At some point, many computer users will need to make use of photo recovery software. It’s very easy to accidentally delete the wrong file or folder and you may need to use picture recovery techniques to get back some irreplaceable memories like wedding photos (or even a video).

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There are many paid and free photo recovery software solutions that can help you recover from an unexpected data loss scenario. We are going to take a look at ten tools that are available and give you some information to make an informed decision on which one is right for you.

Which Parameters Did We Prioritize When Evaluating Software?

We focused on the parameters that are most important when using image recovery software:

💰 Free trials

As this post focuses on free solutions, we will discuss any limitations of the trial versions of paid photo recovery tools. In the case of freeware products, the limit score will indicate the tool’s ability to reliably restore lost photos.

Speed

One of those is the scanning speed of the solution. You want a product that scans quickly and finds your valuable data effectively.

💡 Reliability

Another important factor is its reliability and ease of use, so we looked at those points as well.

🖼️ Supported file types

Your priority should be choosing a software application that supports the image file type you need to recover. This is especially important if your goal is to recover files associated only with, for example, specific digital cameras. That's why we focused on tools boasting a large number of supported image file formats.


Before moving on to our complete ranking, here is a quick recap of the best photo recovery software:

Top 10 Best Photo Recovery Software

Let’s see which photo recovery software applications made it to our full ranking.

1. Disk Drill Photo Recovery (Windows & Mac)

Disk Drill Photo Recovery Software

Disk Drill is a flexible and reliable photo recovery application that offers users a free trial version. The application sports a user-friendly interface that makes it easy for anyone to recover their lost photos.

Download Disk Drill Photo Recovery

Key Features:

  • Advanced scanning algorithms that recognize over 400 filetypes
  • Market-leading RAW image scanner
  • An intuitive user interface that provides recovery in a few clicks
  • Support for virtually all types of disk-based storage devices
  • Fast scanning and recovery
  • Deep scan to locate and reconstruct old deleted files
  • Free data protection tools

User Experience

Disk Drill is an excellent choice to recover deleted images on the Windows or Mac platforms. Its combination of functionality, intuitive interface, and free data protection tools make it the best data recovery solution for recovering lost images as well as any other type of data. The freeware version of the software lets you see how it can help you without costing you a cent. Highly recommended for users facing a data loss scenario.

Restrictions on the free version: 500MB Free recovery for Windows, Free preview of recoverable data for macOS.

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There’s more useful info about Disk Drill in our detailed review.

2. Recuva (Windows)

Recuva

Recuva is available as a freeware tool and also has a paid pro version. It offers Windows users a simple photo recovery tool that can be used to restore lost images on a variety of storage devices including CDs and DVDs.

Download Recuva

Key Features:

  • Unlimited free recovery
  • Two GUIs for advanced and novice users
  • Can securely erase files
  • Good scanning speed

User Experience

Recuva offers limited preview capabilities and its deep scanning procedures can only identify around 100 different filetypes. It can be a useful tool for recovering photos that have been recently deleted and is a nice option for securely erasing data from your system.

Restrictions on the free version: No limits on free recovery

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For more information about Recuva, read our review.

Though Recuva is a very good recovery tool for free, it is very slow and takes quite a lot of time in scanning and recovering the files. Since it is FREE, you can't complain about it being a slow tool. (Neeraj S, g2.com)

3. PhotoRec (Windows, Mac & Linux)

PhotoRec

PhotoRec is a freeware tool that supports lost photo recovery for over 480 types of files. It does not have preview capabilities and does not recover folder structure or file names. Additional storage is required to hold the recovery results.

Download PhotoRec

Key Features:

  • Supports recovery on disk-based storage and SD cards
  • Free unlimited recovery
  • Many file signatures supported
  • Good recovery results
  • Freeware updated yearly

User Experience

PhotoRec is worth a try as a freeware product but does not have the features of more viable options. The user interface is hard to navigate for typical users and there is no preview option. Experienced users may find the software useful for its wide filetype support.

Restrictions on the free version: Freeware tool with an unlimited free recovery

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Do you know that we’ve reviewed PhotoRec?

PhotoRec found a lot more accidentally deleted files on a FAT32 formatted drive than Recuva. Of course Recuva's interface is nicer but in the end it is recovering the data that matters. (CopyTrans, alternativeto.net)

4. Recoverit by Wondershare (Windows & Mac)

Recoverit by Wondershare

Recoverit is a paid recovery solution with versions available for Windows and Mac systems. It has several different licensing levels and offers a 7-day money-back guarantee. The tool supports many devices and file types for advanced recovery capability.

