You probably have tried many free recovery programs, but they didn’t work, right? That’s why you searched on Google for the best data recovery software.
We have been there. In our experience, most of the freeware just doesn’t cut it. There are times when we ran a recovery program on our PC, only to find it didn’t even support Windows 10 – you feel the frustration?
Therefore, when it comes to choosing the data recovery software for recovering deleted or lost files from storage media like hard drives, USB drives, memory cards, etc., we’re determined to find out which provider really works and offers the most value.
In our opinion, five major components differentiate good data recovery software from the bad ones, and those are 1) Security, 2) Quality, 3) Ease of use, 4), Compatibility, and 5), Technical support.
We’ll explain why these five factors matter in this review, but here is the best data rescue software that is worth your time trying.
The programs below are for Windows PCs only. If you are on an Apple Mac computer, see the best Mac recovery software we’ve reviewed. Also, check out our picks for retrieving files from iPhones, iPads, or Android devices.
Here’s a quick recap of our recommendations:
- Recuva – the best free data recovery software to get started.
- Wondershare RecoverIt – the best value data recovery software priced at $39.95 only, while offering a number of recovery options.
- Stellar Windows Data Recovery – the most intuitive software that will guide you through almost every kind of data loss situation.
- R-Studio for Windows – the most powerful program designed for data recovery professionals.
Below, you’ll find our expert reviews, but you can also click the links above to get the software and start retrieving your lost files right away.
Note: The software listed below works only when your Windows PC can start up normally. If it fails to start or crashes during startup, try EaseUs Data Recovery Bootable Media to recover those inaccessible files.
Best Data Recovery Software in 2020: What to Consider?
Whether it contains malware. This is always the number one thing we check to make sure a downloadable file (in .exe format) does not include any malicious files. We ran Norton Security and Malwarebytes to test whether the program is safe to use. We also uploaded the downloadable file to VirusTotal — a free service that analyzes suspicious files and detects viruses, trojans, and all kinds of malware.
Whether it performs safe operations. If the software is virus-free, we then install the application on our PC (based on Windows 10) and start testing. The next thing about security we check is whether the application only performs read-only procedures during the scanning process. This is important because you don’t want any third-party software to write extra content to the disk drive from which you want to recover your files.
Supported file types. If you accidentally formatted a hard drive or a digital media card, you want all your files (pictures, videos, songs, etc.) back, right? Therefore, the file rescue tools should support recovering as many types of file types as possible, so you don’t have to try other alternatives.
Supported storage devices. Many data recovery programs actually don’t support recovering files from external devices. Therefore, they are useless if you need to retrieve files from a flash drive or an external drive (see our best drives for backup). These days we all know file loss happens more often on removable media than on PCs.
Time to complete the scan. We understand the anxiety even panic when you realize you’ve deleted some important files to your life or work. Obviously, you don’t want to spend the whole day simply waiting for a drive scanning to finish. The program should perform high-speed scanning, or ideally, offer flexible scanning modes for end users to choose from.
File preview. When the scan process is over, the best data recovery program should allow you to preview thumbnails of found files, because this helps check if they are the items you want to restore. Also once they are recovered, the quality of recovered files should be identical to the originals.
Ease of Use
Usability is another factor we take into account in evaluating whether a data recovery software is worth trying or not. Because end users are usually not tech-savvy. The easier and simpler the software interface is designed, the better a user like you are able to handle it. Although the program does not have to be well-decorated with fancy icons, it must have a decent UI (user interface) and offer a decent UX (user experience). Given the complex nature of data backup and recovery, some instructions or warnings should be given before users intend to select or click any buttons.
Meanwhile, a software crash is unacceptable, though it’s hard to develop a bug-free program. At the end of the day, when you get everything ready, you don’t want to see the software doesn’t work as it’s advertised due to frequent crashes. This is also an important indicator of whether a piece of software is poorly developed or truly great, which is surely worth exploring in our tests.
Not only an outdated program has compatibility issues running on the latest Windows operating system, but we also suspect it would have security concerns as well. The best file recovery software should be compatible with the latest version of Windows 10.
Data recovery may sound easy, but it’s actually very complex because the process involves lots of advanced computers related matters. A well-designed computer program usually requires a dedicated team of developers to spend hundreds (if not thousands) of hours designing and coding.
It’s quite common that you’ll have questions or face issues during the data recovery process. It would be good to turn to the developers/providers for help via email, live chat, or by phone (though most programs don’t offer this option), etc. Also, we give more weight to those programs that offer troubleshooting tips, knowledge base, and video tutorials on their official websites or YouTube channels.
Best Data Recovery Software in 2020: Our Picks
We’ve tested dozens of data recovery software and come up with the following options. Due to the nature of data recovery and the complexities of data loss scenarios, your results may vary.
