A big part of the Cloudwards.net mission revolves around promoting cloud tools as a means of preventing data loss. Cloud backup solutions in particular are ideal to ensure you’ve always got a copy of your most valuable content. That said, we also understand the importance of taking such measures doesn’t really come to light until you’ve been bitten by the data loss bug. Our roundup with the best data recovery software shows you which vendors you can rely on.
The good news is that if you find yourself tearing out your hair because you accidentally deleted a file or are dealing with a corrupted, deleted or formatted partition, there might be a way out even if you neglected setting up a backup plan. During this roundup, we’ll be introducing our readers to some of our favorite data recovery software.
Standing at the top of this field are three brands you’ll want to pay attention to: Stellar Phoenix, Prosoft Engineering and EaseUS. Each of these companies produces a range of products designed for data management, computer diagnostics and other IT activities. Each vendor’s file rescue tool is built to appeal to techies but simple enough to use for anyone.
Close behind these vendors but without the range of ancillary products is Cleverfiles. Its data recovery solution, Disk Drill, is a near-perfect budget solution for Windows PC users (the Mac version costs more).
Other tools we targeted have more pronounced weaknesses, either in terms of usability, reliability, support or a combination of all three. Still, they managed to catch eye for one reason or another, ranking them ahead of the thirty or so utilities we checked out in preparing this roundup.
Best Data Recovery Software Reviews 2018
What Data Recovery Software Can Do
There are many ways to lose data and the best data recovery tools can handle them all.
Common causes of data loss include:
- Accidental deletion: you deleted a file from your recycle bin or trash
- Program deletion: a program or virus deleted your file
- Deleted partition: you deleted a data volume
- Formatted partition: you reformatted a data volume
- RAW partition: a data volume lost its file system for some reason
- Non-mounting partitions: data volume file system is intact but you still can’t access it
- Non-booting computer: when your boot partition becomes corrupted
Some of these issues are user created and some are the result of normal wear and tear; others can be caused by virus infections or more serious hardware issues.
There are various telltale symptoms of corrupted drives that you might come across. These include error messages like:
- Disk not formatted. Do you want to format now?
- Invalid media type reading drive C. Abort, Retry, Fail?
- Sector not found
You might also see strange characters in filenames if your partition is having issues. Or, the partition’s file system might simply show as “RAW.”
Although data recovery tools can often get the job done, don’t make the mistake of thinking they’re bulletproof. Very often, deleted data can’t be recovered if it has already been overwritten by other files. Also, sometimes partitions are so badly damaged that your data can’t be saved.
Relying on a data recovery tool to bail you out of data loss isn’t the best course of action. That’s particularly true when you consider that the more reliable tools cost $75 and up. Cloud backup solutions offer practically guaranteed recovery. On top of that, many of the best cloud backup services only cost around $5 per month.
Data Recovery Software Review Process
The number of data recovery tools available numbers in the dozens. Some are powerful utilities aimed at IT professionals and other power users, while others are simple budget tools that might recover a deleted file in a pinch.
About Joseph Gildred
Working with data and analyzing software has been my livelihood for years. As as former data analyst, I’ve executed, improved and designed data management processes and data recovery operations for both VLDBs (very large databases) and smaller systems. As a quality assurance analyst, I evaluate tools for both user experience and general efficiency.
In the course of my work, I frequently use data recovery tools to pull data from failing and corrupted storage. As such, I know my way round data recovery tools. I’m always looking for the best tools and solutions for any given situation and during this roundup, I’ll be sharing with you some of my findings.
In order to find the best recovery options capable of handling just about any data loss scenario, we reviewed features and price plans while also performing preliminary testing. Only then did we settle on a handful of services we felt warranted deeper review in order to make the best recommendations to our readers.
That deeper review included running a battery of scans to measure each data recovery tool’s usability and efficiency. Specifically, we looked at:
- Can the tool recover test files we created and deleted?
- Can the tool recover a partition we created and deleted?
- How long do quick and deep scans take?
- How much can the process be customized (like scanning for specific filetypes)?
- How easy is it to sort through recovered content?
- How user friendly is the the tool’s wizard in general?
