Recuva – Excellent Deleted File Recovery Tool for Windows

So I’m a dumbass and in the process of attempting to make a 1:1 copy of every file on a full 2 TB hard drive, actually managed to delete them all before I realized what I was doing (did I mention I’m a dumbass sometime). Fortunately once I realized there were no longer any files on my drive, I did stop everything immediately so no data would overwrite the actual file data. Then I started looking for recovery options.

I finally settled on Piriform’s Recuva recovery software which had a number of things going for it.

First, it’s free. And not free as in “it’s free for the first 50 gb of files and after that you’ll need to pay us” but free as in I was able to recover every single deleted file on my hard drive without paying free. Even the Professional version is dirt cheap at just $24.95. That compares well to the $80 its nearest competitor wanted.

Second, it worked very well. When I realized my files had been deleted I did a few Google searches on reviews of data recovery software and quite a few roundups of such software rated Recuva as the best for recovering deleted files. A quick test showed why that was the case. Recuva quickly analyzed my hard drive and gave me an exhaustive list of all the deleted files on the drive, whether they were recoverable, etc.

It took me just a few minutes using some advanced filters to tell Recuva exactly what I wanted recovered, where I wanted the files to be written to, and I was on my way. Many hours later I had recovered all of the deleted files in their original directory structure, after which I made a Success Kid fist and cheered.

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Fences for Windows

Stardock - Fences Screenshot

Fences is a Desktop-organizing tool for Windows whose main drawback is that is published by Stardock (yes, that Stardock).

But if you can get past that, Fences adds a couple of helpful additions to the Windows desktop for just $9.99.

Fences adds a multi-page Desktop setup to Windows. Grab the edge of the screen with your mouse and drag to the left or right, and you’re onto the next screen.

Lots of utilities do similar things, but Fences lets you define scrolling windows on top of the desktop that hold icons for programs and documents. So you can have a window called “Video Editing” and put shortcuts to all of your video editing software, or create a “Super Secret Project” window and put shortcuts to all the relevant documents in there.

All interesting and helpful stuff, but I never would have paid the $9.99 for Fences if it weren’t for the final feature which, after I used it, I couldn’t believe wasn’t already a feature in Windows.

With Fences running, and the option selected, you can double-click on any blank space on the Desktop and all the icons disappear. Double-click again and they reappear.

I know it’s a fairly minor feature, but I can’t help it–I absolutely love it. It just has that “this is how the Desktop should have always worked” ¬†feel to it.

Locking a Windows Laptop on Lid Close

Like many people I’m a Windows user not because I have any particular love for Microsoft’s OS, but rather because it is the best OS overall for what I need to do on a day-to-day basis. Given the resources Microsoft has to throw at Windows development, however, it is amazing how much you can’t do in Windows.

For example, here’s a pretty straightforward thing I’d like to do in Windows — I’d like to set it up so that when I close the lid on my laptop, Windows automatically locks itself. Based on a couple Google searches a lot of people would like to be able to do this.

And yet, as of 2012, there is no version of Windows in which this can be done. Microsoft will let you put a laptop to sleep automatically when you close the lid, and you can always hit the Windows key+L to lock the computer, but there’s no way to configure Windows to lock automatically when the laptop lid is closed.

That, my friends, is f***ing stupid. I did find a couple of people who had created programs that intercepted the lid state and would automatically lock the lid when closed, but none of these were currently available (the website of the most popular utility for doing this was hijacked by hackers a couple years ago and is still compromised).

So if you know of a decent utility for automatically locking a Windows laptop when the lid closes, I’d be glad to hear it. Or maybe Microsoft could actually follow up on a simple, obvious feature that many of its users have requested. Just don’t hold your breath on that.

BounceBack Backup for Windows

BounceBack is backup software for Windows machines. I use other software for backing up important data, but I also want to backup my individual machine so when the hard drive in my laptop eventually fails I can minimize downtime.

BounceBack will create an image of your hard drive on an external drive, so if your hard drive dies or suffers other problems, you should be able to boot off of the external drive without losing anything. The software supports continuous backups, “timed version” backups like Apple’s Time Machine does, AES 256-bit encryption, etc.

A very nice toolset when what you really need is a rolling backup of everything on a particular machine.

Bandwidth Monitor for Windows

For a personal project, I needed a program that would track daily bandwidth utilization on a few Windows laptops I use. So far, Bandwidth Monitor seems to be the best choice with one caveat — it does cost $19.95 to register after the 30 day trial period.

There are freeware bandwidth monitors for Windows available and I tried a few of them, but they tended to be wildly inaccurate in their reporting of bandwidth usage.