Data recovery can seem like a complex process, and that’s because it is. The good news is that the best data recovery software and the best data recovery services can make it affordable and effortless. When you finish reading this article, you will know all about free and paid file recovery solutions and can select the best one for you.
What is data recovery?
Let’s start by answering a common question: what is data recovery for? Simply put, the goal of data recovery is to restore access to damaged, lost or inaccessible files. There are two main types of data recovery:
Logical data recovery:
This type of data recovery deals with non-mechanical issues and mainly relies on various file recovery software applications.
Logical data loss can be self-inflicted (accidental deletion or formatting) or can be caused by external factors (system crash, driver issues). Although the term “logical data loss” sounds permanent, the reality is that accidentally deleted or corrupted files can often be recovered without much effort.
Physical data recovery:
As the name suggests, this type of data recovery deals with mechanical issues and is usually performed by computer data recovery professionals in dust-free labs.
Loss of physical data can also be self-inflicted (spilled coffee) or caused by external factors (fire, flood, power surge). What all of the possible causes of physical data loss have in common is that they prevent the storage device from functioning. A skilled data recovery professional equipped with state-of-the-art tools could perform lost data recovery, but DIY repair attempts rarely work.
To choose the proper data recovery techniques, you need to understand how often physical and logical data loss occurs.
Is it possible to recover data for free?
Yes, depending on the data loss situation you are having, you may be able to recover files for free using the recovery tools built into Windows and macOS:
Mac Recycle Bin / Recycle Bin:
All modern desktop operating systems have a special folder for deleted files which gives users the ability to change their mind and easily perform data recovery without downloading anything from the internet. In Windows, this folder is called the Recycle Bin. On macOS, this is called Trash, or sometimes Trash.
Full story / Time machine:
Since files can be deleted permanently without first ending up in the Recycle Bin or Trash, Windows and macOS come with native file backup tools that can save the day when all hope seems to be lost. Windows’ native file backup tool is called File History, while macOS users can protect their files with Time Machine.
One drive / iCloud:
Today, users have the option of backing up important files to the cloud using solutions like Microsoft OneDrive or Apple iCloud. The biggest benefit of cloud backup is that any computer or device with an internet connection can be used to perform file recovery, including free raw data recovery.
However, the most severe cases of data loss can usually only be resolved with the help of specialized computer data recovery software tools. These tools come in a variety of different prices, and some are even completely free.
A great example of a free file recovery tool is PhotoRec, a free and open source data recovery utility software with a text-based user interface that uses data formatting techniques to recover nearly 500 file extensions. different files. .
While free and inexpensive file recovery tools rarely recover files as reliably and effortlessly as their paid counterparts, like Disk Drill, which offers 500MB of lost data recovery and comes with a variety of tools. , drives Disk drives useful in dealing with a variety of data loss. related issues.
Of course, the ability to recover data for free mainly depends on the underlying cause of the data loss. As we explained in the previous section of this page, physically damaged storage devices can seldom be recovered at home for free even with the best paid file recovery software, as fixing them requires professional tools and installations. .
Common causes of data loss (on different devices)
No storage device is immune to the risk of data loss, and the consequences of data loss can always be catastrophic. However, all storage devices are affected slightly differently due to the way they are used. Let’s take a closer look at the differences between them:
Internal hard drives:
Because they spend most of their lives inside a computer case, internal hard drives are fairly well protected from physical damage, but that doesn’t mean the overall risk of data loss is. significantly reduced. In fact, the essential nature of internal hard drives increases the likelihood of logical data loss and other causes of data loss in computer systems caused by non-mechanical issues.
External hard drives:
Commonly used as backup devices, external hard drives are frequently transported from one location to another, increasing the risk of data loss caused by physical damage. This is why it is important to use a protective cover when traveling with an external hard drive, especially if the drive has turntables.
Most Android devices can store data on internal storage or on a removable memory card. The data recovery options vary depending on the location from which you need to recover the lost data. In general, it is easier to recover data from Android memory card because you can just connect it to any computer with memory card reader and use popular data recovery software.
