3 un-delete programs I’d actually use.

Not that I’d actually WANT to, but if I had to, it’ll be one of these four three.  And truth is, I would probably use several of these programs if I’ve really need to get the data back.

How I tested.
Well I deleted 19 photos from mistake from a USB stick, and wanted them back.  It started from there.  16 programs later, I had my photos back, and the idea for a couple of blog posts.

Recuva is damn good.  I would have selected it over DiskDigger, except that you need to install it.  Needed to use “deep scan” mode to recover all 19 photos.  I’d use this as my second choice if DiskDigger failed for me.

File Scavenger
File Scavenger 32
File Scavenger has two modes, Quick Mode, and Long Mode.  Quick Mode found 18 photos.  Long Mode found the 19th.  Quick Mode will preserve the original filenames.  Long Mode does not.
You need to install the program to use it.  You can Preview the files File Scavenger has found, before you actually recover them.
You need to purchase the program to actually recover your files.

Active@ Undelete
Active AT Undelete
If I had to really recover files, and the free programs didn’t work, Active@ Undelete would be the program I’d put money down for.  I found the scan to be very comprehensive.

Update 4th August 2010: Can no longer recommend DiskDigger

DiskDigger has a clean, easy to understand interface.  You don’t need to install this program onto your hard disk, which means you could run this from a USB stick.
Only downside?  It doesn’t detect what the original filenames were.  Not the only program to do that amongst the bunch I looked at. But heck, I’d still use it, as it’s free/donation ware.

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The “I’ve just deleted some photos ‘Oh Crap!'” moment

So, I deleted 19 photos off my USB stick that I shouldn’t have, it was one of those “oh crap!!!” moments.  As soon as I deleted the files, waahhhhhhhhhhhh.

Seemed like a good opportunity to check out the programs I have listed in 10 free programs to recover deleted files.   I’d be interested if you have any other recommendations.  Here are the results of 3 programs I tried with Windows XP:

Crashed on the scan of the USB stick, so I’d mark this as a fail.  Program was last updated in 2004, so no chances of any support there.
Restoration undelete program

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7, 8 & 13. Free, not-free and online backup solutions

A backup of your information is only good if it is stored in a separate place, such your office.  Or stored with a web Online Backup service.

Local Backup, aka You Store It

Cobian Backup
Comodo Backup
Karen’s Replicator
Microsoft SyncToy v2
SyncBack Freeware Edition

BounceBack Ultimate
EMC Replistor
FileBack PC
Second Copy
Super Flexible File Synchronizer

Online Backup aka they store it

Name Free service? Plans from Free trial? Paid for space Maximum Limit?
BackBlaze No $5 Yes Unlimited Unlimited
Carbonite No $54.95 (year) Yes Unlimited Unlimited
CrashPlan Yes $3.50 Unlimited
CrashPlan Pro No $350 Yes Unlimited
DropBox Yes, 2 GB $9.99 50 GB 100 GB
Egnyte No $162 (year) Yes 20 GB 20 GB
Gmail Sync Yes, Unlimited
iDrive Yes, 2GB $4.95 No 150 GB 500 GB
Iron Mountain No $8.95 Yes 2 GB 50 GB
Jungle Disk No $2 No 5 GB Unlimited
Live Mesh Yes, 5 GB
Mozy Yes, 2 GB $4.95 Unlimited Unlimited
SpiderOak Yes, 2GB $10 Unlimited Unlimited

Me?  I use SyncBackSE with a collection of Western Digital and Seagate external hard drives.

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Windows System State Analyzer – Windows 7

Windows Stsrem State Analyzer - summary of changesPeople familiar with Wise Package Studio “Setup Capture” can leave now.  Everyone else read on!.

Windows System State Analyser analyser allows you to take a “before” and “after” snapshot of your Windows 7 computer.  This is amazingly useful when you need to answer the question:

“What changes did that program I installed make to my computer?”

Of course, you do need to snapshot before you install the program you want to check on.

The quip about Wise Package Studio?

Application packagers, ie. people who create program install scripts, have been using the Setup Capture function for years.  They’ll typically do this to capture all the files that a program installs onto a computer, so they can re-package it into a better installer format.

You can read all about Windows System State Analyser here.

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24 Screen Capture Utilities

Since my last update in June, I find myself using the Microsoft Snipping Tool more often for those quick screen capture jobs.  But I am still using Printkey 2000 and Timesnapper.

Here are some others …


Name & download link Comments
Bug Shooting “Bug Shooting is a free screenshot utility that was developed for software testers who use bug tracking systems”
Cropper Capture "It offers a resizable, translucent capture area that can be moved and sized freely to capture the portions that you want to grab."
Gadwin PrintScreen  
Greenshot “Greenshot is a revolutionary screenshot tool optimized for productivity.”
HoverSnap “HoverSnap is a a free handy snapshot tool with jpg, png, bmp and gif support.HoverSnap can take snapshots of the full screen, active window or a selected area.”
Jing Recommended by Leo Laporte.
Lightscreen automates the capture of screenshots.
Microsoft Snipping Tool for XP Tablet For those times when you just want to “snip” part of a screen.
Microsoft Snipping Tool Vista It’s included!
MWsnap multi-language
PrintKey 2000 This is what I use.
See my previous blog post about it.
Screenshot Captor Donation-ware
Screen Hunter  

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11 programs to defragment your hard disk.

Back in February 2008, I wrote about what disk fragmenting was.  A reader then followed up with

“Well, what are my choices for a Windows disk defragmenter?”

Here is a list of some of the choices out there, if you don’t want to use the built-in Windows defragger.


