Nothing can ruin a day like losing your data. Whether a lost vacation photo, customer email list or any other type of valued file, data recovery software can be your ticket out of a tough situation. One of the most highly touted tools available is Prosoft Engineering Data Rescue.
During this review, we’ll examine in why this thorough scan tool lives up to its hype and where we found it fell a bit short of its biggest competitors, Stellar and EaseUS (read our EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard review). We performed our testing mostly using the Windows data recovery software, Data Rescue PC4, though we looked at the Mac version, Data Rescue 4, too.
Despite its marginal shortcomings, there’s no question Data Rescue stands as one of the top tools available for ordinary consumers and IT pros alike, which you’ll see reflected in our 2017 best data recovery software roundup. The service will successfully bail you out of a variety of scenarios like crashed hard drives, virus infections, corrupted or non-mounting partitions and accidentally deleted files.
Alternatives for Prosoft Engineering Data Rescue
Pricing & Licensing
License costs for Data Rescue are separate for PC and Mac versions and are limited to a single computer for consumer packages. There are unlimited-use licenses available for IT professionals, too. IT professional licenses are packaged with other software utilities offered by Prosoft Engineering and are charged per technician.
- : Basic Windows recovery. Home use only for up to five computers.
- : Basic Mac recovery. Home use only for up to five computers.
- : Basic Windows recovery. Commercial license based on number of IT professionals using software. Can be used on company and client computers.
- : Basic Mac recovery. Commercial license based on number of IT professionals using software. Can be used on company and client computers.
Prosoft Engineering also sells enterprise licenses but you’ll need to contact them for a direct quote. One of the nice things about Data Rescue is that you don’t have to buy the service first and hope that it works. You can download the demo version and use that to scan your computer to determine if your files are recoverable.
If they are, you can go ahead and purchase a license to complete the recovery.
While Prosoft Engineering gets nearly everything right, we noticed a few missing features. The biggest ones are that you can’t scan by file type or recover data from optical media. Thumbnail previews would be nice, too, to help sort through recovered data.
|Save Scan Results|
|Sort by File Type|
|Scan by File Type|
|Add New File Types|
|Full Hard-Drive Scan|
|Deleted/Lost File Recovery|
|Corrupted Partition Recovery|
|Deleted Partition Recovery|
|Bootable USB Device|
|External Drive Recovery|
|Removable Media Recovery|
|SD Card Recovery|
|Optical Storage Recovery|
Data Rescue can be used to recover a variety of file types. A few typical examples 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
Additionally, Data Rescue’s quick scan works with all the common different file systems:
- Data Rescue PC4: FAT (FAT12, FAT16, FAT32), NTFS
- Data Rescue 4: HFS, HFS+
For unsupported file systems, Data Rescue may still be able to recover your files with a deep scan since such scans are based on file patterns rather than accessing the directory structure.
In this segment, we’ll walk you through the Data Rescue PC4 user experience to help you get a feel for what the software can do. The recovery process provides a fairly intuitive experience thanks to a straightforward wizard.
Overall, we didn’t find the wizard packed as many options as a few other data recovery tools, though. For example, with Stellar Data Recovery Pro (read our Stellar Data Recovery review), you can select which types of files you want to scan for, which reduces scan time. Once the wizard starts, your first step will be to pick a volume to scan.
The program should detect any partitions on your hard drive. You can pick a particular partition or scan the entire hard drive. If you’re looking to recover a lost or deleted file, just pick the partition the file was on. If you’re trying to recover a deleted, corrupted or formatted partition, though, you’ll want to do a full drive scan.
We tested both processes during our review.
Single Partition Scan
Once you’ve selected the partition you want to work with, hit the “scan” button. On the next screen, you can choose to load scan results from a prior scan or start a new scan. Afterwards, you’ll be asked whether you want to run a quick or deep scan.
When you run a quick scan, Data Rescue can usually recover files that have been recently deleted. Quick scan can also be used to recover files from a non-mounting partition that still has its file system (i.e., it isn’t RAW or formatted).
For long deleted content, you’ll likely need to execute a deep scan. While scanning, a progress bar will keep you informed of how much of the scan has completed and how much time remains.