No iPhone (or any iOS device for that matter) comes equipped with a memory card slot, which means all data is stored on internal storage. Due to Apple’s walled garden approach, not all computer data recovery software can scan iOS devices and recover lost data, and there is no data recovery app on it. ‘App Store which can recover deleted files without computer. .
All types of SD cards (micro, mini, standard) store data on a small flash memory chip, which is enclosed in a plastic case. It doesn’t take much for the plastic body to shatter and the chip inside to take critical damage. Users may also experience logical data loss after improperly ejecting an SD card and preventing all read / write operations from completing successfully.
USB flash drives :
Thanks to their compact size, USB drives are perfect for quickly transferring files between different devices, but they can also be used as affordable backup devices. Their portable nature makes them vulnerable to physical damage, while their convenience and availability make users take them for granted and stop paying attention to data protection best practices.
|Data loss reason||Description||Solution|
|Human error||All people make mistakes, and some mistakes lead to data loss. The good news is that such mistakes can usually be recovered from using special data recovery software or native recovery solutions, such as File History in Windows or Time Machine in macOS.||Data recovery software|
|Formatting||A lot can go wrong when you click the “Format” button without double- or triple-checking which storage device you’re about to format. While the instant loss of hundreds or even thousands of files can seem utterly devastating, their recovery usually isn’t any more difficult than the recovery of a single lost file.||Data recovery software|
|Physical damage||Out of all common types of data loss, physical damage is the most difficult to recover from. Why? Because it requires special tools and advanced skills—something most regular users don’t have.||Data recovery service|
|Malware||Experts estimate that thousands of new strains of malware are released every day. While some malware is relatively innocent and more annoying than dangerous, you may also encounter sophisticated ransomware capable of completely blocking access to important files or deleting them altogether.||Data recovery software|
|Hardware failure||Storage devices have advanced leaps and bounds during the last decade alone, but they’re still far from perfect, especially when it comes to their reliability. A single faulty resistor can cause your entire hard drive to become unreadable and impossible to recover at home.||Data recovery service|
|Software corruption||Modern software applications can do all kinds of wonderful things, but they are far from perfect. In fact, the more complex software applications become, the more bugs they can hide. In extreme cases, software bugs may even corrupt important files and make them inaccessible.||Data recovery software|
|Theft||As far as data loss threats go, computer or device theft assumes a special status because you can’t really recover data from a device you no longer have. That’s why the prevention of data loss using local or cloud backups is so important.||Local or cloud backups|
Best Data recovery Software of 2022
1. Disk Drill Data Recovery (Windows & Mac)
Disk Drill Data Recovery is a leader among data recovery software, it can recover deleted files from your device even if you have a bad, unreadable or lost partition.
With Disk Drill, you can easily recover photos, videos, music files, files from internal or external drives, USB flash drives, and SD cards. The Mac version also supports iOS and Android recovery.
- You can recover up to 500MB of data for free with Disk Drill for Windows.
- Unlike any other, the app has two additional important data loss prevention features. The first, Recovery Vault, adds a layer to the Recycle Bin and maintains a backup reference for all deleted files. The second, Guaranteed Recovery, keeps a copy of each file moved to a selected folder, such as the Recycle Bin.
- Furthermore, Disk Drill allows users to create image files as ISO, IMG or DMG files. Thus, in practice, it allows the user to search for data in a clone, without taking additional risks with the original source. This feature is particularly important in forensic science.
“Disk Drill is an excellent free file recovery program, both because of its long list of features and its exceptionally easy-to-use interface.” – Tim Fisher, lifewire.com
In short, Disk Drill is not only free and comprehensive, but also the best data recovery software. It has been confirmed by numerous independent reviewers on the Internet and in print publications. CleverFiles, the developer of Disk Drill, has been around for many years and is a respected technology provider based in the United States.
2. EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard (Windows & Mac)
EaseUS Data Recovery Assistant is not just another data recovery software, but also an easy-to-use application, with a Windows Explorer-like interface and a simple three-step data recovery process.