Download Recoverit

Key Features:

  • Supports over 1000 file formats
  • Deep scanning capability to find long lost files
  • Recoverable file preview
  • Free remote technical support

User Experience

Recoverit is a serviceable photo recovery solution that offers a user-friendly method of restoring lost data. The freeware version is very limited, forcing users to purchase the product to verify its usefulness in their situation.

Restrictions on the free version: 100MB free recovery for Windows, free preview for Mac.

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Our Recoverit by Wondershare review can be found here.

5. Data Rescue 6 (Windows & Mac)

Data Rescue 6

Data Rescue 6 is a professional grade photo recovery tool that has some excellent features as well as some functionality issues and restrictions on its standard version.

Download Data Rescue 6

Key Features:

  • Supports many filetypes
  • Duplicate file recognition
  • Recovery file preview
  • Time Machine compatibility

User Experience

Data Rescue 6 is an expensive solution for users who intend to use it often. The standard version only allows you to perform 5 scans, forcing many users to opt for the pro version which is quite expensive. Scanning can’t be paused or resumed and is slow compared to other data recovery tools.

Restrictions on the free version: Limited to recoverable file preview

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Do you know that we’ve reviewed Data Rescue?

6. Undelete 360 Photo Recovery (Windows)

Undelete 360 Photo Recovery

Here is another Windows-specific freeware photo recovery tool that may be able to get your images back safely. It does not have the deep scanning capacity of more reliable solutions.

Download Undelete 360

Key Features:

  • Free unlimited recovery of recently deleted files
  • Can securely erase files from your computer
  • Found file tree graphically displays deleted and lost files

User Experience

Users with Windows 7 or earlier systems can use this tool to recover recently deleted photos from their hard drives. Its lack of a deep scan feature makes it less useful for finding files deleted some time ago.

Restrictions on the free version: Free unlimited recovery

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For more information about Undelete 360, read our review.

7. TestDisk (Windows, Mac & Linux)

TestDisk

TestDisk is a freeware tool that is designed to recover partitions instead of individual files. It can be very useful if you have accidentally formatted a partition full of valuable images. TestDisk can also help restore damaged partitions, enabling their data to be preserved.

Download TestDisk

Key Features:

  • Bootable version is available
  • Reliable partition recovery
  • Recovers boot sectors and file tables

User Experience

This is a good tool for recovering full partitions but does not provide the capacity to restore individual files. It is a command-line tool with no GUI and requires knowledge of disk recovery to use successfully.

Restrictions on the free version: Freeware with unlimited file recovery

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There’s more information about TestDisk in our comprehensive review.

8. MiniTool Power Data Recovery (Windows & Mac)

MiniTool

Minitool is a paid image recovery application that offers users a free trial version of the software. It supports disk-based storage devices as well as CDs and DVDs.

Download MiniTool

Key Features:

  • A bootable version is available
  • Fast scanning speed
  • Can scan damaged DVDs and CDs

User Experience

This tool lacks reliable file preview support and has a tendency to crash while restoring large files. It does offer the ability to recover from DVDs or CDs which may be attractive to some users.

Restrictions on the free version: Can recover 1GB with the free version

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Follow this link to read an exhaustive MiniTool Power Data Recovery review.

9. Wise Data Recovery (Windows)

Wise Data Recovery

Wise Data Recovery is a paid program with a freeware version that is limited in functionality but not in the amount of data that can be recovered. You can only perform quick scans with the free version of the tool.

Download Wise Data Recovery

Key Features: 

  • Deep scanning capability in the paid version
  • Fast scanning performance
  • Automatic updates
  • Premium technical support in the paid version

User Experience

Wise Data Recovery can quickly find lost files but may not be able to restore them due to inconsistent recovery performance. During installation, it attempts to download other programs and users must manually uncheck boxes to avoid extra software they may not want.

Restrictions on the free version: Free unlimited recovery with quick scanning

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Don’t miss our comprehensive review of Wise Data Recovery.

10. Mac Data Recovery Guru (Mac)

Mac Data Recovery Guru

Here is a Mac-specific, paid photo recovery application that offers users a 100% money-back guarantee if not satisfied. The free trial version enables you to see what files the tool can recover before spending any money on it.

