4 Best Photo Recovery Software for PC and Mac (updated 2016)
You've learned that photo recovery software can be used to recover lost pictures from a camera memory card or a computer — even if you formatted the card/disk or it became corrupted.
That's great. But not all photo recovery tools are created equal. In our experience, some are good at recovering deleted pictures, some good at digging a little deeper and rescuing more images from a crashed storage media.
We downloaded and tested every popular digital photo recovery program to determine which was best for recovering photos (and other types of media files) — analyzing everything from security, recovery ability, supported devices, ease of use, and system compatibility.
Here's a list of top software that stood out:
Please note: the software selected below are for recovering digital media files from camera cards, USB flash drives, PC/Mac hard drives, etc. If you want to recover photos from a mobile phone/tablet, check out best data recovery software reviews for iPhones, iPads, or Android phones.
QUICK PICKS: 4 GREAT CHOICES
Windows & Mac OS X
Windows & Mac OS X
**Below, you'll find our expert reviews, but feel free to click the links above to learn more about the software from developer's website.
Criteria We Chose for Photo Recovery Evaluation
Below are the five main factors we used to test dozens of image recovery utilities. We also include detailed explanations on why they are important for you.
- Security: we make sure all tested and recommended tools are virus-free, we do so by uploading the downloaded file to Valkyrie — a sophisticated file verdict system for such usage. We also evaluate if the program is nondestructive or versatile, as software designed for photo recovery should only perform read-only operations and shouldn't cause any damage to a storage media.
- Recovery ability: this is the essential part of our test. A powerful photo recovery software should be able to recover all kinds of image formats available today. Besides standard JPEG, PNG, we also pay attention to see if the program support camera RAW image formats. Also, to our surprise, most of the so-called photo rescue software can retrieve video and audio files as well.
- Supported devices: if the software is not able to detect the storage devices (e.g. a memory card, flash disk, etc.) where your lost photos reside in, then it's useless. I did find several such programs which are for restoring pictures from Windows PC hard drive only. In short, the best tools should support conventional devices that carry our photographs.
- Ease of use: user experience is another important factor we care. We find some programs poorly designed and look alike; we knock them out because we suspect they are white-labelling products (except the brand name, everything else is same). Also, we have to admit that we prefer GUI software than command line tools.
- System compatibility: software that keeps updating tends to be more secure yet reliable. If a Windows photo recovery software is not compatible with latest Windows 10, or a Mac photo recovery tool can't be run under OS X El Capitan, we have to think twice before putting them on the list.
What's The Best Photo Recovery Software?
All the software below have been tested by us; we guarantee that they are secure: free of malware issue, and they perform read-only scanning which means safe to use.
Easy Digital Photo Recovery (Windows Only)
Easy Digital Photo Recovery is a simple image recovery tool that works amazingly to recover many types of graphic images from JPEG, TIFF to many RAW formats. What we like most about it is that it scans quickly and enables you to preview all found images thus you'll find those lost items a lot faster — less panic. The program also incorporates multiple languages on the Interface including English, French, Spanish, German, etc. The software can only run under Microsoft Windows XP/Vista/7/8. Though the developer doesn't claim it's compatible with Windows 10, we tested it on our Windows 10 PCs, and it worked perfectly.
Stellar Phoenix Photo Recovery
Stellar Photo Recovery is one of the most powerful digital media recovery software. Besides images, it's also capable of recovering videos and music files. Specific media file formats supported include but not limited to JPEG, PNG, TIF, TIFF, RAW, MP3, MP4, AVI, WMV, FLV, MOV, WAV. The software also supports vast majority of storage devices such as digital cameras, flash cards, PC/Mac hard drives (except SSDs), and more. The software has both a Windows and Macintosh version. You'll have no problem using it on your PC or Mac.
Odboso PhotoRetrieval (Windows Only)
PhotoRetrieval is another excellent software that passed our test. It is developed to recover deleted photos (also videos & audio) from both computer hard drives and portable devices such as digital cameras, cell phones, memory sticks, etc. No matter you lose files due to accidental deletion, disk formatting, hardware malfunction, the program has no problem handling all of the situations. It is compatible with all versions of Windows OS.
Remo Recover Media
Like its name says, the software aims to recover media items — Remo claims it's able to identify and restore up to 50 popular media file types from iPods, flash memory cards, camcorders, and hard drives. The best part is its deep scanning mechanism, which allows you to scan the entire disk drive thoroughly and get back all deleted, formatted or lost pictures, videos, and audio files safely. The software can run on a PC or Mac, and it compatible with all versions of Windows OS including Windows 10 and Mac OS X 10.5+ including El Capitan.
Disclaimer: our photo recovery reviews are based mostly on (1) our own experience in testing and using the programs, (2) the information provided by respective developers, and (3) the expertise of computer geeks with whom we consult. Our goal is to test every feature of all the recommended tools. However, due to the fact that it's sometimes impossible to do so as some photo loss scenarios are random and can't be made on purpose. As such, please be aware that the best picture recovery programs recommended above are our opinions. We do highly suggest you contact their customer support for help if you encounter any problems or issues during the recovery process.