BIOS Settings

Basic Input Output Subsystem is the program a personal computer's microprocessor uses to get the computer system started after you turn it on. It also manages data flow between the computer's operating system and attached devices such as the hard disk, video adapter, keyboard, mouse and printer. A typical method to access the BIOS settings screen is to press Delete / F1 / F2 / F8 / F10 or Esc during the boot sequence.


Boot Configuration Data. Firmware-independent database for boot-time configuration data. It is used by Microsoft's new Windows Boot Manager and replaces the boot.ini that was used by NTLDR.

Boot Priority

BIOS settings allow you to run a boot sequence from a floppy drive, a hard drive, a CD/DVD/BD drive or a USB device. You may configure the order that your computer searches these physical devices for the boot sequence. The first device in the order list has the first boot priority. For example, to boot from a CD/DVD/BD drive instead of a hard drive, place the CD/DVD/BD drive ahead of the hard drive in priority.

Boot Record

See MBR for Master Boot Record - located in the physical disk's first sector. Each volume on the disk has its own Boot Record called Volume or Partition Boot Sector, the content is file system specific.

Boot Sector

The boot sector continues the process of loading the operating system into computer memory. It can be either the MBR or the Partition Boot Sector.

Compressed Cluster

When you set a file or folder property to compress data, the file or folder uses less disk space. While the size of the file is smaller, it must use a whole cluster in order to exist on the hard drive. As a result, compressed clusters contain file slack space. This space may contain residual confidential data from the file that previously occupied this space. KillDisk can wipe out the residual data without touching the existing data.

CSV File

A comma-separated values (CSV) file is a delimited text file that uses a comma to separate values. Each line of the file is a data record. Each record consists of one or more fields, separated by commas. The use of the comma as a field separator is the source of the name for this file format. A CSV-file typically stores tabular data (numbers and text) in plain text, in which case each line will have the same number of fields.

Data Cluster

A cluster or allocation unit is a unit of disk space allocation for files and directories. To reduce the overhead of managing on-disk data structures, the file system does not allocate individual disk sectors by default, but contiguous groups of sectors, called clusters. A cluster is the smallest logical amount of disk space that can be allocated to hold a file. Storing small files on a file system with large clusters will therefore waste disk space; such wasted disk space is called slack space. For cluster sizes which are small versus the average file size, the wasted space per file will be statistically about half of the cluster size; for large cluster sizes, the wasted space will become greater. However, a larger cluster size reduces bookkeeping overhead and fragmentation, which may improve reading and writing speed overall. Typical cluster sizes range from 1 sector (512 B) to 128 sectors (64 Kb). The operating system keeps track of clusters in the hard disk's root records or MFT records, see Lost Cluster.

Device Node

Device node in the Local System Devices list is a physical device containing logical drives. The first physical device on older versions of Operating Systems is named 80h, now more typical name is PhysicalDrive0.

Exclusive Access

Lock is applied to a partition for exclusive writing access. For example, while recovering deleted or damaged files or folders, the recovery application must have exclusive access to the target partition while recovering files. If another application or the operating system are using the target partition - the processes could interfere, so user/process must close all applications or system processes that may be using the target partition before locking it.


File Allocation Table. Area that contains the records of every other file and directory in a FAT-formatted disk drive. The operating system needs this information to access the files. There are FAT32, FAT16 and exFAT versions. FAT file systems are still commonly found on flash disks and other memory cards and modules (including USB flash drives), as well as many portable and embedded devices. FAT is the standard file system for digital cameras per the DCF specification.


File Transfer Protocol. This is a standard network protocol used for the transfer of computer files between a Client and Server on a computer network. FTP is built on a client-server model architecture using separate control and data connections between the client and the server. FTP users may authenticate themselves with a clear-text sign-in protocol, normally in the form of a username and password, but can connect anonymously if the server is configured to allow it. For secure transmission that protects the username and password, and encrypts the content, FTP is often secured with SSL/TLS (FTPS) or replaced with SSH File Transfer Protocol (SFTP). The first FTP client applications were command-line programs developed before operating systems had graphical user interfaces, and are still shipped with most Windows, Unix, and Linux operating systems. Many FTP clients and automation utilities have since been developed for desktops, servers, mobile devices, and hardware, and FTP has been incorporated into productivity applications, such as HTML editors.

File Slack Space

The smallest file (and even an empty folder) takes up an entire cluster. A 10-byte file will take up 2,048 bytes if that is the cluster size. File slack space is the unused portion of a cluster. This space may contain residual confidential data from the file that previously occupied this space. KillDisk can wipe out the residual data without touching the existing data.

Free Cluster

A cluster that is not occupied by a file. This space may contain residual confidential data from the file that previously occupied this space. KillDisk can wipe out the residual data.


