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I used Recoverit to find deleted files from my external hard drive. The scan/recover step identified what looked like 85,215 photo duplicates. That is, file types jpg/nef/xmp which had a prefix of "_1." to the file name.

There was no way that I was going to manually review the complete duplicate-potential list. However, in my review of some 30 duplicates, they were all validly identified as duplicates. I did not view the Exif info, particularly the date/time stamp of the photos. I then deleted all the "_1." files.

I then used my Photoshop Elements Organizer 15 to Restore the whole catalogue. It looks like I'm still missing at least 2 (most recent) years of photos.

So my thinking is that my assumption on Recoverit's output of "_1." files was incorrect. ie. Recoverit did not look at Exif info? What I really need is a tool to take Recoverit's potential photo duplicates, and pare it down by only comparing the EXIF date/time stamp?

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This is not a direct answer but it may be helpful none the less.

I would like to suggest using better software to recover the files with in the first place. Basically file recovery software has two main strategies to recover files:

  • File system based: The tool scans the drive for file system structures that point to files. Using the data it is possible to virtually reconstruct the folder structure complete with filenames and attributes.

  • Raw scan: Detect files based on signature. For example, all JPEG files start with byte pair FF D8. The software may assume it detected the start of a JPEG file is these bytes are detected at a cluster boundary, however it has no way of knowing additional attributes such as the filename so a generic name is auto generated.

If file system structures are largely intact and actual file contents have not been overwritten potentially each recoverable file is detected twice as many tools use both methods. In addition to this several copies of a file may exist even if it only occurs once in the file system, let's call them 'stale files', and these are typically picked up by the raw scanner. So these will result in more automatically generated filenames.

Problem with the files with automatically generated filenames is that they are so hard to identify without opening and viewing them.

Also, often people tend to recover everything, better be safe than sorry.

Now my stance is that a good tool, if it is able to virtually reconstruct the file system, and good tools often are unlike less good tools, makes it unnecessary to recover results of the raw scan.

Also, many good tools, I'll mention ReclaiMe and R-Studio, have a mechanism in place that recognizes files that are recovered both by the file system scan and the raw scan. And, if they detect this they keep result of file system scan and remove result of the raw scan eliminating a duplicate.

None of the generic file recovery tools I know of use EXIF data BTW unless they're dedicated raw scanners: For dedicated raw scanners, often geared towards media files such as photos and videos, it's the only way to extract more specific data about the detected files. Also it's typically such files that have an EXIF section as part of their file design.

If you're missing two years worth of photos then question would be, what happened to the drive in the first place, IOW how did you lose the files? Also what was the original file system?: Some file system are easier reconstructed than others so file system based recovery is more likely. While with others raw recovery is all one can expect.

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