When you delete a file on a PC, the operating system doesn’t actually delete it but puts it in the Recycle Bin. Even if you empty the Recycle Bin or delete a file with Shift+Del, the file is not erased. Only information about its location in the file system is deleted (so that the operating system can use this location to store other data in the future). As long as new information has not been written on top of deleted files, they can be recovered by reading and recognizing the contents of the media bit by bit.
You can also read: Best Data Recovery Software for SSDs
The main problem is large files that can be written to the file system in fragments (so regularly defragment disks) physically spaced across the file system. Even if the recovery program counts individual pieces of information, it will not combine them into a single whole since it does not know which part belongs to what.
Similarly, if the structure of logical volumes is corrupted or when file systems are formatted quickly. Only the structure of the file system is written to the disk. The files themselves are not deleted. They are not taken into account when working (new information is written on top of the old one). Therefore, the same bitwise reading of the contents can save the situation.
All these manipulations are easily performed with the help of appropriate software without the need for the participation of any specialists. In this detailed article, we will learn about the top 3 Data Recovery Softwares for Windows and MAC.
1. EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard – the best data recovery software
|Year of the first release:||2004|
|Supported platforms:||Windows, macOS|
|Ease of use:||Easy|
|Supported systems:||FAT, exFAT, NTFS|
EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard is software from one of the most prominent players in the data recovery industry. The first release took place in 2004. Now the number of users worldwide exceeds 200 million people. The program is used in more than 160 countries, and the interface is translated into many languages, including Russian.
The most popular desktop platforms are supported – Windows and macOS, there are solutions even for mobile devices.
“Fast, reliable performance. Recovers many files other products couldn’t recover in testing. Easy sorting of deleted files and specific file types” – Edward Mendelson, pcmag.com
EaseUS Data Recovery, I swear to God, is the MVP of data recovery for when SD cards just go nuts (definitely not because I eject them without doing so properly)— dave ryan (@ddryan) December 11, 2019
EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard is only a part of the software tools provided by the development company. There are also utilities for backup, disk management, a video editor, and other software.
- The program can be installed on the Windows or MacOS operating system.
- You can create bootable media based on WinPE. The latter option is most desirable if the lost data is stored on the system disk (there is a possibility of them being wiped with system files or the system may be damaged/ blocked by a virus).
- System requirements are minimal: less than 40 MB of disk space, 1 GHz processor, 1 GB of RAM and Windows XP or lower.
- Supports many file systems, including those used for Linux (ext2/3/4) or for removable drives (flash drives or memory cards).
- It can work with RAW disks (in the complete absence of a file system) and with deleted/damaged partitions. Therefore, you can recover data from any type of media, even from RAID arrays.
- It is possible to repair “broken” videos and images.
- EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard can recognize several hundred different file formats.
- When scanning, you can set up filtering and recover data without stopping the process.
- It is possible to preview the files before recovery.
- The free version has limitations: you can not create bootable media, you can restore no more than 2 GB of information (but you choose what exactly you need to restore). Moreover, to get all 2 GB, you will need to share the experience of using in social media by the button from the program, without this you get only 500 MB.
- The version for macOS does not yet have a Russian-language interface.
Data recovery in the above limit can be completely free. For larger volumes and additional functions, you need to pay for the Pro version:
- from $69.95 – you can recover any amount of data + professional technical support;
- from $99.90 – additionally there is access to the function of creating bootable media.
2. Recuva – a free software to reanimate files from hard drives and flash drives
|Year of the first release:||2007|
|Ease of use:||Easy|
|Supported systems:||FAT, exFAT, NTFS|
Piriform Recuva is a small shareware utility with closed code, distributed by the developer of another well-known software: CCleaner. Among the supported platforms, only Windows is listed. For the first time, the program was presented in 2007, the last update – in 2017. However, Recuva also works on modern versions of the OS, including Windows 10.
“Recuva is attractively priced and easy to use, though it can’t dig in quite as deeply as higher-priced data recovery software.” – Edward Mendelson, pcmag.com
Apparently a few weeks ago I deleted a bunch of #files, hours of work, for the next audio book that I thought had been copied to a different folder, but they were nowhere to be found! I found this #Recuva #software that seems to have recovered all the deleted files. Whew!— Matthew Barron (@authorMBarron) September 4, 2018
The interface is as simple as possible. There are two scanning modes, like many paid competitors: fast and deep. The software can recognize many file formats and offers data search in selected locations (directories, logical volumes, etc.).
- Minimalistic utility with free use.
- Payment will be required only for access to specific functions (work with virtual disks, automatic software upgrade and professional technical support).
- There are no restrictions on the volume to be restored.
- The program is embedded in the context menu of the recycle bin and explorer.
- There is additional functionality, for example, you can reliably delete files (so that they can no longer be restored – the information is immediately erased on top).
- The interface has been translated into Russian.
- According to numerous reviews, Recuva does not cope with all tasks, the quality of recovery sometimes leaves much to be desired, especially with large files (video, images, audio).
- The utility does not know how to repair “broken” content.
