Disk Drill is the best free data recovery software for Windows because of its ability to effortlessly recover up to 500 MB of data of lost or deleted data from all internal and external storage devices, regardless of their file system.
Developed by the data recovery experts at CleverFiles, Disk Drill is the best choice for professional and casual home users alike, providing an exceptionally polished experience and best-in-class data recovery results. The latest version of the software can recover data in more than 400 file formats from a variety of storage devices and file systems using its advanced scanning algorithms.
Data recovery with Disk Drill is an intuitive process that doesn’t require any expert knowledge. You can filter scan results to find a specific file and preview it before recovery directly inside Disk Drill. If you need to shut down your computer, you can simply pause the scan and resume it later.
The free version of Disk Drill can recover up to 500 MB of data of data, and it provides enhanced data protection with its Recovery Vault and Drive backup features. Both of these features are just as easy to use as the data recovery portion of Disk Drill because they share the same polished user interface.
Supports hundreds of file formats
Powerful recovery capabilities
Data protection and backup features
Intuitive user interface
Recovers up to 500 MB of data of data for free
Ability to mount scan results as a folder
No phone support
Average scan speed
PhotoRec has powerful file recovery capabilities and support for a wide range of platforms. Whether it’s a digital camera or a traditional hard drive, PhotoRec has you covered as long as you’re able to figure out how to use it.
Judging by its name, you might think that PhotoRec can recover only image file formats, but that’s not the case at all. In reality, this open-source data recovery software for Windows can recover more than 480 file extensions (about 300 file families) from hard drives, memory cards, CD-ROMs, USB flash drives, and other storage devices.
PhotoRec is known for scaring inexperienced users away with its text-only user interface, but we found the data recovery process to be reasonably self-explanatory. Sure, beginners could benefit from even more handholding, but that’s what the official documentation is intended for.
In terms of performance, PhotoRec can measure up to many paid data recovery software applications. It uses a non-destructive data recovery method, which prevents it from writing to the same storage device the user is about to recover from. In certain cases, PhotoRec can successfully recover even fragmented files scattered all over the place.
Compatible with all major operating systems
Recovers about 300 file families
Support for many file systems
Intimidating for beginners
All files are automatically recovered during scan
Unable to restore file names and folder structure
Designed to recover lost partitions and make non-booting disks bootable again, TestDisk is an excellent solution to many desperate data loss scenarios, but its text-only user interface puts it out of the reach of many users.
If you’ve accidentally and permanently deleted an important file, and you desperately want to get it back, TestDisk isn’t the right choice. This open-source data recovery application doesn’t focus on individual files but entire file systems and partitions. It can fix partition tables, repair boot sectors, and do many other things to restore access to lost files.
It’s true that TestDisk can undelete files from FAT, exFAT, NTFS, and xt2/ext3/ext4 file systems, but this functionality is tucked away inside the advanced menu, where most regular users never go. Besides, recovering individual files with TestDisk is extremely cumbersome because you can’t preview files before recovery.
But despite its shortcomings, such as the lack of an intuitive graphical user interface, TestDisk remains one of the best data recovery software solutions for Windows and many other operating systems.
Capable of recovering many different filesystems and partition schemes
Broad operating system support
Free and open source
Lacks an intuitive graphical user interface - command-line only
Repairs damaged partitions and file systems but not files
For simple data recovery jobs, Recuva remains a solid choice even though its developers no longer work on updates and bug fixes.
In an alternative reality in which Piriform, the company behind the data recovery software in question, is still an independent software company, Recuva probably enjoys a higher place on this list. Alas, in the reality we live in, Piriform was acquired by Avast in 2017, and that’s also when Recuva was last updated.
Even though Recuva is starting to show its age, its recovery wizard still remains just as easy to use as when it was first released, saving you the trouble of going through complex menus and searching for the right option. You simply tell the wizard what type of files you want to recover and from which storage device and wait for the data recovery process to finish.
Recuva is able to find most common file formats without much trouble, but it often misses rarely used file formats, especially when performing a quick scan. Preview is available for some image file formats but not Microsoft Word documents or PDF files.
