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The best data recovery software

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By Jon Martindale


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If you accidentally delete important files or photos, it can feel like all hope is lost. Fortunately, if you lost files to a failing hard drive, or accidentally deleted them, data recovery applications may help you get them back.

Before downloading and running any recovery software, you should stop using the drive if possible. The only operation you should use it for — especially if it’s potentially going to fail soon — is to make a backup of the entire drive to a secondary drive. You also should consider calling on the help of a professional data recovery company, as no software is going to work if your drive fails entirely. The same goes for if you lose data from a modern SSD, which are notoriously difficult to recover data from.

The best

Stellar Phoenix Data Recovery

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Stellar Phoenix

Compatible with internal and external storage, physical media, and even cameras, Stellar Phoenix Data Recovery is considered by many to be the best data recovery tool available today. It can recover lost partitions, data from encrypted drives, image entire disks to preserve data away from potentially damaged media, and even create a system startup disc in the case your system fails to boot.

Available in both MacOS and Windows versions, Stellar Phoenix Data Recovery is available for free if you want to see what files it can find, but you will have to pay for the privilege of actually recovering them. Prices for a single system start at $80, but the $100 Premium package offers repair tools for corrupted videos and photos. RAID data recovery is reserved for Technician level customers, who would have to spend as much as $200 for the privilege.

It might not be the cheapest option out there, but Stellar Phoenix Data Recovery is your best shot at recovering anything from just about anywhere.

The rest

EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard

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EaseUS might have a lot of different applications on offer, but they are all related to storage in some way or another. Whether it’s preemptively backing up files, or recovering them later, its main focus is keeping your data safe and its Data Recovery Wizard is one of the best tools for helping you find any that you’ve lost along the way.

With the ability to recover files following hard drive damage, lost partitions, virus attacks, and more, it can recover more than 1,000 different file types, so whatever you’ve lost, it stands a good chance of being able to get it back. Better yet, there’s a free option. f you’re only looking to recover a small amount of data, or want to try it out before committing to a paid-for option, give it a try.

The Pro version will set you back $70, but gives you unlimited data recovering and free technical support for life, as well as upgrades to new versions of the software as its released.

Recuva

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A popular choice for many, but not quite as fully featured as some of the other entries on this list, Recuva is a longstanding name in the file recovery business. Developed by the same company as CCLeaner, Recuva can un-delete files, recover them from damaged or formatted discs, find deleted music on your MP3 player, or go the other way and permanently delete files for you to erase them forever.

Arguably the biggest selling point with Recuva though is its simplicity. While it has a strong feature set, there aren’t a number of tiered versions for you to pick from and no paywalls to hide the best features that you need. The basic, free version will still be able to recover files and folders for you, but if you pay the (comparatively cheap) Professional license fee of $20, you’ll get automatic updates, premium support, and support for virtual drives.

If you have files that you simply must recover and you’re willing to pay for it, we’d probably recommend one of the other solutions on this list, but if you’re on a budget, Recuva may get the job done.

Kroll Ontrack

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Kroll is a company that offers its own professional data recovery service, so that should act as a real testament to the effectiveness of its data recovery software. Considered to be a more professional tool than some of the others on this list, it’s comprehensive and incredibly fast at recovering files from all sorts of file volumes. Compatible with both Windows and MacOS, you can even start and stop your file recovery as and when is convenient for you.

Some have complained about the interface for Ontrack not being the most intuitive, meaning that first time users may take a while to get to grips with it.

The basic free version will give you a 1GB recovery trial, while the $100 Home version makes that unlimited with most of the core features intact. For some of the more advanced features though, like raw recovery and creating an image of the disc you’re trying to recover from, you do have to pay for the professional version, which costs $140. For recovery from RAID, you’ll need to shell out for the Technician version, which will set you back $500.

Whichever version you pick, you can also order a CD backup of your recovery software for $10, should you run into boot issues with your affected system.

Clever Files Disk Drill

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Clever Files Disk Drill is another popular file recovery tool that comes in both free and paid-for versions. It supports laptops and desktops, as well as external drives, memory cards, and devices with mass storage of their own, like cameras. It has both MacOS and Windows versions and can recover just about every file type you can imagine.

One intriguing feature Clever Files has is the ability to protect files from being lost in the first place. Its “Recovery Vault” stores information about files that you delete, effectively acting as a secondary recycle bin. If you end up permanently deleting those files, Disk Drill can help get them back without needing to store the file in its entirety.

The free version limits you to 500MB of file recovery, but you can preview any number of files to get an idea of what may be recoverable before paying for the Pro version. It starts at $89 and gives one user the ability to recover from up to three devices. You can get 50 percent off of that though if you already own a competitor’s comparable-tier product.


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