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).
Which Parameters Did We Prioritize When Evaluating Software?
We focused on the parameters that are most important when using image recovery software:
- ⚡ 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.
- 💰 Freeware & free trials: As this post focuses on free solutions, we will discuss any limitations of the freeware 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.
Top 10 Best Photo Recovery Software
|🔢 Number of tested tools||10|
|📅 How long we tested||2 weeks|
|💻 Our OS versions||Windows 11 Pro, macOS Monterey|
|🏆 Winner||Disk Drill|
1. Disk Drill Photo Recovery (Windows & Mac)
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.
- Advanced scanning algorithms that recognize over 400 filetypes
- 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
Restrictions on the free version: 500MB Free recovery for Windows, Free preview of recoverable data for macOS.
2. Recuva (Windows)
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.
- Unlimited free recovery
- Two GUIs for advanced and novice users
- Can securely erase files
- Good scanning speed
Restrictions on the free version: No limits on free recovery
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 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.
- Supports recovery on disk-based storage and SD cards
- Free unlimited recovery
- Many file signatures supported
- Good recovery results
- Freeware updated yearly
Restrictions on the free version: Freeware tool with an unlimited free recovery
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. Undelete 360 Photo Recovery (Windows)
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.
- Free unlimited recovery of recently deleted files
- Can securely erase files from your computer
- Found file tree graphically displays deleted and lost files
Restrictions on the free version: Free unlimited recovery
5. Data Rescue 6 (Windows & Mac)
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.
- Supports many filetypes
- Duplicate file recognition
- Recovery file preview
- Time Machine compatibility
Restrictions on the free version: Limited to recoverable file preview
6. TestDisk (Windows, Mac & Linux)
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.
- Bootable version is available
- Reliable partition recovery
- Recovers boot sectors and file tables
Restrictions on the free version: Freeware with unlimited file recovery
7. MiniTool Power Data Recovery (Windows & Mac)
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.
- A bootable version is available
- Fast scanning speed
- Can scan damaged DVDs and CDs
Restrictions on the free version: Can recover 1GB with the free version
8. Wise Data Recovery (Windows)
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.
- Deep scanning capability in the paid version
- Fast scanning performance
- Automatic updates
- Premium technical support in the paid version
Restrictions on the free version: Free unlimited recovery with quick scanning
9. Recoverit by Wondershare (Windows & Mac)
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.
- Supports over 1000 file formats
- Deep scanning capability to find long lost files
- Recoverable file preview
- Free remote technical support
Restrictions on the free version: 100MB free recovery for Windows, free preview for Mac.
10. Mac Data Recovery Guru (Mac)
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.
- Uses content-based scanning for file recovery
- Performs satisfactory image recovery
Restrictions on the free version: Free version only allows a preview of recoverable files
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.
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.