CleverFiles Disk Drill provides users with an intuitive, feature-rich data recovery tool that competes admirably with bigger names like Stellar and EaseUS, but comes at a slightly more attractive price.
Data recovery tools can bail users out of a variety of scenarios, including helping recovery deleted files, lost, formatted or non-mounting partitions, and pulling data off of crash hard drives. For a full accounting of the scenarios covered by most data recovery tools, be sure and check out the Cloudwards.net roundup of best data recovery software.
During this review, we’ll cover Disk Drill pricing and features, then introduce you to the general user experience. We’ll also take a look at how Disk Drill performs, before finishing up with a look at CleverFiles’ customer service operation.
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Pricing & Licensing
CleverFiles has licenses for both individual and commercial consumers. Software can either be used for Mac or Windows. It doesn’t have any bundled toolkits to service both operating systems. Licenses are generally good for one year but you can upgrade to a lifetime license for a bit more money.
- Basic recovery for PC. Annual license for 1 user and 3 computers. Add lifetime upgrade for $19.
- Basic recovery for Mac. Annual license for 1 user and 3 computers. Add lifetime upgrade for $29.
- Basic recovery for PC. Lifetime license for unlimited users and machines.
- Basic recovery for Mac. Lifetime license for unlimited users and machines.
If you’re not sure Disk Drill is the data recovery solution you’re looking for, the free trial will let you put their software to the test. The trial only lets you recover data up to 100MB, however, you can at least see if larger files are recoverable by running a scan and previewing the results. As you can read in our Stellar Data Recovery review, that service lets you recover up to 1GB for free, so it may be a better deal for you.
CleverFiles Disk Drill happens to be one of the most feature-heavy disc recovery tools on the market, competing directly with top services like Stellar and EaseUS (read our EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard review).
The following table presents a quick overview of some of those features. We’ll explore some of these throughout this review. For deep explanations of the value of these features, don’t miss our data recovery roundup.
- : Windows, Mac
- : No
- : Mac only
We also like Disk Drill’s “recovery vault” feature. Recovery Vault runs background processes to protect specified HFS, HFS+, FAT or FAT32 partitions on your computer. It stores metadata on deleted files including filenames. This information is used in the reconstruction process so that when you recover a file, you’re not just given a generic file name like you are with other recovery services.
It also speeds up the recovery process because you don’t need to run a deep scan. Note that if you’re using Time Machine on a Mac partition, there’s no need to use Recovery Vault, though.
During this review, we’re specifically looking at the Windows version of Disk Drill. The Mac version, though more expensive, does come with some added features which make it one of the best data recovery options for that operating system.
- iOS recovery
- Android recovery
- Bootable drives
- Duplicate finder
- Health monitoring
- Forensic features
We would like to see startup recovery made available for the Windows version of the software, too, as often times users need to recover data from non-booting machines.
For both Windows and Mac versions of the software, we’d also like to see the ability to add new file types. Currently, Disk Drill for Windows supports over 200 file types and Disk Drill for Mac supports over 300. So, in most cases not having this feature won’t be an issue.
Support file types include:
- Documents: Word, Excel, Powerpoint, PDF
- Images: JPEG, PNG, RAW, Photoshop, Illustrator
- Audio: MP3, WAV, AIFF, AAC, Ogg
- Videos: MPEG-4, QuickTime, AVI, WMV
- Archives: Zip, Gzip, RAR, Stuffit
Disk Drill can be used to recover files from the following file systems:
- Windows: FAT, NTFS
- Mac: HFS, HFS+
- Removable Storage: ExFat
To scan your computer with Disk Drill, once you boot up the application, you’ll first need to pick a location to scan. Using the Disk Drill wizard, you can choose to scan your entire hard drive or a partition on your hard drive.
Disk Drill pulls data from your device’s partition table to list deleted partitions, too, saving you from having to run a full hard drive scan to find them. Many data recovery tools don’t do this (read our Prosoft Engineering Data Rescue review for another service that performs admirable in this respect).
There’s no option to scan an individual folder like there is with Stellar. There’s also no option to scan for specific file types. Neither is a real deal breaker, though, since Disk Drill’s quick scan runs faster than most.