Download Mac Data Recovery Guru

Key Features:

  • Uses content-based scanning for file recovery
  • Performs satisfactory image recovery

User Experience

You need to spend money if you want a reliable Mac photo recovery solution. There are other applications out there that will provide more functionality and better recovery performance than the Data Recovery Guru.

Restrictions on the free version: Free version only allows a preview of recoverable files


Photo Recovery Software Picker

Free Photo Recovery Software Picker
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Do you need to recover lost photos but are not sure which photo recovery software to use? The form below is here to help you make the best choice possible based on your specific data loss situation. Please answer all questions as accurately as you can. Once you're done, click the View results button to see our recommendation/s.

On which device were the lost photos located? *
Which operating system do you use? *
Are you interested in paid data recovery software? *
Paid data recovery software typically offers better performance and more features than free data recovery software.
Do you need to recover raw image files? *
Do you consider yourself to be an advanced user? *
Are your lost photos stored on a physically damaged storage device? *
Please make sure to answer all questions before clicking this button.
We recommend:
Disk Drill logo
Disk Drill Photo Recovery for Windows stands out with its support for a huge number of photo file formats, including raw file formats. Its intuitive user interface makes it possible to recover lost photos with a few clicks, and the free version can preview an unlimited number of photos and recover up to 500 MB of data.
Disk Drill logo
Disk Drill Photo Recovery for macOS is the best data recovery software available to Mac users. By combining an intuitive data recovery process with powerful algorithms, it can reliably recover most photo file formats from all commonly used storage devices. The free version can preview an unlimited number of photos, and it comes with useful extra tools.
PhotoRec logo
As its name suggests, the main purpose of PhotoRec is to recover lost photos, and this open source and completely free application for Windows, macOS, and Linux is great at what it does. Its biggest downside is the text-based user interface, which makes it more intimidating than it would be otherwise.
Recuva logo
Recuva is a great choice for Windows users who want to recover a handful of photos saved in commonly used image file formats, like JPG and PNG. The photo recovery software can restore an unlimited amount of data for free, and its straightforward user interface makes it suitable even for Windows users who are not confident in their IT skills.
Professional Data Decovery Services
We don't recommend you attempt to recover lost photos from a physically damaged storage device because you could make the situation even worse. Instead, you should send the storage device to a professional data recovery center.
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Unfortunately, we were not able to find any solution matching your data loss situation.

Possible solution: If you're attempting to recover photos that were stored on a microSD card, then you can recover the card and recover it using popular Windows photo recovery software like Disk Drill. If the lost photos were stored in internal storage, then your best option is to obtain access to a Mac and use Disk Drill for macOS, which can recover lost data from both Android and iOS devices.
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Unfortunately, we were not able to find any solution matching your data loss situation.

Possible solution: If you can obtain access to a Windows PC or Mac, then we recommend you recover your lost photos using Disk Drill for Windows or Disk Drill for Mac.

 

Conclusion

As you can see from our review, free picture recovery software can sometimes get the job done. Free recovery software is either limited by functionality in the case of true freeware or in the amount of data trial versions allow you to recover.

In cases where a small amount of data has been lost, the free trial version of software like Disk Drill is all you need to get your data back. When larger amounts of data need to be recovered, you may be impacted by the limitations of free solutions and be better served by purchasing a paid license.

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Did You Know? You can often perform successful image recovery long after the files were deleted from your hard drive. This is because modern operating systems simply remove logical access when deleting a file. The photos still physically exist on a storage device until they are overwritten by new data. Data recovery software scans the storage device and recreates the logical links necessary to access the lost photos. Minimizing the use of the drive after file deletion increases the chance of a successful recovery.

FAQ

Robert Agar is the Content Writer & Managing Editor for Handy Recovery. Robert brings over 30 years of experience in data storage, security, compliance, backup, and recovery to the HandyRecovery team. Several years ago, he turned his attention from hands-on technical roles to develop a career as a freelance writer concentrating on technology and its impact on society. Areas of focus include the cloud, data recovery, artificial intelligence, and industrial automation.

Andrey Vasilyev
Editor

Andrey Vasilyev is an Editorial Advisor for Handy Recovery. Andrey is a software engineer expert with extensive expertise in data recovery, computer forensics, and data litigation. Andrey brings over 12 years of experience in software development, database administration, and hardware repair to the team.