Once your scan completes, you can navigate found content with a file tree pane on the left side of the wizard. Folder content displays in the central pane.
Files deleted from Windows cannot be recovered with their filenames. Instead, generic names are given. This is a limitation with pretty much any data recovery software.
Because generic names can make sorting through content difficult, Data Rescue lets you preview returned data. Right-click on any file and select “view.”
Data Rescue doesn’t provide any sort of thumbnail preview to view recovered content, unfortunately, which would make the process much easier. If that’s something you need, consider EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard, instead.
Data Rescue does give you two different search capabilities: “find file” and “filter files by status.” Both are accessible from the “tools” menu.
“Find file” lets you search by a filename or suffix. So, if you know you’re looking for a Word file, just search for “doc.”
“Filter files by status” lets you limit the results displayed by whether the files are good, found, deleted, system files, invalid files or files with sector errors.
You can right-click any folder or file and select “check” to mark it for recovery. Once you’ve tagged everything you want to recover, hit the “recover” button near the bottom of the tool. You’ll be asked to select a recovery location, which must be a different volume from that scanned.
Full Hard Drive Scan
If you find yourself trying to recover a lost partition, choose to scan the entire hard drive rather than a specific partition when you start the Data Rescue wizard.
The process can take a few hours. But, once finished, you’ll be able to scroll through recovered partitions and hopefully find your lost volume in the results.
Drive letters aren’t recoverable, so you’ll need to guess which partition is yours based on size. Select the one you want and hit “next” to view its contents. Data Rescue will build out a file tree and you’ll be able to search through it for your files just like with the a more limited scan.
In testing Data Rescue PC4, we ran multiple scans on our test computer. These included both quick and deep scans against a test partition to recover lost files, as well as a deep scan against the entire hard drive to recover a deleted partition.
Our single partition tests were performed on a volume with an NTFS file system. The total volume capacity was 518GB with 138GB of free space. The full hard-drive size was 1TB.
Here are our results:
|Partition Quick Scan Time||5 minutes|
|Partition Deep Scan Time||2 hours, 50 minutes|
|Word Doc Recovered|
|Video File Recovered|
|Image File Recovered|
|Full Drive Scan Time||5 hours, 15 minutes|
|Deleted Partition Recovered|
The lost files deep scan took just under three hours to run, which is respectable for data recovery software. We did notice one issue, though: Running deep scan without rebooting our test computer first resulted in much longer scans of up to eight hours.
While this may point to an issue with our computer, other data recovery programs we tested, including Stellar and EaseUS, didn’t exhibit this behavior. It may be that the algorithms used by Data Rescue PC4 don’t make as efficient use of our system resources as other other programs.
Otherwise, we were pretty pleased with the thoroughness of the scan.
Prosoft Engineering’s support portal provides documentation for all of their data utilities, including separate sites for each version of Data Rescue. Sites include user guides, FAQs and video tutorials.
If you’re not able to find the answers to your technical questions there, both telephone and email support are offered during weekday U.S. business hours:
- Sales: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
- Support: 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.
They also offer live chat support during the same business hours. During our review, we contacted technical support multiple times via email.
On all occasions, responses were received within one business day. Also, unlike many support operations, answers weren’t just copied and pasted. Prosoft Engineering support representatives took the time to read our questions and respond personally.
The downside to Prosoft Engineering’s support site is that there’s no search option to navigate the portal, which makes finding information somewhat difficult. We’d also like to see Prosoft Engineering add a user forum, which is often the best way to get answers to uncommon problems.
The best way to protect your files from hard drive problems and accidental deletions is to ensure you always have a copy of them stored someplace else. To that end there’s no better solution than the best online backup software.
Should you find yourself in a situation where you haven’t backed up data and have lost a file or a whole partition, though, Data Rescue provides a nice failsafe to get your data back without having to pay for an expensive data recovery service.
Alternately, if you’re an IT professional Data Rescue is a valuable addition to your toolkit. In our evaluation, Data Rescue PC4 stands at the top of the class when it comes to do-it-yourself data recovery options.
Thanks for reading! Have your own take on Data Rescue? We’re always happy to hear your comments below.