A free operating system for PC compatible computers. It intends to provide a complete DOS-compatible environment for running legacy software and supporting embedded systems. FreeDOS can be booted from a floppy disk or USB flash drive. It is designed to run well under virtualization or x86 emulation. Unlike most versions of MS-DOS, FreeDOS is composed of free and open-source software, licensed under the terms of the GNU General Public License.

Deleted Boot Records

All disks and partitions start with a boot sector. For a damaged disk and volumes (where the location of the boot records known) the partition table can be reconstructed. The boot record contains a file system identifier.


Internet Small Computer Systems Interface. iSCSI is a transport layer protocol that works on top of the Transport Control Protocol (TCP). It enables block-level SCSI data transport between the iSCSI initiator and the storage target over TCP/IP networks.


An International Organization for Standardization ISO-9660 file system is a standard CD-ROM file system that allows you to read the same CD-ROM whether you're on a PC, Mac, or other major computer platform. Disk images of ISO-9660 file systems (ISO images) are a common way to electronically transfer the contents of CD-ROMs. They often have the file name extension .ISO (though not necessarily), and are commonly referred to as "ISO".

Logical Drive

A partition is a logical drive because it does not affect the physical hard disk other than the defined space that it occupies, yet it behaves like a separate disk drive.

Lost Cluster

A cluster that has an assigned number in the file allocation table, even though it is not assigned to any file. You can free up disk space by reassigning lost clusters. In DOS and Windows you can find lost clusters with the ScanDisk utility.


Master Boot Record. All physical disks start with MBR. When you start the computer, the code in the MBR executes before the operating system is started. The location of the MBR is always track (cylinder) 0, side (head) 0, and sector 1. The MBR contains a partition table with file system identifiers.

MFT Records

Master File Table. A file that contains the records of every other file and directory in the NTFS-formatted volume. The operating system needs this information to access the files.

Named Streams

NTFS supports multiple data streams where the stream name identifies a new data attribute on the file. A handle can be opened to each data stream. A data stream, then, is a unique set of file attributes. Streams have separate opportunistic locks, file locks, and sizes, but common permissions.


New Technology File System (developed by Microsoft) is the file system that the Windows NT operating system uses for storing and retrieving files on a hard disk. NTFS is the Windows NT equivalent of the Windows 95 file allocation table (FAT) and the OS/2 High Performance File System (HPFS). All the latest Windows Operating Systems (Windows Vista, Windows 7, Windows 10) still use NTFS as a default file system.


Aka NT loader is the boot loader for all releases of Windows NT operating system up to and including Windows XP and Windows Server 2003. NTLDR is typically run from the primary hard disk drive, but it can also run from portable storage devices such as a CD/DVD or USB flash drive.


A Linux distribution. It is widely used throughout the world. The focus of its development is creating usable open-source tools for software developers and system administrators, while providing a user-friendly desktop and feature-rich server environment.


A section of the hard disk isolated for a specific purpose. Each partition can behave like a separate disk drive .

Partition Boot Sector

On NTFS or FAT file systems, the partition boot sector is a small program that is executed when the operating system tries to access a particular partition. On personal computers, the Master Boot Record uses the partition boot sector on the system partition to determine file system type, cluster size, etc., and to load the operating system kernel files. Partition boot sector is usually the first sector of the partition.

Physical Device

A piece of hardware that is attached to your computer by screws or wires. A hard disk drive is a physical device. It is also referred to as a physical drive.


