by FrostApps team on 2010-05-07 13:17:15
Version reviewed: FileRestore for Networks 3.1
Unfortunately, whether you're prepared or not, it happens all the time. The fact is we've all been there and at some point in our lives lost or accidentally deleted an important file. The best-case scenario is not to get caught unprepared, alluding to any kind of backup solution, however if the worse happens, face it but do not despair since the file is not gone for good in most cases.
Primarily intended as a recovery solution for Windows platforms, FileRestore for Networks can recover data from any PC or Server under Windows operating system, the local or wide area network, remote PC, as well as from all types of USB devices including memory sticks, pen drives, iPods, PSPs, Zune, cameras and camera cards, virtual drives etc. The list of supported devices is pretty impressive! Basically it was designed to extract lost file/s from almost anywhere no matter what it takes. Sounds good in theory, however the reality is what is important by all means.
Once installed the program prompts you whether you want it to start restoration process and allows you to pick the appropriate approach depending on the location where the file was last seen. There are two approaches available, Network Mode - Enterprise recovery which is set to connect to remote and network systems and Local Recovery mode which stands for recovery from local HDD and secure drive imaging. Anyway, whichever mode you choose, FileRestore for Networks Wizard walks you step by step through the whole process with a few dialog boxes which are more than understandable. Lastly you are prompted to choose between file recovery or Drive Image mode and that's it, you are ready to go. Just to bring it up, even if we think everyone should know this, if you want to work with remote PC/network first thing you need to do is to connect to remote source by entering IP address while having FileRestore for Networks client instaled on it at the same time.
Now let's start with "File recovery" mode. File recovery mode scans selected drives in order to find and recover previously lost files. There are three modes of scan: fast, advanced and complete scan, however more experienced users are not forgotten here since it is possible to manually set the whole set of options for scanning. Each option determines how thoroughly you want to scan desired HDD. If you just want to scratch the surface, if there is no need for deeper scan fast mode is enough, otherwise advanced and complete scan can save the day. For instance, we did all three scans, excluding manual mode, just to see if there and what are the differences between them.
During our tests fast scan proved to be quite, well, fast. Everything went smooth and program showed no tendency to hang. On the other hand, while we were testing an advanced and complete scans(30 GB) we were surprised by the slowness and the fact we were absolutely unable to do anything else on our machine. The ability to filter data is supported but it does not change a thing. We are really confused here since filtering usually means narrowing search areas, focusing only on certain information and automatically faster scanning. Here that is not an issue, even if we set only gif files to be scanned, program behaved very strange, it scanned all files and there was no improvements in speed compared to previous scan. Ok, we agree that the filtering after scanning is a good thing, among thousands of files you can list only certain extension, however if you set whatever filter before scanning it should search only filtered files. Simply put we really don't see any point of filter existence in this form when it actually does nothing to speed up the process.
Regardless of the speed and the whole filter thing a few other details in functionality have gained our attention. We think it is a bit strange because FileRestore for Networks is not designed to handle multiple partitions at once. Basically if your HDD is divided onto several parts you'll need to scan them one by one. Really, it's not a big deal, it's more like observation and while we would like to see such an option present someone may not want to, therefore, it up to developer whether the feature will be implemented in the future. On the other hand we cannot neglect the fact that it lacks the feature to scan specified folders. We would like to see such an option especially because we know how this can be useful and speed up the whole search process.
During the testing process, we applied the two commonly used approaches to delete files just to see how and whether it will find those intentionally deleted files. We chose 70KB gif image which we deleted first with shift + delete and then using the Recycle Bin. With first approach there was no room for error, everything ended fast, smooth and program has found a file immediately after its deletion. On the other hand deleting using the Recycle Bin we bumped into the wall. Meaning, the program was repeatedly unable to find deleted file no matter how hard we pushed. Now the scan results are nicely displayed, divided onto two parts in the main window, for each one of them you can see a detailed info on the right part while on the left you can see file types or folder tree view. Nevertheless, all those details about a particular file are more helpful then confusing, easy to read and in this area FileRestore for Networks does not lack functionality whatsoever. The following are details about the file: File Name, File Type, Condition, Folder(Path), Status, Size, Modified, Creation Date and Accessed Date.
Since this is a Demo version only, we were not fully able to test the application because the recover option is locked. At first glance we were disappointed, and further working with it did not change that fact we did not test its main feature. If we cannot test main feature what's the point of our review. This is a huge drawback, it cannot be compensated with anything that this tool has to offer and the fact you are forced to pay to unlock it without prior testing made us realize this is most likely developer's lame attempt to manipulate users. We believe that we should be allowed to restore for example two images or two documents just to see the quality and speed of the entire process. This way of promoting your program, by disabling its main function in demo version, can only discourage potential buyers from even trying it out.
Now concerning looks, everything looks basic, as some residual skin from some of the previous version. There are no shiny buttons or fancy hovers, wherever you look, only a sense of the past and the era of Windows XP. FileRestore for Networks really needs a little more face lifting.
Overall, our impression is halfway completed for obvious reason, therefore we can only say this is a simple yet to the point made tool, it's intent is clear but a few drawbacks cast a shadow over everything good in this tool. We cannot come to terms with the fact you are in total "dark" here, forced to pay without any proof it actually serves the purpose and mostly because of that and other lacks of functionality FileRestore for Networks does not deserve our recommendation.