This application is free to recover data up to 500MB (at the moment). It works on internal and external hard drives, USB drives, memory cards, and various types of partitions. It is not clear if it is as reliable in partition recovery as Disk Drill.
- Group deleted files with tags for easier recovery;
- Much improved fat recovery quality;
- Recover up to 2GB of data for free by clicking the Share button.
“Fast and reliable performance. It recovers many files that other products could not recover during testing. Simple classification of deleted files and specific file types ”- Edward Mendelson, pcmag.com
In summary, EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard presents a convenient option for occasional data loss. If the user needs additional recoverability, the developer offers a paid upgrade that gets additional functionality.
3. Recuva (Windows)
Developed by Piriform, Recuva can recover permanently deleted files, which have been marked as free space by the operating system.
This free data recovery software can work on hard drives, pen drives, memory cards, MP3 players, and other storage devices that support FAT and NTFS file systems. The application is available in 32-bit and 64-bit versions. After the developer joined a larger company, the app hasn’t been updated for several years.
In addition, Recuva is available in installable and portable form. The portable version has the advantage of not having to run the risk of overwriting data still present on a hard drive and therefore losing additional megabytes due to its own deployment.
Recuva is a freemium application, which means that its functionality can be improved by acquiring a commercial license.
- Free and unlimited data recovery with the standard version;
- Deep scan mode for hard to find files;
- It is available in a portable version.
“Recuva is attractively priced and easy to use, although it can’t go as far as more expensive data recovery software. – Edward Mendelson, pcmag.com
In summary, Recuva presents a good option for both casual and frequent users who need a robust application for data loss recovery.
4. TestDisk Data Recovery (Windows & Mac)
The free TestDisk solution only applies to partition recovery. It is a command line tool that supports many operating systems and file systems. The app is still supported by its developer and is available in a bootable version.
- Extended operating system and file system support;
- Recovers partitions, boot sectors and file tables;
- It has a starter version.
Overall, TestDisk is a very specialized tool that will not meet the needs of average users who experience data loss inadvertently. The functionality of this software can further damage potentially recoverable data when used by insufficiently trained individuals.
5. Minitool Power Data Recovery (Windows)
Minitool Power Data Recovery offers users a comprehensive data recovery tool that supports more than 100 different file types. The application can restore lost and deleted data from many types of storage devices with a three-step recovery process.
A free version of the tool can be upgraded with monthly, annual, or lifetime subscriptions. Preview selected file types before recovery and select designated folders to scan for faster performance.
- Recover up to 1GB of data for free;
- Intuitive user interface for simplified recovery;
- Technical support available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Overall, the Minitool Power Data Recovery tool is the next recommended choice among the best free data recovery software applications available, thanks to its inherent efficiency and simplicity.
6. DMDE Free Edition
DMDE Free Edition, or to give you its full title, DM Disk Editor and data recovery software, helps you recover files from your hard drive that you lost due to accidental deletion, hard drive problems, virus attacks or other misfortune. serious. This is the free edition of a program for which there are paid versions, so it’s no wonder there are some limitations, but none should put you off.
DMDE is a portable application that runs directly from a USB drive, which means you don’t need to install it and you run the risk of overwriting the data you are trying to recover. The program also goes beyond file recovery, giving you the ability to find and recover drives and partitions that, for one reason or another, have become invisible to Windows.
If you’re feeling particularly adventurous, you can even venture into disk edit mode or rebuild RAID configurations as part of your disaster recovery program.
All in all, if you can get past the ruthless interface, this is an essential file recovery tool that could save you a big headache.
7. Stellar Free Data Recovery Software
Stellar Data Recovery is one of the best data recovery tools we’ve used, with highly customizable searches, a huge library of file types, and deep analysis capabilities. However, while there are several payment plans available, there is also a free tier available.
Stellar Free Data Recovery software offers up to 1GB of free data recovery for Windows and Mac users. This allows users to recover deleted, lost and unavailable items from hard drive, USB flash drive, or almost any other storage device. Otherwise, all advanced data recovery tools are available.
