If you are looking for the best Mac data recovery software to get back your accidentally deleted or lost files, here’s the place for you.
We understand how frustrating and desperate it can be when you couldn’t find some important files saved on your Mac computer or an external drive. Those files are so precious that you can’t afford to lose them for whatever reason.
We tested more than 30 data recovery software on our MacBooks, and picked the best ones we thought are worth your time trying — though you probably know that your success rate may vary.
No one can guarantee 100% recovery rate, and there’s no such magic software. Some Mac data recovery software are better than others, we help you narrow down the apps that are worth your time or money.
If one of the Mac data recovery software works for you, that’s great! If not, your last option might be opting for professional data recovery services which usually are very pricey.
The best way to avoid data loss is to make backups on a regular basis. You are on a Mac, Time Machine should be your first option. We also recommend you keep multiple copies of these files by syncing them to the cloud or transferring to an external drive.
Please note: the apps listed below are for recovering files from your Mac disk drive or an external storage media such as a hard drive or SD card. You can NOT use them for retrieving data from a smartphone. Instead, read our best data recovery reviews for iPhones, iPads, or Android. If you use a PC, also check out our best Windows data recovery software.
Without keeping you waiting, here’s a brief summary of our recommendations. You can click the links below to learn more about each Mac data recovery software if you prefer to start right away without reading the entire article.
Best Free Data Recovery Software for Mac:
Best Paid Data Recovery Software for Mac:
Other Alternatives to Consider:
Best Mac Data Recovery Software in 2020: What to Consider?
Here are the criteria we used to test and narrow down the options. In our opinion, the best Mac data recovery software should be free of virus/malware, easy to use, able to find and recover as many file types as possible, provides supportive tutorials or troubleshooting guides, and be compatible with the latest macOS version.
We had an initial list of data recovery apps, mostly need to be downloaded from its official websites. We installed each app on our MacBook Pro (based on the latest macOS). We then ran the app and see if macOS pops up any security warning. This helps tell whether the app contains any malicious processes. Also, we evaluate whether the software performs read-only procedures, which is important to protect the source drive.
We tried to mimic each data loss scenario though it’s very unlikely that we can do so. We prepared a folder filled with common files such as images, videos, documents, etc. We first saved them to desktop, then deleted them and emptied Mac Trash. After that, we tested each Mac data recovery software to scan the disk and locate any recoverable files, followed by evaluating several things: time needed to finish a scan, percentage of files recovered, whether the files found are intact.
Ease of Use
Data recovery is complex, so can be a data recovery app. However, the majority of Mac users aren’t tech-savvy. We gave those well-designed apps more weight. If a piece of software is too complicated to navigate, we consider its usability to be low thus discount its score. We tend not to recommend this app unless it has other merits.
We examine each software developer/provider to see if they offer up-to-date tutorials or troubleshooting guides for users, as this helps users better understand the app and increase the confidence to use it. Also, whether we can contact the developer/provider if we run into any issues/bugs during the data recovery process. This can be seen on the developer’s websites, e.g. whether they can be reached via email, live chat, or even phone calls.
If a Mac data recovery app isn’t compatible with the latest macOS Catalina, we removed it from our list in the first step. This is pretty straightforward because the software probably hasn’t been updated for quite a while. It’s a waste of time to install the app only to find it doesn’t work, let alone the security risks associated with it.
Best Mac Data Recovery Software: Our Picks for 2020
All the apps recommended below are all 100% safe to install, and they are compatible with macOS Catalina.
1. TestDisk (Free)
TestDisk is free Mac data recovery app designed to help recover lost partitions and/or make non-booting disks bootable again. It’s suitable for when these issues are caused by malware/virus, faulty software, etc.. You can also use TestDisk to repair file system errors. Together with the sister app PhotoRec, which is mainly used to retrieve deleted files, the two apps developed by CGSecurity are probably the best free Mac data recovery software out there. Although one thing that may hold many people from using it is unlike normal GUI software, both TestDisk and PhotoRec are command-line tools — you’ll have to learn how to navigate using your Mac keyboards instead of mouse/cursor.