- Found files can be seen and recovered only after the scanning process is stopped.
- A special recovery wizard, which runs when the program starts, interferes rather than helps.
- The utility collects data about users (in accordance with the user agreement).
- The last update took place back in 2017.
If you are not satisfied with the conditions of the free version of the utility, you can switch to the PRO-version:
- Recuva Professional –$15.96 per year.
- CCleaner Professional Plus (a set of 4 programs from the developer, including Recuva Pro) – from $19.95 per year.
3. Disk Drill – software for recovering deleted files
|Year of the first release:||2010|
|Supported platforms:||macOS, Windows|
|Ease of use:||Easy|
|Supported systems:||FAT, exFAT, NTFS|
Disk Drill is another professional solution from a significant market player. The developer is CleverFiles (508 Software, LLC). For the first time, the software was introduced in 2010, and it all began exclusively with the Macintosh platform. The version for Windows appeared only in 2015. Currently, the company’s software products are used by more than 500 thousand people around the world.
“Disk Drill is an awesome free file recovery program, both because of its long list of features and its exceptionally simple-to-use interface.” – Tim Fisher, lifewire.com
@Cleverfiles Just used Disk Drive Pro and recovered an important audio file for an extremely important client video. When you don't need it, you dont. But when you really do, so glad to have it. Especially when dealing with video and YouTube— Christine Kaaloa 🎥👊🐾 (@grrrltraveler) January 13, 2020
Disk Drill is a comprehensive solution for data recovery. The program can create an image of the current disk for subsequent analysis, protect information from erasure during the OS’s operation, and implement several additional functions (but so far only in macOS).
- Built-in tool for monitoring the status of the hard disk.
- Disk Space Cleanup tool on Mac.
- Find duplicate files (Windows plans only).
- Possibility to create a boot disk.
- Create a disc image and burn it to removable media.
- Recovery Vault data overwrite protection tool.
- Support for any removable media, including smartphones, cameras, etc., and file system types.
- The interface is translated into Russian.
- There is the possibility of previewing files, searching and filtering search results.
- There is a free version of the software.
- Many additional functions, such as finding duplicates, recovering data from smartphones, creating bootable media, etc., are implemented only for the macOS version.
- The free version is very limited in terms of the amount of recoverable data (no more than 500 MB).
- The Windows version takes up a lot of space and takes a long time to install, pulling additional software out of the network.
- The license is lifetime, but when a new version of the program is released, it must be purchased again.
After the trial ends (Basic version), you can choose a paid license:
- PRO – $89 (+$29 for lifetime upgrades), for 1 user only;
- Enterprise – $499 (+$99 for lifetime upgrades), designed for 10 users and any number of activations.
Upgrading from the old version to the new one without lifetime updates is provided with a 50% discount.
How to choose a data recovery program
Since the information is deleted on the device, it is essential to understand all the circumstances of the incident: which operating system the device is controlled by, what version and bitness of the OS, on which file system it runs, whether or not there is a shadow backup, whether the partition structure is preserved or not, whether there is a failure in the hardware, for example, an error reading disk blocks or a virus blocker in the system, etc.
From each of these factors, it is necessary to build on them. Some versions of programs are designed exclusively for Windows. Some can be cross-platform. Some allow you to create self-contained boot disks and run without an operating system (which is preferable). If the file was deleted from the Recycle Bin, simple utilities such as Piriform Recuva and analogs could easily cope. But if the file is large, for example, a video or image, then when restored, they are likely to be damaged. Here it would be best if you chose professional software, such as EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard.
Can I recover data from a hard drive or flash drive by myself?
Self-service media recovery is the preferred option. If you seek help from specialists, they will do precisely the same – install a specialized program or use a ready-made boot disk, scan and restore the necessary information.
The help of a pro will be justified in the most non-standard situations when you have a mechanically damaged or simply faulty carrier on your hands. For example, in this case, you can try to use a donor device and “transplant” a spindle with disks on it. The disk will not last long, but you can try to read the data. And so on.
Otherwise, you can act independently. The main thing is to choose the right software and do everything as carefully as possible:
- do not record new information after deletion;
- data during recovery do not copy to the same disk, it is better to use additional media;
- for the best result – to run a deep scan (here you need to be patient, since the operation takes a very long time).
If you have difficulties with the configuration – refer to the official documentation. And if the software is paid, it is better to go straight to technical support (this service, in most cases, is included in the price).
Conclusions and Recommendations
It should be understood that Data Recovery programs do not just have to do a lot. It would be best if you also used them correctly. Yes, there are paid and free Data Recovery programs, with open and closed source, only for Windows, Mac, cross-platform, etc. But even super-crafted software can be useless if it is used differently than the developers intended.
At such moments, you begin to understand why it is better to choose paid solutions with technical support enabled. Moreover, the value of the recovered information can sometimes be much higher. Whether it is worth saving in such situations – everyone decides for himself.
I hope this article about the top 3 Data Recovery Softwares for Windows and MAC was helpful. If you have any questions, please comment below.