Overall, Stellar Data Recovery is a great file recovery tool with powerful advanced options for businesses. In its simplest form, it allows anyone to recover lost data from computer or external storage device. Paid subscriptions are a bit pricey, but the free software’s impressive performance and easy-to-use interface are worth it.
The only concern would be if 1GB of free recovery is enough for your needs, but if so, it would definitely be worth considering one of the paid tiers as an alternative.
8. PC Inspector File Recovery
PC Inspector File Recovery goes further than many data recovery tools, by detecting partitions that have been lost even if the boot sector or file system has been damaged or deleted. It could save your life in an emergency, which could help you recover data even if your hard drive is not visible in Windows.
Newbies may find the terminology and layout of PC Inspector File Recovery intimidating, and even some more advanced users may find the workflow a bit confusing at first. Take the time to browse and you will find a powerful data recovery program that seems to work best with FAT and FAT32 drives.
How to choose the best data recovery software
You should never use data recovery software without first carefully evaluating whether it really is the best tool for the job. At best, you could be wasting precious time. In the worst case scenario, it could ruin your chances of recovering your deleted data.
When selecting file recovery software, look beyond screenshots and outrageous marketing claims and consider the following criteria:
Since your ultimate goal is to recover all deleted files, data recovery performance is by far the most important selection criteria that you should pay attention to when choosing the best software. Some apps can only recover data from Recycle Bin that has not been emptied, and these apps are significantly less useful than those capable of recovering permanently deleted files that are no longer present in Recycle Bin.
Support for file types
The software should be able to restore all commonly used file types including audio, video, images, documents, executable files, archives, and backups.
File system support
Data loss is not limited to traditional spinning hard drives, it affects all storage devices including modern SSDs, USB drives and memory cards. Since you can never know which storage device you will need to recover next, you should choose a data recovery application that can recover lost data from file systems intended for internal and external storage devices including NTFS, FAT, FAT32, exFAT, HFS +, APFS, poste2 / 3/4 and others.
Compatible operating system
Unless you don’t mind using another operating system just to recover your deleted data, you should select a tool that is compatible with your main operating system. Fortunately, there are a lot of great options for Windows and Mac users, and even Linux users have a number of options to choose from.
All good data recovery software solutions should have several features, such as the ability to preview deleted files before recovery, the ability to recover only specific files, and the ability to recover data from faulty devices, partially illegible or lost. To divide.
Just because you can download and install an app for free, doesn’t mean that you can also use it to recover deleted data without paying. When selecting the best data recovery software, it’s a good idea to start with a certain budget and prioritize the apps that match it. When comparing prices, keep in mind that some apps are subscription-based (meaning you’re billed monthly / year) and some offer a lifetime license and sometimes even lifetime updates.
The last thing you want is to install a tool that is infected with malware or created by someone who doesn’t know how to safely retrieve deleted files. That is why you should stick to popular solutions with lots of positive reviews online and lots of happy users.
As a result of exhaustive testing of the reviewed applications, we are convinced that Disk Drill is the best free data recovery software. The impressive set of features and technical support for novice users give CleverFiles an excellent rating. Remember that you can not only recover your lost data, but also protect your existing files from accidental deletion.
What is data recovery tool?
Data recovery software is a type of software that enables the recovery of corrupted, deleted or inaccessible data from a storage device. This software reviews, scans, identifies, extracts and copies data from deleted, corrupted and formatted sectors or in a user-defined location within the storage device.
How can I recover my data files?
To Restore That Important Missing File or Folder:
1. Type Restore files in the search box on the taskbar, and then select Restore your files with File History.
2. Look for the file you need, then use the arrows to see all its versions.
3. When you find the version you want, select Restore to save it in its original location.
What are the 3 types of backups?
There are mainly three types of backup: full, differential, and incremental. Let’s dive in to know more about the types of backup, the difference between them and which one would be the best fit for your business.