2. Stellar Mac Data Recovery Professional ($79.99)
Boast itself as “the best data recovery software to recover deleted files”, Stellar Data Recovery Professional for Mac does offer a number of great features for you to maximize chances of file recovery. You can use it to recover deleted or lost files under a variety of scenarios, e.g. emptying Trash, deleted volumes and formatted drives, lost backup data from Time Machine drive. Besides Macintosh drives, it is able to scan a wide range of external storage devices such as USB, SSD, SD, CF, ex-HDDs, etc. The demo version allows you to scan and preview files found, a license code will be needed if you intend to save those files.
3. Exif Untrasher (Free)
Exif Untrasher is more like a Mac photo recovery software rather than a data recovery app. Because you can only use it to retrieve JPEG photos — NOT other file types. Also, you can only run it to scan external storage devices as “Macintosh HD” is greyed out. The developer claims Exif Untrasher has been successfully used to get back erased photos from various cameras, smartphones and tablets from such as Apple, Canon, Nikon, Olympus, Kodak, Fuji, Minolta, Panasonic, Pentax, Ricoh, and others.
4. R-Studio Data Recovery for Mac ($79.99)
Built by R-tools Technology (an old software company dedicated to providing data security solutions since 2000), R-Studio is a sophisticated Mac data recovery tool aimed at recovering files from FAT/NTFS/ReFS, APFS/HFS+/HFS, UFS1/UFS2 and Ext2/Ext3/Ext4 FS partitions. The raw file recovery can also be used for heavily damaged or unknown file systems. PCWorld and FinancesOnline reviewed the app and gave it 4 out of 5, 9.2 out of 10 ratings respectively.
5. EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard for Mac (Free, 2GB)
EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard is a different type of free Mac data recovery software because the Free edition allows you to recover up to 2GB of data without any restrictions. Otherwise, you’ll need to upgrade to the Professional version that costs $89.95 which allows you to recover any amount of data and comes with free lifetime technical support. CNET, PCWorld, and TechRadar all gave it this app a high rating.
6. RecoverIt for Mac ($89.95)
Formerly known as Wondershare Data Recovery, RecoverIt is the re-branded app that provides all-around rescue solutions when you accidentally deleted, formatted or lost files and other data loss disasters on your Mac machine. We found some of the words used on their official website over-promised about delivering results, e.g. “Any data lost issues happened from Mac OS can be solved easily with Recoverit Mac data recovery”, this is simply not true. Nevertheless, RecoverIt is a well-designed app that’s very intuitive to use.
7. Prosoft Data Rescue ($99)
After newly two decades in business, Prosoft continues to offer one of the best Mac data recovery tools in the market — Data Rescue. It’s super simple to use, allowing you to recover lost and deleted files even from internal or external drives that no longer appear/respond. Supported file types include your precious photos, videos, important business or school documents, and more. What we like most about it is the “Clone” feature which you can use to duplicate a potentially failing drive onto a healthy drive.
8. Mac Data Recovery Guru ($89.73)
The name of this app is pretty straightforward, which gave us quite some hope for its quality. After testing the app, we’d say Mac Data Recovery Guru is quite different from other apps listed here. First of all, we ran into a “bug” while launching the app because you’ll have to manually add it to Applications in order to open and use it. We do appreciate the simple text guidance given in the main interface, and all you have to do is select the drive on the left panel, click “Start Scan” button, then preview found files, and hit “Recover”, all are completed in one screen.
9. MiniTool Mac Data Recovery ($69)
Don’t be fooled by its original name “MiniTool Mac Data Recovery V3.0 Free”, this app isn’t actually free. When you download the free version (also called Demo version), it says at the bottom line that you can only recover 1 MB data which in our opinion means nothing because even a picture can take a few MBs. Four recovery modes: Undelete Recovery, Damaged Partition Recovery, Lost Partition Recovery, and Digital Media Recovery are clearly displayed on the main interface. MiniTool says it allows you to recover almost all types of files from internal Mac hard drive, USB disk, memory card, and other storage media.
10. Remo Recover Mac ($59.97+)
Remo Recover (Mac) is another Mac data recovery software worth exploring. The app has built-in a comprehensive scanning algorithm that helps find and recover deleted files or files lost due to missing volumes, and re-partitioned Mac drives. It has three editions: Basic, Media, and Pro. While the Basic edition costs $59.97, Media edition $69.97, and Pro edition $179.97. We recommend you take the trial version first before making a decision to purchase any license.
Andreas is a freelance tech writer based in California. He works on a Mac in the office and lives with a PC and many old computer electronics at home. While he is not reading or writing, you’ll probably find him playing online games with friends.