Selkie Data Rescue

Reviewed by: Howard Carson, January 2007
Published by: Tugboat Enterprises
Requires: Selkie requires a CD or DVD burner and works with desktop and laptop Windows PCs running Windows desktop, media center, laptop, and server versions from Windows 95 though Vista
MSRP: US$99.99

(Ed. Note: Selkie Data Rescue used to be called Lifeboat Data Rescue. The software was renamed Selkie Data Rescue in December 2006. Read our review of Lifeboat v1)

Sooner or later, Windows will crash or lockup. The operating system is many, many times better than it used to be, but it also now carries the burden of a thousand new loads brought on by spyware, bad software installations, dumb user errors, and hardware driver problems among a long list of other potential problems. That any of this stuff works properly for as long and consistently as it does right now, is totally mystifying. In any case, disaster always seems to strike at the worst and most unexpected of times, right when you are most vulnerable. The computer won't boot, or boots poorly, leaving you staring at a really unstable situation and wondering if your current project (photo editing, spreadsheet, Word document, family video, etc.) and all the other files and data on the computer are still there. It's a creepy feeling. When this happened, it used to be that you'd have to take your entire computer to a technician and let him fiddle around with it for a week or two before recovering only a few of the files you needed and charging a lot of money for the effort. Times have changed. Selkie Data Rescue is an easy to use software utility which can rescue or recover files and data when Windows won't cooperate.


Selkie Data Rescue is a lot like its predecessor. The biggest difference is that the software is now much easier to setup and configure. Selkie runs from a boot CD, so the first thing you do after downloading is run the installater which walks you through the process. If you have even a vaguely decent CD burner, the entire Selkie boot CD creation process literally takes only a few minutes and the guidance provided by the installer is mercifully straightforward and easy to understand. With the boot CD in hand, there's little else to do except wait for Windows to fail or a video card driver to become corrupt or a registry hack to render a PC unbootable or one of a thousand other things that can help to kill a Windows installation. Note that Selkie uses no video resources aside from the basic 16-color VGA interface built into every PC motherboard, so even if your video card is dying, Selkie will still work.

The concept behind Selkie's rescue system is innovative and definitely unique to the data rescue software category. In order for Selkie to work, you must start the sick PC with the Selkie boot CD. Selkie will run the computer through a start up sequence, then pause at a welcome screen. This is where the clever Lifeboat developers exhibit their prowess. The sick computer must be networked with a working computer. If you know very little about networking, and are currently not connected to a network that’s okay too. Selkie runs in two modes, basic and advanced. In basic mode, it will walk you through the setup of a network. Once the network has been established, Selkie will tell you to leave the sick computer running and go to the other working computer and run Network Neighborhood from My Computer. From there you will be able to access and retrieve files from the ailing computer. Tugboat enterprises refers to the technique the program employs as a "bootable CD-based file server" which basically just means that you use it to bypass a crashed operating system to get to your files and copy them securely to another PC.

The best protection against data loss caused by a failed PC is a rigorous backup plan. Even so, a backup done two days ago can't help you when Windows fails today, preventing you from getting at all of the files you created in the intervening time. Selkie recovers any and all files which remain on bootable hard drives including digital media (photos and videos), documents (spreadsheets, word processor and text editor files) and anything else you can think of. As long as the Selkie boot CD can be used to start the PC, its file selector can then be used to locate and safely copy your files and data across a network connection to a working PC.

Since our original review of Lifeboat v1, we've had the opportunity to act as advisors to Tugboat Enterprises—a great opportunity for us. We now know a lot of the technical details behind Selkie's method of accessing unbootable hard drives. Although it's quite elegant and very secure, the proof (as they say) is in the pudding. Selkie Data Rescue recovers files and data quite easily from sick Windows PCs. The network interface to the sick computer works consistently and well and provides extensive access to folders and files. Since our original review of v1 in August 2005, we've used Selkie to successfully recover data from half a dozen 'difficult' PCs. With so many networked PCs in home, home office, SOHO and small business environments, we think Selkie Data Rescue is a must-have tool for just about anyone who uses Windows PCs on a regular basis.

Cons: Does not undelete files. A Selkie version with integrated functionality for undeleting files would move it from the Excellent category up to Genius level.

Pros: Selkie Data Rescue is simple, intuitive and can be used to recover files and data in a matter of minutes. Even if you've only got a pair of networked PCs in your home or office, Selkie Data Rescue can save the day in situations where Windows fails and other so-called rescue utilities simply can't work. If you use Windows, you need Selkie Data Rescue. It's the cheapest insurance you'll ever buy to protect and recover your files and data. Highly recommended.

KSN Product Rating:





© Copyright 2000-2006 All rights reserved. legal notice
home | previous reviews | forums | about us | search | store | subscribe


Hot News Search Home Previous Reviews About Us Store Subscribe