Beyond those questions, we also took a closer look at feature sets with specific attention paid to things like:
- External hard drive recovery
- Flash drive and SD card recovery
- RAID recovery
- Cloning and recovery from drive images
- System startup discs
Not satisfied, we also dove into each data recovery service’s customer support capabilities. We read the user guides, FAQs, troubleshooting guides and hopped onto user forums, if available. We also looked at direct support channels like email, telephone and live chat, and posed various test questions to gauge response time and accuracy.
Best Data Recovery Software for Windows
During this segment, we’ll look at Windows PC data recovery to nail down the best picks. Our top three picks in this segment are pretty closely matched high-end tools. That said, there are some key differences that you’ll want to know about before making your selection.
These are our three favorites, you can’t go wrong with any of them.
Stellar Phoenix Data Recovery Professional
Starts at $99 for a lifetime license. Read our Stellar Phoenix Data Recovery review for the full picture.
The Stellar Phoenix Data Recovery price tag runs ahead of the most other Windows recovery tools, though is in line with the rest of our top three. However, based on our experience with it, no other tool justifies its cost as much.
We ranked this tool number one due not only its lovely wizard and exceptional performance, but because its feature list easily outpaces the competition.
You get all of the basic options you should expect from any recovery tool, including both quick and deep scan modes to recover deleted files and lost or inaccessible partitions.
In our tests, Stellar Phoenix successfully recovered all of our “accidentally” deleted files and recovered a deleted partition. A quick scan got our files back and ran in just a few minutes. Deep scans of a 518GB partition and our 1TB hard drive ran a bit on the long side compared to PC analogs put out by EaseUS and Cleverfiles, but outpaced most of the rest of the field easily.
In addition to recovering data from your computer hard drive, Stellar Phoenix do the same for external hard drives, USB flash drives, SD cards and even optical storage solutions.
Standout features not commonly offered include the ability to scan by file type and sort by file type when your scan finishes. While most file types are supported, you can even define new ones by giving the tool a few samples to learn from.
A couple of misses worth pointing out: RAID storage recovery requires an expensive “technicians” license and a system startup disc for non-booting machines costs extra.
If you find yourself balking at the $99 price tag, there is a home edition priced at $59.99. However, be warned that this version doesn’t support data recovery from lost partitions.
Prosoft Engineering Data Rescue PC4
Starts at $99 for a lifetime license. Read our Prosoft Engineering Data Rescue review for the full picture.Prosoft Engineering Data Rescue doesn’t quite measure up to Stellar Phoenix when it comes to recovery options. You can’t scan by specific file types or teach the tool to recover new file types. Also, unlike with Stellar Phoenix, you have to wait until your scan finishes to preview and recover files.
That said, this entry is still miles ahead of most other data recovery software and does do a few things Stellar Phoenix does not.
These include the ability to recover data from RAID storage devices. By their nature, RAID storage devices shouldn’t require data recovery often. They’re “redundant” to protect you from data loss; accidents, however, can always happen and always at the worst times.
Another feature not supported by Stellar Phoenix that we like in Data Rescue is that the tool lets you create a bootable USB drive. This can be used to access data on a machine when its boot partition is corrupted.
Otherwise, Data Rescue measures up pretty similar to Stellar Phoenix, as well as our next favorite option, EaseUS.
The tool lets you run both quick and deep scans depending on your needs. Those scans can be used to recover deleted data or access corrupted, deleted or formatted partitions. In addition to your computer hard drive, you can recover data from external drives, SD cards and removable media. Optical media recovery is not an option, though.
Data Recovery PC4 proved a very thorough scanning algorithm in our testing, able to recover all our test files and our test partition. Once found, you can preview everything before final recovery to make sure its what you want.
It ran a little longer than Stellar Phoenix, but not much. However, we did have some issues with significantly longer scan times without rebooting our test computer first, which is an issue we didn’t encounter with other data recovery services.
EaseUS Pro + WinPE
Starts at $99.90 for a lifetime license. Read our EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard review for the full picture.
We targeted the EaseUS Pro + WinPE license because it includes bootable media to recover data from computers that won’t start. However, if you’re okay doing without that option, buying just EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard will save you $30. That price reduction might be enough reason for some to go with this solution over our top two.
