At some point, many computer users will need to utilize photo recovery software. It's very easy to accidentally delete the wrong file or folder, and you may need to employ picture recovery techniques to reclaim lost memories that are irreplaceable, such as wedding photos, baby’s first steps, milestone birthday celebrations, or cherished family gatherings.
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:
⚡ Recovery rate
Recovery rate is the parameter we prioritized the most. It determines the overall effectiveness of each recovery tool in recovering lost or deleted photos from different file systems and data loss scenarios. As part of this, we also look at what scan modes are offered and their efficiency in recovering large amounts of data.
📁 Supported file formats
We prioritized software that supports a large number of photo file formats. Beyond the common photo formats like JPEG, PNG, and GIF, we looked at software that also specialized in recovering RAW formats used by professional photographers. Software that supports a wide range of photo formats gives you a higher chance of recovery, especially when your file system is no longer usable.
🔍 Preview functionality
To avoid recovering corrupted or otherwise useless data, we focused on recommending recovery solutions that include a preview function. Being able to preview your photos before recovery gives you a chance to confirm if they can be recovered, saving you time and storage space. It also proves the software is capable of recovering the files.
👍 Ease of use
In an effort to make sure all recovery solutions we present are usable for all users, we were sure to focus on software that’s easy to use and features a clean user interface that’s intuitive and includes clear, straightforward recovery steps.
💾 Compatibility with storage devices
The hard drive, SD card, USB flash drive, or camera you use for storage could use any type of file system, so we gave special attention to software that worked with various file systems for increased versatility.
Before we delve into our comprehensive ranking, let's quickly review the top picks for photo recovery software. Don't forget, you can also participate by casting your vote using the voting feature below.
Top 10 Best Photo Recovery Software
For this list of the best photo recovery software, we only included recovery tools that were able to deliver fast, cost-effective results. It’s important to note that this list does not go from best to worst. Rather, each tool excels in satisfying different needs, so the final decision rests on you and your specific requirements. Let’s take a look.
1. Disk Drill (Windows & Mac)
Disk Drill is a flexible and reliable photo recovery application that offers users a free trial with up to 500 MB of free recovery (Windows only). The application sports a user-friendly interface that makes it easy for anyone to recover their lost photos.
- Advanced scanning algorithms that recognize over 100 photo file formats (and over 400 others in total)
- An intuitive user interface with convenient, image-by-image previews
- Advanced filters and sorting features to isolate photos from other data
- Support for virtually all types of disk-based storage devices
Disk Drill is an excellent choice to recover deleted images on Windows or Mac platforms. The user-intuitive interface makes it super easy to scan, select, and recover your photos in just a few clicks. It utilizes several comprehensive scanning modes to ensure you recover as many photos as possible. The free version allows you to scan and preview your data, and Windows users have the added benefit of recovering up to 500 MB before needing to upgrade.
Restrictions on the free version: 500 MB free recovery for Windows, Free preview of recoverable data for macOS.
Last update: Disk Drill for Windows is currently on version 5.3.826, which was released on July 13, 2023. Disk Drill for macOS is currently on version 5.4.1425, which was released on December 22, 2023.
There’s more useful info about Disk Drill in our detailed review.
2. Recuva (Windows)
Recuva is available to Windows users as a simple photo recovery tool that can be used to restore lost images on a variety of storage devices including CDs and DVDs.
- Recover unlimited photos for free
- Two GUIs for advanced and novice users
- Limited, but functional preview window
- Good scanning speed
Recuva is a completely free photo recovery tool. While it doesn’t perform at the same level as professional recovery solutions, it’s a decent option for recovering recently deleted photos without having to open your wallet. It includes a simple but easy-to-use user interface and the ability to recover up to 100 different file types. We would recommend Recuva if you’re a beginner who’s looking for a quick, no-commitment solution that’s easy to get set up quickly.
Restrictions on the free version: No limits on free recovery
Last update: Recuva is currently on version 1.53.2096, which was released on June 13, 2023.
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. R-Studio (Windows, Mac, & