Piriform Recuva Pro
A budget-friendly tool that covers the basics without straying into advanced territory, Piriform Recuva Pro feels a little unfinished at times.
Recovering lost data can be an expensive proposition. If you go to a professional, it could cost hundreds or even thousands of dollars. If you opt for software, in most cases you’re looking at between $50 to $100 for reliable software like Stellar Phoenix or EaseUS.
Recuva enters the data recovery fray as one of the best value options on the market. Not only is its flagship application, Piriform Recuva Pro, available for just $20, there’s actually a free version with no limits on how much data you can recover. It’s no wonder Recuva has been generating a bit of virtual watercooler talk.
Intrigued by what we were hearing, we at Cloudwards.net decided our own test drive of this value-driven data recovery solution to see just how well it measured up compared to our other best data recovery software.
Our conclusion: While only available for Windows users, Recuva gets the job done. However, sparse features and worse support means those with broader needs or little technical know-how may want to look elsewhere.
- Fast and thorough scans
- Scan by file type
- External drive recovery
- No thumbnail previews
- Recovery CD costs extra
- No RAID recovery
Recuva data recovery software is only available for Windows. Piriform offers a free, unsupported version. Recover Pro adds premium support, automatic updates, optical media recovery and virtual drive recovery.
While business licenses are available, you still have to buy a new license for every computer, making it a bad choice for IT professionals who work on multiple computers.
Recuva offers a decent set of features for its pricetag. Here’s a look at what you get.
Not bad. But several advanced features commonly available with other data recovery platforms aren’t offered by Recuva. The biggest miss is that Recuva Pro can’t recover lost partitions. Others include startup-disc recovery, cloning, and decent sorting features to parse recovered data.
Recuva also can’t be used to recover data from RAID storage. If such features are important to you, we’d strongly suggest you consider options like:
We’d particularly encourage you to consider those options if you’re looking for a data recovery solution for your business. They cost more, but they’re worth it.
Once installed, Recuva’s simple wizard will walk you through the recovery process from start to finish. You’ll first be prompted to select a file type to recover.
The ability to select a specific file type shortens scan times considerably, and isn’t something all recovery tools do. For our tests though, we wanted to scan for all file types, so we picked “all files.” Next, you’ll need to pick a location to scan.
Recuva does a nice job again by offering more options than many tools.
Pick “recycle bin” if you’re just looking for content you personally deleted. If you want to scan your whole hard drive, pick “I’m not sure.” Choose “in a specific location” if you want to scan a specific partition or folder. There are also options for removable and optical media.
One big miss by Recuva is that it doesn’t include an option for “lost partition.” Many other recovery tools, including Stellar Phoenix and EaseUS, pull data from the partition table so you can scan deleted partitions if they’re not overwritten.
To illustrate the rest of the process, we selected our “D” partition.
One the next screen, you’re given an option to enable “deep scan.”
By not enabling deep scan, Recuva will run a quick scan instead (we tested both). Something very important to know: by default, Recuva also only scans for deleted files. If you’re dealing with damaged or reformatted disks, you’ll want to make sure you go to “options < actions,” and enable “scan for non-deleted files.”
You’ll also want to select the option for “restore folder structure.” Most recovery solutions build out the drive file-tree structure automatically. It’s strange that Recuva doesn’t: not doing so only saves a tiny bit of time and the additional work it causes easily undoes that benefit.
Options set, hit the “start” button to begin your scan. A status window keeps you informed of its progress and how much time remains before completion.
You don’t get to review your results while your scan progresses like you can with some of the better data recovery solutions we’ve reviewed. So, you’ll have to wait until the scan is done. Once your scan completes, you can preview files on the right side of the wizard.
Despite the addition of a preview pane, sorting through data with Recuva is much harder than with other data recovery solutions. To ease the task, go back to options. Under the general tab, switch from “list view” to “treeview.” Doing so helps, but we wish we could sort results by file type, too.
Once you’ve found what you’re looking for, recover your file by clicking the checkbox beside it and hitting the “recover” button. There’s no option to save your scan results, so make sure you’ve recovered all the files you want to before closing the application.
Overall, the process works, but it isn’t as convenient as some other options, like Stellar Phoenix. Then again, it is a budget solution, so you get what you pay for.
We tested Recuva’s data recovery capabilities by running scans on our test computer. We ran both quick and deep scans on a 518GB test partition with 379GB of used space. We also ran a deep scan against our entire 1TB hard drive.
To test Recuva’s ability to find deleted files, we created and deleted three test objects: a Word document, a .mp4 video and a .jpg image. Normally, we also check out a data recovery tool’s ability to recover lost partitions. However, this isn’t a capability Recuva has.
|Quick Scan (500GB Partition)||5 seconds|
|Deep Scan (500 GB Partition)||1 hour|
|Full HD Scan (1TB)||2 hours, 30 minutes*|
|Word Doc Recovered|
|Video File Recovered|
|Image File Recovered|
|Recovered Deleted Partition||Not an option|
Recuva’s scan times were among the best of any recovery tool we’ve tested, and we were able to recover our three test files. However, beyond that, the results were pretty meager.
While we set Recuva to recover non-deleted items, too, by going to “options > actions,” the scan didn’t return our intact files. We played around with settings and tried to rerun the scan, but we couldn’t get our files back.
Given that Recuva doesn’t return intact files, that means we wouldn’t be able to use it to recover content from a non-mounting or corrupt partition. That limits its use to recovering accidentally deleted files and places it behind every other data recovery tool we tested.
One of the things that stands out about Recuva is its speed. One hour for a deep scan makes it the fastest working scan algorithm we’ve worked with.
Piriform maintains an online knowledge portal for all of its products, including Recuva. The portal is easy to navigate with setup instructions, user tutorials and FAQs. The issue we have with the portal is that it’s a bit too shallow. Most pages are only one or two paragraphs and we had to work a lot of things out on our own to get get the type of scan we wanted.
We were really happy to see that Piriform offers a user forum, though. If you do find yourself lost, it’s a good place to pose questions to other users or Piriform itself. Recuva attracts a strong developer base, it seems, so you should get pretty good advice.
Email support is available if you’re a paying Recuva Pro subscriber. Otherwise, there’s no way to contact Recuva with question. Telephone and online chat support aren’t available even with a paid subscription, which is another reason IT professionals, businesses and unsure consumers might want to consider a different option.
If you’re on a budget and in a bind, Recuva’s a good first option to try and recover your data. The downside is that it doesn’t include some of the powerful features that more robust data recovery solutions offer. Most notably, this includes recovery of deleted partitions and recovery from non-booting computers.
For more serious needs, especially businesses and IT pros, we suggest looking elsewhere. Piriform Recuva Pro feels like a product that’s still very much in the oven and just doesn’t offer the same level of support as some of the more developed solutions out there.