RAID ("Redundant Array of Inexpensive Disks" or "Redundant Array of Independent Disks") is a data storage virtualization technology that combines multiple physical disk drive components into one or more logical units for the purposes of data redundancy, performance improvement, or both. Data is distributed across the drives in one of several ways, referred to as RAID levels, depending on the required level of redundancy and performance. The different schemes, or data distribution layouts, are named by the word "RAID" followed by a number, for example RAID 0 or RAID 1. Each scheme, or RAID level, provides a different balance among the key goals: reliability, availability, performance, and capacity. RAID levels greater than RAID 0 provide protection against unrecoverable sector read errors, as well as against failures of whole physical drives.
RAID 0 consists of striping, but no mirroring or parity. Compared to a spanned volume, the capacity of a RAID 0 volume is the same; it is the sum of the capacities of the drives in the set. But because striping distributes the contents of each file among all drives in the set, the failure of any drive causes the entire RAID 0 volume and all files to be lost. In comparison, a spanned volume preserves the files on the unfailing drives. The benefit of RAID 0 is that the throughput of read and write operations to any file is multiplied by the number of drives because, unlike spanned volumes, reads and writes are done concurrently. The cost is increased vulnerability to drive failures—since any drive in a RAID 0 setup failing causes the entire volume to be lost, the average failure rate of the volume rises with the number of attached drives.
RAID 1 consists of data mirroring, without parity or striping. Data is written identically to two or more drives, thereby producing a "mirrored set" of drives. Thus, any read request can be serviced by any drive in the set. If a request is broadcast to every drive in the set, it can be serviced by the drive that accesses the data first (depending on its seek time and rotational latency), improving performance. Sustained read throughput, if the controller or software is optimized for it, approaches the sum of throughputs of every drive in the set, just as for RAID 0. Actual read throughput of most RAID 1 implementations is slower than the fastest drive. Write throughput is always slower because every drive must be updated, and the slowest drive limits the write performance. The array continues to operate as long as at least one drive is functioning.
RAID 2 consists of bit-level striping with dedicated Hamming-code parity. All disk spindle rotation is synchronized and data is striped such that each sequential bit is on a different drive. Hamming-code parity is calculated across corresponding bits and stored on at least one parity drive. This level is of historical significance only; although it was used on some early machines (for example, the Thinking Machines CM-2), as of 2014 it is not used by any commercially available system.
RAID 3 consists of byte-level striping with dedicated parity. All disk spindle rotation is synchronized and data is striped such that each sequential byte is on a different drive. Parity is calculated across corresponding bytes and stored on a dedicated parity drive. Although implementations exist, RAID 3 is not commonly used in practice.
RAID 4 consists of block-level striping with dedicated parity. This level was previously used by NetApp, but has now been largely replaced by a proprietary implementation of RAID 4 with two parity disks, called RAID-DP. The main advantage of RAID 4 over RAID 2 and 3 is I/O parallelism: in RAID 2 and 3, a single read I/O operation requires reading the whole group of data drives, while in RAID 4 one I/O read operation does not have to spread across all data drives. As a result, more I/O operations can be executed in parallel, improving the performance of small transfers.
RAID 5 consists of block-level striping with distributed parity. Unlike RAID 4, parity information is distributed among the drives, requiring all drives but one to be present to operate. Upon failure of a single drive, subsequent reads can be calculated from the distributed parity such that no data is lost. RAID 5 requires at least three disks. Like all single-parity concepts, large RAID 5 implementations are susceptible to system failures because of trends regarding array rebuild time and the chance of drive failure during rebuild. Rebuilding an array requires reading all data from all disks, opening a chance for a second drive failure and the loss of the entire array.
RAID 6 consists of block-level striping with double distributed parity. Double parity provides fault tolerance up to two failed drives. This makes larger RAID groups more practical, especially for high-availability systems, as large-capacity drives take longer to restore. RAID 6 requires a minimum of four disks. As with RAID 5, a single drive failure results in reduced performance of the entire array until the failed drive has been replaced. With a RAID 6 array, using drives from multiple sources and manufacturers, it is possible to mitigate most of the problems associated with RAID 5. The larger the drive capacities and the larger the array size, the more important it becomes to choose RAID 6 instead of RAID 5. RAID 10 (see Nested RAID levels) also minimizes these problems


Preboot EXecution Environment. In computing the Preboot Execution Environment specification describes a standardized client-server environment that boots a software assembly, retrieved from a network, on PXE-enabled clients. On the client side it requires only a PXE-capable network interface controller, and uses a small set of industry-standard network protocols such as DHCP and TFTP.


Remote Access Service. Is any combination of hardware and software to enable the remote access tools or information that typically reside on a network of IT devices. A remote access service connects a client to a host computer, known as a remote access server. The most common approach to this service is remote control of a computer by using another device which needs internet or any other network connection.

Registry Hive

Highest level of organization in the Windows registry. It is a logical group of keys, subkeys, and values in the registry that has a set of supporting files loaded into memory when Windows is started or an user logs in.

Root Records

Used in FAT file system. A table that contains the records of every other file and directory in a FAT-formatted hard disk drive. The operating system needs this information to access the files. There are FAT32, FAT16 and FAT versions.


Security Account Manager. Database file that stores users' passwords in a hashed format. Since a hash function is one-way, this provides some measure of security for the storage of the passwords. It can be used to authenticate local and remote users. Beginning with Windows 2000 SP4, Active Directory authenticates remote users.


The smallest unit that can be accessed on a disk. Typically sector size is 512 or 4096 bytes.


Small Computer System Interface. A set of standards for physically connecting and transferring data between computers and peripheral devices. The SCSI standards define commands, protocols, electrical, optical and logical interfaces. SCSI is most commonly used for hard disk drives and tape drives, but it can connect a wide range of other devices, including scanners and CD drives, although not all controllers can handle all devices. The SCSI standard defines command sets for specific peripheral device types; the presence of "unknown" as one of these types means that in theory it can be used as an interface to almost any device, but the standard is highly pragmatic and addressed toward commercial requirements.

