but they are things I could work on – if I had anything it worked with. I might look at using it with UVC, but it won’t be nearly as useful as the raw sensor access it has in the N900.