Easy to use interface
Secure file deletion functionality
Preview feature to view discovered files for recovery
Can’t recover as many file formats as some of its competitors
No longer actively developed
Lackluster support for raw photo recovery
One of the best data recovery programs in its price range, Wondershare works flawlessly with a wide range of storage devices, including camcorders, hard drives, memory sticks, and USB flash drives.
The company behind this data recovery software has been around for many years, and it has successfully earned the trust of millions of home users and many large companies. Recoverit is its flagship data recovery product, and it boasts support for over 1,000 file formats and all commonly used file systems, including NTFS, FAT, HFS+, and APFS.
Just like all other software applications from Wondershare, Recoverit is really easy to use, and we had to go through just three simple steps to recover our files. During the last step, we were able to preview recovered files before retrieving them with a single click.
The only problem is that the free version of Wondershare Recoverit can recover only up to 100 MB of data. That’s not much considering that a single high-resolution picture taken with a modern smartphone can easily have around 5 MB.
Supports many file formats
Sleek design and great usability
Compatible with Windows and Mac files systems
Can recover only up to 100 MB of data
Preview feature limited to a handful of file formats
Many duplicates in scan results
The only thing that can make the best free data recovery software for Windows even better is unlimited recovery, and that’s exactly what Disk Drill PRO has to offer, along with several other perks.
Just like the free version of this popular data recovery software for Windows, Disk Drill PRO stands out thanks to its smart data recovery algorithms capable of recovering hundreds of file formats from all storage devices and file systems.
For just $89.00, it offers unlimited data recovery and up to 3 activations. Users can purchase optional lifetime upgrades for $29 to reliably recover data even on future versions of the Windows operating system.
Despite the word PRO in its name, the paid version of Disk Drill is just as easy to use as the free one, so even inexperienced home users with no expert knowledge shouldn’t feel intimidated by it. Thanks to its one-click approach to data recovery and self-explanatory options, anyone can use Disk Drill PRO to recover lost or deleted files in no time.
Smart data recovery algorithms
Lost partition search
Support for all storage devices and file systems
Optional lifetime upgrades
No phone support
Isn’t available on Linux
Simplicity is what Data Rescue 5 is all about, but its steep price makes it prohibitively expensive for most home users, the demographic that would ironically most appreciate its clean and simple user interface.
Data Rescue 5 is a somewhat confusing data recovery software application because its clean and simple user interface (the main screen features just three large buttons with colorful icons and detailed descriptions) suggests that its target are regular home users, but its steep price tag and website tell a completely different story.
A single license (which can be used by one user on an unlimited number of systems) costs $299.00 a year. That’s more than twice as much compared with what most other competing data recovery software applications charge for a lifetime license.
If you can afford to pay such a large amount of money for Data Rescue 5, you can look forward to fast scan and recovery speeds, improved RAID recovery, and additional disk tools for byte-to-byte disk copies and secure file deletion.
Clean and simple interface
Can duplicate a potentially failing drive onto a healthy drive
Automatically determines a set of RAID configurations
Unnecessarily complicated multi-step recovery process
This comprehensive data recovery software solution is geared toward more experienced users who are able to appreciate its extensive options and powerful features.
Whereas most data recovery products on the market target regular home users, R-Studio is intended primarily for professionals who already understand the ins and outs of data recovery. It provides support for all commonly used file systems and partition layout schemes and handles even damaged or deleted partitions.
Instead of guiding users through the recovery process step by step, R-Studio gives them the freedom to start multiple data recovery jobs at the same time in separate tabs. Recovered files can be sorted by their extensions, creation time, modification time, access time, and other parameters. You can preview many supported file types or view files using the built-in hex editor to assess their integrity or perform partial recovery.
When buying R-Studio, make sure you get the right version. The least expensive version of R-Studio ($49.99) can recover data only from the FAT, exFAT, Ext2/3/4 file systems. To also recover data from NTFS, ReFS, HFS+, APFS, HFS, and UFS, you need to purchase the $79.99 version.
Advanced features for data recovery processionals
Available as a bootable ISO image
Disk sanitization feature
Not suitable for non-technical users
Doesn’t display results during scan
Can preview only a few file formats
Stellar Data Recovery is a professional-grade data recovery software for Windows that can deal with completely crashed and unbootable systems that many lesser applications of its kind would deem unrecoverable.