Name Recommended Reviewed Comment
Auslogics Disk Defrag Yes 20 May 2009  
Defraggler Yes 11 March 2010  
JkDefrag Yes   A graphic front-end is available (JGDefragGUI)
Smart Defrag      

Not free

Name Recommended Reviewed Comment
Diskeeper Yes No Been around for years.  I first used it with Windows NT 4.
DiskTrix UltimateDefrag      
O&O Defrag Pro 11      
PerfectDisk Yes 8 February 2008 I have used this on work computers, and I’m very happy with it.
Puran Defrag      
Vopt Yes   Very popular with the folks over at Whirlpool.

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“Is there any way to schedule a task based on a system event?”

… such as an event written to the System Log, or a laptop losing mains power?

Windows Vista, or later?
Yes, indeedy.  Task Scheduler has this functionally built right in.

Windows 2000/XP?
But you could write a program to do that.

Something like this little Visual Basic 2005 program, for the “laptop losing mains power” example:

“Power Status” demonstrates two techniques:

  1. How to get the state of the installed battery, without resorting to calling an API such as GetSystemPowerStatus.
    We do this by using the PowerStatus class which first appeared in .Net v2.0
  2. How to detect a change from Battery power to Mains power, by capturing the PBT_APMPOWERSTATUSCHANGE event.
    By overriding the default WindowProc function, so we can check the Windows Events being sent to us by the operating system.
    When we see the PBT_APMPOWERSTATUSCHANGE event, we update the PowerStatus values and then refresh the screen.

Overriding the default WindowsProc seems very difficult to do, though it’s not.  But it only took 10 minutes of coding.  And it worked first time.

Finding the PowerStatus class, and processing the values, wasted about four hours of code experimentation.
And it still needs work.

Particularly BatteryChargeStatus.

BatteryChargeStatus is returning “undocumented” values in the 9 –> 127 range.
What I suspect is that the battery charger has two modes, Fast charge and Trickle charge.  Which is being reported.  As it’s not documented by Microsoft, I’m not sure.

The sample program is here.
The source code is here.

Game booster – improving Windows performance for gaming.

I’m not a ““Gamer””, but I think this would be a really useful little program for when you want to extract more “grunt” from your Windows PC.  For gaming, or whatever else.

Game Booster.  Better Play Experience!  Designed to help optimize your PC for smoother, more responsive game play in the latest PC games with the touch of a button, Game Booster helps achieve the performance edge previously only available to highly technical enthusiasts. It works by temporarily shutting down background processes, cleaning RAM, and intensifying processor performance. That means you can keep all the features of Microsoft® Windows Vista® and XP® ready for when you need them, but turn them off when you are ready to get down to serious business – gaming. Game Booster makes it simpler to enjoy the latest games and take your experience to a new level. All systems go!

“… Designed to help optimize your PC for smoother, more responsive game play in the latest PC games with the touch of a button, Game Booster helps achieve the performance edge previously only available to highly technical enthusiasts. It works by temporarily shutting down background processes, cleaning RAM, and intensifying processor performance.”

You can download it here: Game Booster by IOBit.com

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Patching off-network PCs with AutoPatcher

remote sites cd -v49 One of the cleverest guys I’ve ever worked with, came up with a idea to provide patch updates on compact disc.
It allowed our home office users to pickup a disc from us, and apply the updates on their home PCs.  This was before the wide spread use of broadband internet, and Windows Update.

It was called “Remote Sites CD”.  A picture of it’s main screen is on the right.

As you can see, it had four options

  1. Install security patches
  2. Install an anti-virus product
  3. Install an anti-virus update
  4. Remove CA Unicenter product (RRS)

Option 4 was a popular option.  You’d understand if you ever used the CA Unicenter suite of programs.

But today, lets talk about option 1, installing security patches.

If you had a copy of Remote Sites CD, it would make your live really simple.  But I can’t share a copy of the “Remote Sites CD” with you because

  1. it’s proprietary, and
  2. I don’t have a copy anymore.

But there is a freeware alternative which looks impressive.


Much like “Remote Sites CD”, Autopatcher allows you to download a set of patches once, and apply them to multiple PCs.  Typically PCs which don’t have a network connection.  Or a slow network link.

I ran it up on a Windows 2000 SP4 machine I have here.

First, before the patch count:
Windows Update Before Autopatcher - 59 High Priority
(59 High Priority)

After running AutoPatcher:
Windows Update After Autopatcher
(8 High Priority)

“Why is there still 8 to go???”, I hear you ask.

Essentially this months security patches, and some non-security patches (Internet Explorer 6 SP1).

What do you need to do to run AutoPatcher:

  1. Download it.
  2. Select the patches you want to download (via apup.exe)
    selecting downloads with apup
    Apup will download the files
    apup downloading patches
  3. Burn AutoPatcher to DVD
    I ran it from a network share, and it seemed to work just as well.
  4. Run AutoPatcher.exe.
    You be asked want you want to install.
    autopatcher - eula autopatcher - verifying patchesautopatcher - installing
  5. Reboot at the end, and you’re all done!
    autopatcher - finished

You can download AutoPatcher here.

If you are just updating Windows XP clients, PatchMate XP might be an alternative. (Sept. 2009: site permanently down)

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Counting lines of VB6 code.

VB6 Pure Lines CalculatorWas asked to analyse a library of Visual Basic 6 to determine the effort required to migrate it Visual Basic 2005/2008.

The good news was that most of the VB6 programs share common modules, so it will just be a case of fixing those modules once, then compiling and testing.

The bad news is that, yes, indeedly, the past is another country, they did things differently there; the code isn’t widely documented, and not what you’d call best practice these days.

An example is the use of the RtlCopyMemory function, which now is “banned” by Microsoft as it’s not secure.

Anyhow, to count the lines of VB6 code we have, I used a free utility called VB 6 Pure Code Lines Calculator, and I found it to be fast and accurate.

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