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Find lost files with Scalpel

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Red Hat
Software
HowTos

As a system administrator, part of your responsibility is to help users manage their data. One of the vital aspects of doing that is to ensure your organization has a good backup plan, and that your users either make their backups regularly, or else don’t have to because you’ve automated the process.

However, sometimes the worst happens. A file gets deleted by mistake, a filesystem becomes corrupt, or a partition gets lost, and for whatever reason, the backups don’t contain what you need.

As we discussed in How to prevent and recover from accidental file deletion in Linux, before trying to recover lost data, you must find out why the data is missing in the first place. It’s possible that a user has simply misplaced the file, or that there is a backup that the user isn’t aware of. But if a user has indeed removed a file with no backups, then you know you need to recover a deleted file. If a partition table has become scrambled, though, then the files aren’t really lost at all, and you might want to consider using TestDisk to recover the partition table, or the partition itself.

What happens if your file or partition recovery isn’t successful, or is only in part? Then it’s time for Scalpel. Scalpel performs file carving operations based on patterns describing unique file types. It looks for these patterns based on binary strings and regular expressions, and then extracts the file accordingly.

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