The reason we ranked it third was mostly on account that EaseUS Pro can’t do a full hard drive scan. You can only scan partitions. In most cases, that’s all you need. However, on occasion it may be that EaseUS will be unable to detect a lost partition. When that happens, a full drive scan is the best course of action.
Three other features we found missing were the inability to scan by file type, add new file types and no optical storage recovery. The software itself also doesn’t support cloning, but EaseUS puts out a free disk-copying tool for that.
Beyond that, the user experience is very nice, with a smart interface that looks and feels professional. One thing that stood out is that EaseUS caught our deleted partition right away, before we even ran a scan.
The process with EaseUS is a bit different in that it automatically runs a quick scan first, then runs a deep scan. Other solutions give you a choice of running one or the other. Given that the quick scan runs in two seconds and you can browse and preview recovered files while the deep scan runs, this quirk isn’t an issue.
One area where EaseUS stands out over our top two services (especially Data Rescue) is in how easy it is to sort through recovered data. You can browse through files based on your file structure or narrow things down based on file type.
As far as additional recovery options, EaseUS supports external drive, removable media and RAID recovery, but not optical media recovery.
Overall, we also found EaseUS to be the fastest of the three top services, while performing just as good a scan.
While the tools put out by Stellar Phoenix, Prosoft Engineering and EaseUS are the ones that will appeal to most people, we wouldn’t be doing our readers justice without mentioning a few other services that might be preferable to certain users for good reasons.
CleverFiles Disk Drill
Starts at $49 for a one-year license and $68 for a lifetime license. Read our CleverFiles Disk Drill review for the full picture.CleverFiles Disk Drill probably surprised us more than any other data recovery tool we tested. CleverFiles probably isn’t as well known in IT circles as our top three contenders because it doesn’t offer any commercial licenses. However, for most consumers, it might be just as good.
Two features missing from this service are startup disc recovery for non-booting machines, thumbnail previews and the ability to define new file types for scans. Also, you can’t pick specific file folders to scan like you can with Stellar Phoenix.
One thing we liked, though, is that CleverFiles not only gave us options to scan existing partitions, it automatically detected and let us scan our deleted partition.
Beyond that, CleverFiles presents a strong lineup of perks that includes external drive, removable media, SD card and optical drive recovery.
Wondershare Data Recovery
Starts at $39.95 for a lifetime license. Read our Wondershare Data Recovery review for the full picture.
The Wondershare Data Recovery wizard is simple but offers several great features to customize scans like the ability to scan by file type and scan specific folders. You can also choose to scan a labeled partition or pull data from the partition table to locate lost partitions.
There are a few missing features that you may or may not care about like cloning, RAID recovery and optical storage recovery. The bigger reason Wondershare won’t appeal to tech-savvy users is that it can’t be used to recover data from non-booting machines and scans take a really long time to run (13 hours for one terabyte).
Also, Wondershare doesn’t make it easy to get help desk support thanks to no live chat and slow email response times (two weeks, in our case).
Starts at $79 for a one-year license. Read our Ontrack EasyRecovery review for the full picture.Ontrack EasyRecovery offers a straightforward recovery experience with some nice wizard features. One of our favorites was how easy it made it to sift through recovered content with file-type sorting and a thumbnail-preview mode.
The software falls short in some big ways, though, preventing it from securing a higher spot in our rankings.
For one, our deep scans took twice as long to run as the preceding options. Compounding that issue, EasyRecovery doesn’t give you an option to scan by file type. Plus, you can’t save your scan results for later later if you decide to put off recovery. Finally, EasyRecovery doesn’t come with recovery CD or cloning features.
GetData Recover My Files
Starts at $69 for a one-year license. Read our GetData Recover My Files review for the full picture.GetData Recover My Files has the look of a powerful, polished data recovery tool designed for experts. So, we were understandably disappointed that a full scan of our one terabyte hard drive took 17 hours to complete. That’s slower than any other service we tested.
The scan got the job done, though. Options like the ability to scan by file type can cut down the time some, too, but may not be good enough for some users.
Recover My Files can be used to recover data from external drives, USB flash drives and SD cards. You can’t use it to recover data from computers that aren’t starting, though. RAID storage recovery requires a more expensive “professional” license.