If you accidentally deleted some of the important files from work or the memorable photos with your family, give Recuva a try first as it’s free. Recuva claims it can recover pictures, music, documents, videos, emails or any other file type you have deleted or lost. It supports recovering from many storage media such as memory cards, external hard drives, USB sticks and more.
Insider tip: try the “Quick Scan” mode first, if it doesn’t find your files, go to the “Deep Scan” mode.
RecoverIt, formerly called Wondershare Data Recovery, claims it’s capable of recovering 550+ file formats (documents, photos, videos, audio, emails, archives, etc.) from internal PC hard drive as well as external storage devices. While it’s unrealistic for us to prepare so many files to test, we were impressed by its usability. The program has a friendly tutorial that guides you through until you came to choose one of the eight recovery modes. Wondershare offers tons of help tutorials, and their customer service (via email) is prompt and professional.
3. Stellar Windows Data Recovery
Stellar is one of our top choices thanks to its comprehensiveness and great support. This data recovery software can recover nearly 300 file types (including Outlook emails) from any NTFS, FAT, and exFAT based storage devices. The best part is that the program allows you to save and resume a scanned image, which means you don’t have to sit in front of your PC waiting for the scan to complete if the disk partition is large (e.g. a 1TB external drive); Instead, you can save a scan progress and resume recovery whenever you want. Stellar also offers excellent technical support via knowledge articles, emails, chats, and phone calls.
4. R-Studio for Windows
R-Studio applies new unique data recovery techniques owned by R-tools Technology. The program supports recovering files from drives in various file formats including NTFS, NTFS5, ReFS, FAT12/16/32, exFAT, HFS/HFS+ and APFS. R-Studio was chosen to be the best professional data recovery software by Data Recovery Digest. It’s without cons though, one of them is the demo version only allows to retrieve files up to 256 KB which is kind of useless as in 2019 the size of most files starts from MBs. But overall, this is the program you should try if your goal is to achieve maximum recovery chances.
5. EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard Professional
EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard was primarily designed for advanced users to retrieve inaccessible files from RAID storage or damaged media, but recent upgrades also made it perfect for basic users to recover files deleted from PCs or external drives, and from raw/corrupted or non-mounting partitions. Like R-Studio, it’s also best for professional data recovery scenarios. If you are a computer technician who wants to rescue files for a client, give this program a try.
6. Do Your Data Recovery Professional
What we like about this all-around Windows data recovery program is its user interface design which makes the scan and recovery process simple. The four main recovery modes are self-explanatory: Deleted File Recovery (for files accidentally deleted from Recycle Bin), Formatted Recovery (for data lost due to drive formatting), Raw Recovery (for files inaccessible due to disk damage or error), and Other Data Recovery. It is just another data recovery program that may deliver.
7. Prosoft Data Rescue
Previously called Data Rescue PC, this program is developed by an industry well-known company Prosoft Engineering, a software development company based in Livermore, California since 1985. Prosoft has been focusing on data backup and recovery solutions for decades and without surprise, their Windows data recovery program is featured as one of the best here. Data Rescue 5 offers both Quick and Deep scan options and you can save your previous scan and continue where you left off. Prosoft offers live chat and email for customer ticket support.
8. UltData Windows Data Recovery
UltData is another great option. As its name indicates, it’s a tool aimed at recovering deleted or lost files on Windows 10. Tenorshare, the maker, claims that the program supports recovering more than 550 file types with a high recovery rate. But compared to other recommended software above, we feel UltData failed to live up to its claims. Nevertheless, it’s a program worth trying and it supports recovering from hard drive, memory card, dynamic disk, and removable devices.
9. Remo Recover Windows
Remo Recover Windows is nearly as powerful as Stellar. It features three standard modes: Recover Files, Recover Drives, and Recover Photos, which are listed on the program’s main interface. We recommend photographers and videographers to try this recovery tool if you have some specific media files to recover from your digital camera or memory card. Remo offers a lot of useful information like tech specifications and video tutorials on their site. If you have any questions or concerns, you can also send an email or have an online chat with their support team.
10. MiniTool Power Data Recovery
Power Data Recovery is one of the few data recovery programs that claim to be able to retrieve files from SSDs (solid-state drive), besides from traditional storage media like HDDs, flash drives, memory card, etc. Another highlight of the software is the latest version 8.5 supports previewing of 70 kinds of files, which saves you time locating the targeted files after a scan. The program also offers a free edition but less powerful than the standard edition.
11. Recover My Files
Developed by GetData, a company specialized in providing data recovery solutions since 2001, Recover My Files can help you recover deleted files emptied from the Windows Recycle Bin, files removed by virus/malware infection, files lost due to the format of a hard drive, unexpected system shutdown or software failure. At first glance, the program looks like it hasn’t been updated for decades, but it worked perfectly fine under Windows 10.
Chris is a lifelong tech enthusiast with a broad range of interests including coding, data analysis, traveling, and more. He used to work as a software programmer immersing himself in the world of codes, now he finds it more interesting talking to real people.