There you are, riding along on your day, buzzing and happily working on your project. Everything is dandy and then it hits, from one moment to the other the world goes under and chaos takes over.

This can be in the form of a power outage at the wrong moment, like… just while writing something to disk; or the stupidity of not making a backup in the first place and deleting an important file. Or even encounter such a dumb situation as to having a secondary backup on a disk image and then not only putting it into the trash can but even emptying the trash can – only to find out that the original backup is corrupt and to realize that 150 gigabyte of data was gone. Ouch. That was before Time Machine of course.

What do you do in such a situation? I clearly had serious thoughts of leaving my husband and my cats and of getting out of the business and to go back to cow milking on some hidden Swiss alp. Once I had gotten over the first shock I began hunting down the perfect recovery application.

There are some interesting choices around, some of “pay the price per megabyte recovered” but you haven’t a clue if the recovered data will be anything useful. Others would find different types of files, like images or bookmarks and then toss all found of one type into a folder, if possible with completely scrambled file names. Try getting organization into THAT for several gigabytes of data, when ALL folder hierarchy has been trashed. No go, no go. No use at all.

The application I found which saved me from rolling up into a ball and to give up was from Stellar Phoenix. It was the ONLY application that was able to find the deleted disk image! And not only to find it but to be able to figure out the folder structure and to retaining this when recovering. As my disk image when expanded was larger than 2 gigabyte I ran into some additional (Mac) problems but I received exceptional support from that company, including a long distance phone call and in the end I was probably able to recover 4/5 of the original data. You can read more on the original stupidity and following recovery on my personal blog – more than a year later it does seem all pretty funny.

The other odd recovery situation I encountered was that some five HTML files got by accident deleted with no backups. I knew that they still were in some cache file and the browser had not been closed down yet, but I needed to get to those cached files and was not able to find the correct one on my drive but knew it was there. The application I found here which came to my rescue was File Juicer which as one of its features allows you to extract images and HTML files from Safari cache. As my current cache was really big I let the application run over night and was truly impressed with the outcome.

I am sure there are other gems out there. Let me know what has worked for you!