Starts at $79 for a lifetime license. Read our GetDataBack Simple review for the full picture.
Though not as snappy as our top three picks, GetDataBack Simple runs a reasonably fast scan and managed to recovery all of our files. The reason it ranks low on our list is because the user experience falls short compared to most recovery solutions.
Key options like the ability to scan by file type, sort results by file type and save scan results are missing. Simple also can’t run a scan of a full hard drive: you’re limited to scanning individual volumes.
Also, the interface design isn’t very intuitive, a problem compounded by distracting and clashing colors. For the cost, we’d expect something a little more polished.
Piriform Recuva Pro
Starts at $19.99 for a one-year license. Read our Piriform Recuva Pro review for the full picture.Piriform Recuva Pro gets a lot of attention thanks to its budget pricing. While you’ll need to pay the $19.99 price for support, a free version of Recuva is available, too. However, while the pricing is obviously attractive, you do tend to get what you pay for with this recovery tool.
Several features found with more advanced tools are missing. You can’t sort scan results by file type or save scans for later recovery. Cloning and recovery from non-booting machines aren’t options, either. Also, even when you pay for Recuva, its support network is pretty shallow and doesn’t offer live help.
The primary problem with Recuva Pro, though, is that it can’t recover lost or deleted partitions. Given that partition recovery is a very important reason to spend money on a recovery tool, this is a major strike against Recuva, though it does explain the low price.
If you’re just after restoring deleted files, though, Recuva does a good job. The scans are fast and the wizard looks great. We were able to recover all of our test files and preview them before recovery.
Best Data Recovery for Mac
Most of the best recovery tools we reviewed also featured Mac versions. These tools can be used to recover deleted data and partitions on iMac, MacBook Pro, Air, Mac Mini and Mac Pro computers.
In some cases features and costs are different for these Mac analogs, so we decided to give Mac users a different set of rankings to refer, too. We won’t spend quite as much time talking about the Mac software, though, since the general look and operation of these tools is comparable to PC versions.
Prosoft Engineering Data Rescue 4
Starts at $99 for a lifetime license.
Data Rescue 4 ranks as our best pick for Mac OS, despite ranking second in our PC listings. That’s because the Mac software comes with some extra features. The list includes FileIQ, which enables the tool to learn new file types, and Bootwell, which lets you create a secondary startup drive.
Stellar Phoenix Mac Data Recovery
Starts at $99 for a lifetime license.
In addition to recovering data from your Mac, Mac Data Recovery can pull data from Time Machine and encrypted disk drives. The tool is just as as attractive as its PC counterpart and just as suited to consumers and IT professionals, alike.
EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard for Mac Pro
Starts at $89.95 for a lifetime license.
This edition of Data Recovery Wizard for Mac doesn’t come with bootable media, which can recover data from Macs that won’t boot. If you want that, there’s a more expensive $129 version. The application looks and works great but ranks third for the same reasons as its PC counterpart.
You can’t scan for specific types of files and can’t scan your full hard drive, just partitions. Also, you can’t teach EaseUS to scan new for new types of files. These aren’t huge hangups, though, and if you don’t need bootable media, picking EaseUS over the Stellar Phoenix and Prosoft Engineering will save you ten dollars, at least.
CleverFiles Disk Drill for Mac
Starts at $89 for a one-year license, $118 for lifetime license.
Disk Drill for Mac is somewhat limited by its ability to “only” recover 200-plus file types, and unlike the two leading options, you can’t add new file types. Plus, the lifetime license costs about $20 more.
However, the Mac version of Disk Drill does with some nice perks in addition to its standard recovery features. These include:
- Disk health: SMART monitoring to stay on top of potential hard-drive issues
- Mac cleanup: Analyze and optimize disk space
- Duplicate finder: Find and remove duplicate files
- Recovery drive: Create a bootable USB drive for data recovery
- Data backup: Create a byte-by-byte clone of any partition
Best Data Recovery Toolkits for IT Professionals
If you’re an IT professional, a data recovery suite is an important investment in your success. Commercial bundled licenses let you recover data on other people’s computers, whether they are PCs or Macs.