Previously known as Stellar Phoenix Windows Data Recovery, this data recovery software supports NTFS, exFAT and FAT (FAT16/FAT32) formatted hard drives, SSDs, USB flash drives, memory cards (including SD card, Micro SD card, CF cards, etc.), and other commonly used storage devices.
You can choose from two different versions intended for professional usage: Professional ($79.99 for one year or $99 for a lifetime license) and Premium ($99.99 for one year or $149 for a lifetime license). The former version is slightly cheaper because it doesn’t include any video or photo recovery capabilities.
Except for the missing recovery features, the two versions are identical and equally easy to use. Recovered files can be sorted according to their type or displayed in a tree view, which is useful for locating a specific folder.
Support for a wide range of storage devices
Easy to use
Useful preview feature
Slow scan and recovery speed
Glitchy store device selection
EaseUS has managed to garner a great deal of positive feedback across a wide spectrum of users, and our experience with its data recovery features has been similarly positive, which is why it deserves a place on this list.
EaseUS Data Recovery is a tried and tested data recovery software for Windows. Its developers have successfully made the complicated process of data recovery simple and accessible to anyone. There are no menus with multiple layers and options that require a lengthy manual to decipher what they mean.
When you begin data recovery with this software application, you’re first asked to select a location to scan, such as your hard drive or USB flash drive. You can also select a specific folder, including the Recycle Bin. Then, you simply click the Scan button and wait for EaseUS Data Recovery to find your files.
If your budget is tight, you can purchase EaseUS Data Recovery for just one month. However, we recommend you get a lifetime license for $149.95 to enjoy unlimited free upgrades.
Reliable data recovery performance
Lets users sort and filter delete files
Makes data recovery accessible to anyone
Includes unrecoverable files alongside recoverable files
Previews only files that are smaller than 100 MB
Doesn’t accurately display remaining scan time
Here are some of the critical aspects that delineate top data recovery software from the competition.
Security & Protection
This is invariably the first thing we check on any file that comes in .exe format. It needs to run smoothly through an antivirus filter to make sure there isn’t any malware. You can also try uploading the .exe file to Valkyrie, which scans it for potential threats.
Once the program is installed, you need to ensure that it exclusively performs read-only processes during the scan. It’s not desirable having a third party application writing additional content onto the drive from which you want to recover data.
Performance & Versatility
A common issue with a lot of these recovery apps is that the rescue tools support very limited file types. A recovery app becomes resourceful when it supports the restore of a wide range of file types; so, you can confidently restore pictures, videos, music files, and other file types.
Another unpleasant realization is that most of your programs do not support the recovery of files from external storage devices such as external HDD or USB flash drives. This is quite inconvenient as the major chunk of data loss these days occur on external or portable storage devices.
Time is something nobody has enough of these days. You can’t expect users to spend the whole day waiting for the scanning and recovering processes to finally get their hands on something urgent. Good performing data recovery software generally has options for high-speed scanning. And some even come with customized scanning while targeting a specific file for recovery.
Another important feature is to preview files that have already been identified. Also, the recovered files need to be in their original quality.
There’s no use of having the world’s best data recovery app if it can only be operated by the guy who made it. Simple interface and ease-of-use are essential to any app. A lot of recovery programs feature flashy icons and supposedly high tech features that are rather useless. The end user often only needs a well-defined interface that delivers the goods, period.
You also don’t want to see your recovery program crash after it’s been scanning your computer for over three hours. This can get frustrating. Of course, no program is perfect. Occasional minor glitches are expected, but a program that crashes every other time you use it just doesn’t justify the space it occupies on your system.
Yet another aspect that distinguishes a recovery program from the competition is its compatibility with all popular Windows versions, like Windows 10/8/8.1/7/Vista/XP. Compatibility reflects diligence of the creators in maintaining the app up-to-date.
It’s obvious that the end user who isn’t always technically-proficient require assistance while using the software. Hence, it’s a good idea for the user to have access to the support team via mail, phone or live chat.
Now that you have a good idea about what makes an awesome recovery program.