Secure Erase (SSD)

The ATA Secure Erase command is designed to remove all user data from a drive. With an SSD without integrated encryption, this command will put the drive back to its original out-of-box state. This will initially restore its performance to the highest possible level and the best (lowest number) possible write amplification, but as soon as the drive starts garbage collecting again the performance and write amplification will start returning to the former levels. Drives which encrypt all writes on the fly can implement ATA Secure Erase in another way. They simply zeroize and generate a new random encryption key each time a secure erase is done. In this way the old data cannot be read anymore, as it cannot be decrypted. Some drives with an integrated encryption will physically clear all blocks after that as well, while other drives may require a TRIM command to be sent to the drive to put the drive back to its original out-of-box state (as otherwise their performance may not be maximized).

Secure Erase (Frozen State)

SSD disk is blocked (frozen) by BIOS. The reasons can differ. Modern ATA hard drives and SSDs offer security options that help user to control access and reliably destroy data if necessary. Brand new HDD or SSD from a store have all the security features initially disabled... BIOS of many motherboards run the SECURITY_FREEZE_LOCK ATA command when booting to provide protection against manipulation.

Signature Files

File types are recognized by specific patterns that may serve as a reference for file recovery. When a file header is damaged, the type of file may be determined by examining patterns in the damaged file and comparing these patterns to known file type templates.

Span Array

A series of dynamic drives linked together to make one contiguous spanned volume.


S.M.A.R.T. (Self-Monitoring, Analysis and Reporting Technology; often written as SMART) is a monitoring system included in computer hard disk drives (HDDs), solid-state drives (SSDs) and embedded MultiMediaCards (eMMC) drives. Its primary function is to detect and report various indicators of drive reliability with the intent of anticipating imminent hardware failures. When SMART data indicates a possible imminent drive failure, software running on the host system may notify the user so preventative action can be taken to prevent data loss and the failing drive can be replaced and data integrity maintained.

Templates (Patterns)

File types are recognized by specific patterns that may serve as a reference for file recovery. When a file header is damaged, the type of file may be determined by examining patterns in the damaged file and comparing these patterns to known file type templates. This same pattern-matching process can be applied to deleted or damaged partitions. Using FAT or NTFS templates, recovery software can assume that a particular sector is a FAT or NTFS boot sector because parts of it match a known pattern.

Tiny Core Linux

A minimal Linux kernel based operating system focusing on providing a base system functionality. The distribution is notable for its small size (11 to 16 MB) and minimalism; additional functions are provided by extensions. Tiny Core Linux is free and open source software and is licensed under the GNU General Public License version 2.


Tracks are concentric circles around the disk and the sectors are segments within each circle.

Unallocated Space

Space on a hard disk where no partition exists. A partition may have been deleted or damaged or a partition may not have been created.


Unified Extensible Firmware Interface is a specification for a software program that connects a computer's firmware to its operating system (OS). UEFI is expected to eventually replace BIOS. Like BIOS, UEFI is installed at the time of manufacturing and is the first program that runs when a computer is turned on.

Unused Space in MFT-records

Applicable to NTFS file system on Windows. The performance of the computer system depends a lot on the performance of the MFT. When you delete files, the MFT entry for that file is not deleted, it is marked as deleted. This is called unused space in the MFT. If unused space is not removed from the MFT, the size of the table could grow to a point where it becomes fragmented, affecting the performance of the MFT and possibly the performance of the computer. This space may also contain residual confidential data (file names, file attributes, resident file data) from the files that previously occupied these spaces. KillDisk can wipe out the residual data without touching the existing data.


A fixed amount of storage on a hard disk. A physical device may contain a number of volumes. It is also possible for a single volume to span to a number of physical devices.

Volume Shadow Copy

Shadow Copy (also known as Volume Snapshot Service, Volume Shadow Copy Service or VSS) is a technology included in Microsoft Windows that can create backup copies or snapshots of computer files or volumes, even when they are in use. It is implemented as a Windows service called the Volume Shadow Copy service.

Windows System Caching

Windows reserves a specified amount of volatile memory for file system operations. This is done in RAM because it is the quickest way to do these repetitive tasks.

Windows System Records

The Windows logs keeps track of almost everything that happens in Windows OS. This enhances performance of the computer when doing repetitive tasks. Over time, these records can take up a lot of space.


WinPE is a compact Windows-based operating system used as a recovery environment to install, deploy, and repair Windows Desktop Editions, Windows Server, and other Windows operating systems. After boot to WinPE, user can:
  • Set up a hard drive before installing Windows.
  • Install Windows by using apps or scripts from a network or a local drive.
  • Capture and apply Windows images.
  • Modify the Windows operating system while it's not running.
  • Set up automatic recovery tools.
  • Recover data from unbootable devices.
  • Add a custom shell or GUI to automate these kinds of tasks.