Most of the data recovery solutions we reviewed don’t offer such functionality. In fact, only the vendors that landed in our top three, Stellar Phoenix, Prosoft Engineering and EaseUS, do. That speaks to their established place as a top choices for professional technicians.
Stellar Phoenix Data Recovery Toolkit
|Bundle-Stellar Data Recovery Toolkit-Technician||$499|
|Windows Data Recovery Technician||$299|
|Mac Data Recovery Technician||$349|
|Linux Data Recovery Technician||$199|
Not only do you get a lifetime license, the Stellar Phoenix Data Recovery Toolkit includes software for Linux recovery. Even without that added bonus, Stellar Phoenix’s offering probably would have landed in our top stop based on the combined quality of its PC and Mac software.
The tools put out by Stellar Phoenix offer broader recovery options than any other developer. The toolkit license also lets you recover data from RAID storage, which the normal PC software does not.
Prosoft Engineering Drive Genius 4, Data Rescue 4 & Data Rescue PC3
|Data Rescue 4, Drive Genius 4, & Data Rescue PC 3||$499|
|Drive Genius 4 & Data Rescue 4||$399|
|Data Rescue 4 & Data Backup 3||$399|
|Data Rescue PC 3 & MediaTools Wipe||$699|
|Data Rescue 4, Data Rescue PC 3 & MediaTools Wipe||$899|
This bundle includes Drive Genius 4, a diagnostic tool to detect and correct hard-drive issues. You can use it to recover data from both PC and Mac, but the license is only good for one year, which a big reason to pick Stellar Phoenix, instead.
Prosoft Eng. does have several other professional license bundles available, though, which might appeal to some. These include offerings with MediaTools Wipe, which is a tool that wipes drives completely clean of data.
EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard Technician
|Data Recovery Technician PC and Mac||$598|
|Data Recovery Technician PC||$499|
|Data Recovery Technician Mac||$499|
Like Stellar Phoenix, buying the EaseUS technician bundle gives you a lifetime license for unlimited computers, so it’s an expense you’ll only incur once. On the other hand, it’s more expensive by two hundred dollars than Stellar Phoenix and isn’ t quite as good a tool.
Other options for IT technicians include separate PC and Mac licenses, but they’ re pricey.
Best Data Recovery Tools for Android
Android data recovery tools let you recover deleted text messages, contact information, pictures and other content from your phone. Generally speaking, they work by attaching your phone to your computer via USB. However, some tools also give you a an app to recover data directly from the phone.
Wondershare Dr. Fone for Android
Heading up our list is Dr. Fone for Android. Dr. Fone can recover accidentally deleted data and data from phones with blank or unresponsive screens.
Dr. Fone has some added capabilities in addition to data recovery that help rank it ahead of EaseUS MobiSaver despite its higher price tag. These include rooting, SIM unlock, lock screen removal and data erasure. It can also be used to backup phone data to your computer.
Processes work automatically and the interface is beautiful and intuitive.
Be careful that you enter device model information accurately when performing a recovery, though, as doing so improperly can brick your phone, rendering it useless for anything except acting as a paperweight.
- Recover deleted data
- SIM unlock phone
- Permanently erase data
- Backup and restore data
- Root phone
- A bit slow
- Can brick your phone
EaseUS MobiSaver for Android Pro
MobiSaver for Android Pro ranks as the best pure Android data recovery tool we reviewed on account of its ability to quickly scan and recover multiple files at once. The software can recover both accidentally deleted data and data from rooted phones. It gives you preview mode so you can check out files to make sure they’re what you want before recovery.
We ranked it lower than Wondershare in part because it doesn’t do some of the other things like rooting or unlocking your phone.
The other issue is that your phone actually has to be rooted before recovery, while Wondershare doesn’t share that limitation. Rooting your phone improperly can lead to it being bricked, so make sure you know what you’re doing.
- Simple interface
- Fast, thorough scans
- Preview files
- Recover multimedia
- Recover call history, texts
- Have to root phone
Jihisoft Android Data Recovery
JihiSoft Android Data Recovery lets you recover data without rooting you phone and provides a straightforward recovery process. Scans run fast and you can preview files before full recovery. We ranked it slightly lower than EaseUS because of cost and because the wizard isn’t quite as nice; still, it’s pretty close.
- Simple interface
- Fast, thorough scans
- Preview files
- Recover multimedia
- Recover call history, texts
Best Budget Data Recovery Tools
If you’re in a bind and on a budget, these data recovery tools are your best bet. They may not offer all of the bells and whistles of top-end solutions, but they should be able to recover accidentally deleted data and access non-mounting partitions at least.
CleverFiles Disk Drill
Starts at $49 for a one-year license.
If you don’t need a long-term license, CleverFiles $49 offering has as many features as brands that cost twice as much. This includes the ability to scan by file type and recover data from external drives, removable media, SD cards and optical media.
WonderShare Data Recovery
Starts at $39.95 for a lifetime license.
WonderShare costs $10 less than CleverFiles and comes with almost as many features. The most notable misses are cloning and optical media recovery. The primary reason we ranked it lower, though, is that CleverFiles scans run much, much faster: a full hard-drive scan with Cleverfiles took just three hours during our testing, while WonderShare took 13.
However, you do get a lifetime license with WonderShare, so you have more time to wait.
Stellar Phoenix Home
Starts at $59.95 for a lifetime license.
Stellar Phoenix Home differs from Stellar Phoenix Professional mostly in that it can’t recover data from RAW hard drives. However, it can still be used to recover deleted data and data on inaccessible partitions. So, it still covers most recover scenarios and will save you $40.
Data Recovery FAQ
Do you need a data recovery service or is software enough?
Data recovery software can recover data as effectively as a data recovery service. This includes recovery from data from machines that aren’t booting due to an issue with their boot partition. The only time you really need to use a service is if you have a drive that has failed physically.
Is all data recoverable?
No. When you delete files from your computer or a partition is deleted, there’s a chance that data could be overwritten by new files. If that happens, you won’t be able to get it back.
What if I formatted my hard drive, can I still use data recovery software?
Most good recovery software, like Stellar Phoenix, can recover data even if your hard drive has been formatted. Again, though, if you’ve overwritten your data with new data, that might not be the case.
What does a data recovery service company charge?
Data recovery services usually price based on the severity of the issue. It can be quite expensive. U.S. electronics chain Best Buy, for example, charges between $200 and $1500 for professional recovery.
What does data recovery cost?
The best tools we reviewed — Stellar Phoenix, Prosoft Engineering and EaseUS — cost around $100 for their flagship PC software. There are some cheaper options out there, like Cleverfiles and Wondershare, though they’re not quite as good.
Do I need I still need cloud backup if I have recovery software?
Yes! Data recovery is never a sure thing, while getting your data back from the cloud is. Also, cloud backup recovery is much faster and can be done from another computer. If you’ve got a good backup plan, you shouldn’t ever need to spend money on recovery software.
Best Data Recovery Software Reviews Summary
During our initial Cloudwards.net survey of the best data recovery tools available, we were both impressed by the number of good tools available and how much better the great tools were than the next tier.
Standing atop our rankings is Stellar Phoenix Data Recovery Pro, which provides the best blend of usability, features and performance of any tool we tested. While more expensive than lesser options, its capabilities are worth the cost even if you don’t take into account the fact that it comes with a lifetime license. We only wish we didn’t have to pay extra for a recovery CD.
Close on its heels was Prosoft Engineering. While Data Rescue PC4 doesn’t offer nearly as many customization options to tailor your scan, it comes with RAID recovery — something you’d have to buy the pricey “enterprise” edition of Stellar Phoenix to do.
Rounding out top three is EaseUS. The gap between EaseUS and our two favorite brands exists almost solely due to its inability to scan your full hard drive at once. If not for that fact, we may have ranked it number one.
We’d be remiss to mention one last time that the best way to ensure your files are always available to you is to invest in a cloud backup tool. Such tools are inexpensive and generally feature options to recovery deleted content within a given period of time. However, if you’re in a bind and not backed up, the data recovery tools in this roundup are your best bet to salvage your data.
Of course, we’d love to hear from you on your own experiences with any of these tools. So, please let us know what you think in the comments below. Thank you for reading.