The Stellar brand stands as one of the most reputable IT software brands today thanks to a broad range of data utilities designed to bail users out of tough situations. During this review, we’ll be looking at the company’s data recovery solution, called Data Recovery Professional, which works for both Mac and Windows OSes.
Stellar Data Recovery can be used to resurrect files that you, an application, your OS or a virus have deleted. It can also be used to recover data from crashed or corrupted hard drives, or deleted, RAW or non-mounting partitions.
Perks that we love include the ability to recover data from external hard drives, USB flash drives and damaged CDs or DVDs. The tool also supports cloning, which can be used to copy your entire file system or a volume onto a new hard drive in case yours is failing.
To top it off, Stellar works efficiently and has one of the most feature-rich wizards of any data recovery tool we tested, with options to scan by file type, scan specific folders and preview files while your scan is still in progress.
We were so impressed with Stellar after putting it through our testing regime that we named it our top data recovery tool for PC in our best data recovery software roundup. Read on to find out the full scope of its capabilities, plus where it falls a little short.
Alternatives for Stellar Data Recovery
Pricing & Licensing
A typical Stellar license applies to a single device and is good for life. For IT professionals, there are toolkit licenses available, which let you use the software on any computer and any operating system, whether Windows, Mac or Linux.
- Basic file recovery. No RAW Recovery.
- Basic file recovery.
- Unlimited license for IT Professionals.
- Unlimited license for IT professionals. Includes Windows, Linux and Mac data recovery.
The cost for Data Recovery isn’t cheap but are in line with other top solutions like EaseUS (read our EaseUS Date Recovery Wizard review) and Prosoft (Prosoft Engineering Data Rescue review). We like there’s a cheaper “home” edition, but its inability to recover files from RAW storage means it won’t help you out with one of the most common data loss scenarios.
For a cheaper alternative, check out our CleverFiles Disk Drill review.
Here’s a brief overview of the primary features of Stellar Data Recovery Professional. We highlighted this software package because it offers RAW partition recovery, an important feature for any data recovery software.
- : Windows, Mac, Linux
- : Mac only
- : Sold separately
Features not offered include both server and RAID storage recovery, however, Piriform offers these if it’s important to you. Read our Piriform Recuva Pro review for more on this.
Both of these are included in the more expensive “technician” edition of Stellar Data Recovery. Also, unlike some other tools (like Data Rescue PC4), if you want startup disk recovery, you’ll need to pay $20 extra. A startup disk lets you recover data from a computer that won’t boot due to a corrupted boot partition.
Stellar supports recovery of most file types. The list includes:
- 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
In the rare event that a file type isn’t supported, the software allows you define new file types if you have five samples that it can use to learn from.
Stellar also supports the common file systems used by Windows and Mac:
- Windows: FAT, NTFS
- Mac: HFS, HFS+
- Removable Storage: ExFat
During this segment, we look at the basic recovery process for Stellar Data Recovery. The steps we cover represent the two of the most common procedures users will run with Stellar. We won’t examine some of the additional processes, like how to add new file types or how to clone a partition in this space.
Once you’ve installed and started Data Recovery Professional, the wizard first asks you to pick the type of file you want to scan for. Being able to select a specific file type is a nice inclusion since it reduces scan time.
Next, you’ll need to pick a location.
You can pick a specific partition to scan, or even a folder, another nice time saver. There’s also an option under “other locations” called “can’t find drive.” Using this, you can recover data from RAW partitions with relative ease.
If you select this option, on the next screen you can run a quick scan that will pull partition information from you computer and display what it finds. Doing so doesn’t return drive letters but it does show drive information like size. This should let you pick and scan deleted or otherwise lost partitions so long as they haven’t been overwritten with new data.
Whether you select a lettered drive, specific folder or a lost partition, once you hit “scan,” Data Recovery Professional automatically initiates a quick scan, first.
This is a departure from how many other data recovery applications work, which let you pick either a quick or deep scan. However, since a quick scan should be your first attempt to recover data and only takes a couple of minutes with Stellar, the difference in approach shouldn’t be a concern.
Whether you’re running the initial quick scan or have moved on to a deep scan, Data Recovery Pro provides on-screen data to let you know how much of the scan has been completed, how much time has elapsed and how much more time the scan should take.
Once your scan completes, you can review recovered data by:
- File type: sorts content into file categories
- Tree view: displays content based on directory structure
- Deleted list: only shows deleted and lost files
We appreciated having all three options, which you won’t get with most other software. There’s also a search option.
Viewing by the deleted list option segments content into a “recycle bin” folder and a “raw data” folder. The recycle bin folder contains data you’ve personally deleted from your hard drive, while the raw data folder contains otherwise lost content.
When you click on a file, if possible, Data Recovery Professional will show you a preview of its contents. This helps you determine if a given file is what you’re looking for before you recover it. As the filenames of deleted content aren’t recoverable, the preview capability is essential. This is a limitation of all recovery software.
Overall, searching for files is pretty simple with more options than other recovery tools we vetted. Our only real criticism is that there’s no thumbnail preview available like there is with EaseUS.
Mark any folder or file for recovery by checking the box beside its name. When you’re ready, click the “recover” button. You’ll be asked to select a recovery destination, which must be different from the partition you’re recovering from.
If you’re not ready to recover, you can save your scan results for later.
During the testing process, we measured both Stellar’s quick and deep scan capabilities for comparison against similar products.
Our test computer had a one-terabyte hard drive. We tested deep and quick scan capabilities against a 518GB partition with 379GB of used space. During this testing, we were looking to recover three deleted test files: a Word doc, a .jpg file and a .mp4 file.
We also ran a scan against our entire hard drive to see if we could recover a test partition that we created, loaded with content, then deleted.
Here are the results:
|Quick Scan (500GB Partition)||6 minutes|
|Deep Scan (500 GB Partition)||2 hours, 20 minutes|
|Full HD Scan (1TB)||5 hours|
|Word Doc Recovered|
|Video File Recovered|
|Image File Recovered|
|Recovered Deleted Partition|
Stellar Data Recovery did everything we wanted, cementing it as not only a very user friendly, feature-rich tool, but one that provides efficient scanning capabilities.
Stellar provides sales and technical support via a support portal. You’ll find a searchable knowledge-base and FAQs. Overall, the knowledge base seems a little skimpy and itself reads more like an FAQ resource. More detailed tutorials, including video, would be nice.
If you find the support portal as insufficient as we did, Stellar does provide direct support options. We exchanged several emails with Stellar during the course of our testing and received responses within 24 hours every time. You can also speak with a liver support technician over telephone or chat during business hours.
We spent some time communicating with Stellar over live chat and found help friendly, knowledgeable and fast.
Over the course of reviewing nearly thirty data recovery solutions, no brand impressed us more than Stellar Data Recovery. The brand’s data recovery tool is packed with options, very user friendly and runs a snappy, thorough scan. True, it doesn’t have the most budget-friendly pricing, but when you’re shopping data recovery solutions, you tend to get what you pay for.
Whether you’re a consumer who’s found themselves dealing with a catastrophic data loss situation or an IT professional looking to arm yourself with superior tools, Data Recovery Professional is the best choice you can make.
Of course, as always, prevention is the best measure to ensuring you don’t lose your files, so be sure and backup your hard drive if you aren’t already. Thanks for reading and please let us know if you have any thoughts on Stellar in the comments below!