Disk Drill has three scan types that you’ll want to be aware of:
- Run quick scan
- Run deep scan
- Run all scan types
When you run a quick scan, Disk Drill recovers files that are still intact but not accessible. This includes both recently deleted content and content on non-mounting partitions. Quick scan will return file paths and original file names.
Deep scan, on the other hand, scans free space on your drive and reconstructs deleted files based on file patterns. This method of recovery will be best for files that have been deleted a long time or recovering data from RAW volumes.
If you know you want to run a deep scan, we’d recommend you choose the option to run both quick and deep scans sequentially. This returns both intact and reconstructed files.
While your scan runs, you can keep tabs on its progress thanks to a progress bar at the top of the app. That bar features timers which display time elapsed and time remaining, keeping you up to date on how things are moving along.
You can browse and preview recovered files as they become available, before the scan even finishes. Preview by right clicking on a file and selecting, “preview.”
There’s no option to preview thumbnails, which is a drag. However, you can preview by general file type. Accomplish this by clicking on the desired category on the right side of the wizard: pictures, video, documents, audio or archive. There are also categories for size and date.
You can also perform a file search.
Doing so will help locate files with specific names or files with specific extensions (txt, docx, jpg, etc.). You can browse files returned by your scan in the central pane. Intact files are sorted by their file tree location, just like in your file explorer. Deleted files can be found in the recycling bin folder.
Once you’ve found the files you want to resurrect, doing so is as simple as marking the checkbox beside the file or folder name in your results and then clicking the “recover button” near the top of the app.
Indicate your desired recovery location in the field beside the recover button. This can be the same location you recovered the file from, but it’s generally recommended you save elsewhere. If you’re not ready to recover yet, you can save the scan results and process them later by clicking “save session.”
Next, we’ll take a look at how well Disk Drill actually performed in its recovery tasks.
We performed a series of basic tests to gauge Disk Drill’s efficiency. These included quick and deep scans run against a single partition and full scan run against an entire hard drive.
The test partition we tested was 518GB in size, with 139GB of free space. The size of the full hard drive was 1TB. We created and deleted three test files for our partition scan testing, which included a Word document, a MP4 video file and a .jpg image file. We also created a 10GB test partition, loaded it with data, and deleted it.
Here are the results of our testing:
|Quick Scan (500GB Partition)||10 seconds|
|Deep Scan (500 GB Partition)||1 hour|
|Full HD Scan (1TB)||3 hours|
|Word Doc Recovered|
|Video File Recovered|
|Image File Recovered|
|Recycling Bin Files Found (Self-deleted Content)||7|
|Recovered Deleted Partition|
We were impressed by Disk Drill’s overall speed, which outran most other data recovery tools handily. Of course, fast speeds don’t necessarily equate to a thorough scan. In Disk Drill’s case, though, we were able to recover all three test files.
Our efforts to recover our deleted test partition were a success.
Live chat support for Disk Drill and other CleverFiles programs is available. Chat can be initiated 24/7 though you may end up waiting several hours for a response during non-business hours. You can leave your email address if you don’t feel like waiting.
You can also just file an email ticket directly. We tested both options. During business hours, we got a chat response back in about 15 minutes. Email responses consistently back in under 24 hours.
If you’re a DIY tech support type, CleverFiles maintains a rich knowledge portal that will answer most common questions. Categories along the left margin of the portal can be used to browse content or you can use the search option if you you have something specific in mind. There’s also a FAQ section.
The CleverFiles user forum provides another nice avenue for getting questions answered and resolving problems. You can also visit the forum to find out about Disk Drill updates and make feature suggestions.
We can into this review prepared for another run-of-the-mill data recovery tool that couldn’t quite match the capabilities of professional data recovery tools like produced by Stellar, EaseUS and Prosoft Engineering. What we found was a budget-friendly tool that delivered in just about every way.
CleverFiles Disk Drill provides a clean, intuitive user interface. Options are excellent and scans are both fast and thorough. This is a tool that will appeal to ordinary consumers and impress IT professionals at the same time. Have experience with CleverFiles Disk Drill? We’d love to hear your take, so please let us know in the comments below. Thank you for reading.