Data loss is something none of us want to have to encounter, but you would be surprised at how unexpectedly it can strike, whether due to accidental deletion, hardware failure, system crashes or other types of irredeemable corruption in files structures or software systems. Few of us are prepared for such an eventuality, but with some forethought, you can take precautions for a range of eventualities in case the worst should happen.
Our contributors have tested out a range of data recovery software for their own daily work. These tools are designed to navigate the labyrinthine layers of storage devices, locating fragments of lost data and reassembling them into coherent files. In this article we've taken a look at the best data recovery software solutions on the market to help you make an informed choice. We present the pros and cons of each software, highlighting their key features and limitations. For more storage solutions, see our pick of the best external hard drives and the best cloud storage for creatives.
+ Wide file format support
+ Deep scan option
- More expensive than other options
Stellar Data Recovery offers extensive file format support and a user-friendly interface, which simplifies the recovery process even if you’re not well-versed in how to best use data recovery software. The deep scan option ensures thorough retrieval from even severely damaged storage, although this can be time-consuming. There’s a free version with limited data recovery size. More advanced features come at a premium cost.
Best for quick recovery
+ Quick scan option,
+ preview feature
- Slightly more limited deep scan, complex pricing tiers
We liked EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard's quick scan option, which can swiftly recover more recently deleted files. The preview feature is also a nice touch, allowing verification of recoverable content before restoration. The software effectively recovers data from formatted drives, but we found the deep scan capabilities might not match some of the other options on this list. The extensive pricing structure can be confusing.
Best for versatility
+ Multiple recovery algorithms increase chance of success
+ Comprehensive file preview
- Limited online support
Disk Drill stands out with its multiple recovery algorithms, enabling various recovery methods depending on the file type - it also features a comprehensive file preview feature, which aids in selecting relevant files for recovery. The software also includes preventive features like the recovery vault, though the free version has limitations on size and file type,
Best for novices
+ Simple interface
+ Easy to install and get going
- Limited file support and no official customer support
This is the best data recovery software for those who aren't technically-inclined since it has a straightforward interface that's great for users with minimal knowledge. The deep scan option ensures thorough retrieval, and the portable version allows recovery without installation, although its file format support is limited, so we’d consider this a more basic option for users who want to recover single files rather than lots of data.
Best for video
+ Clean, straightforward design
+ Wide device compatibility and advanced video recovery
- Relatively expensive
With enhanced photo and video recovery mode, Wondershare Recoverit may be best suited to creatives and content creators. It has a user-friendly interface and compatibility across various devices with a claimed 95% success rate. It’s a strong piece of software. As with many others, there’s a recovery limit on the free version. The pricing structure compared to competitors feels quite expensive.
Best for advanced users
+ Capable of recovering data from NAS devices
+ RAID support
- Steep learning curve
R-Studio is heavily tailored towards advanced users, offering a wide range of features including network recovery and RAID support, with a number of highly customisable parameters so you can dig deep into broken or corrupt drives. This makes for a steep learning curve, and the complex interface might deter novices. The software's high price point could also be a drawback.
+ Step-by-step recovery
+ Lifetime updates
- slower scanning speeds and poor file organisation
We like the step-by-step system in MiniTool Power Data Recovery, which guides users through the process. The software offers versatile scanning options and provides lifetime updates for purchased versions. However, recovery speeds might be slower and as it’s a simpler piece of software recovered files could lose their original organisation.
What is data recovery software?
Data recovery software are programs that use your data backups to restore deleted, corrupted or inaccessible files and systems to an uncompromised state. It scours a storage device to look for recoverable data that may have been deleted, corrupted or formatted. Note that the results vary depending on the type of storage device, operating system and the reason why
recovery is needed. No data recovery software is perfect - if a file has been partially overwritten there are high chances that usable recovery may not be possible, but if it hasn’t been so long since you deleted the file, there are much better chances that the data is recoverable.
How should I choose the best data recovery software?
There are a few things to look out for when considering data recovery software as a safety net for your precious files - firstly, think about what kind of data you’d be looking to recover - documents and files can sometimes be easier to relocate than larger files such as photos and videos, so have a look at each of the software’s individual capabilities to look at it’s capabilities to recover a large range of different file formats. It’s also worth having a think about the interface you’ll use to recover such files, as well as its general usability and your own technical know-how - there are some distinctly easier to use versions than others.
How we chose the best data recovery software for this list
Creative Bloq has over a decade of experience in reviewing and testing software and hardware for creatives, from laptops, tablets and storage solutions to software for illustration, video editing and more. As part of that, we have reviewed a range of data recovery solutions. We've based our choices for this guide on our own reviews, recommendations from contributors a detailed comparison of stated specs and customer reviews available online.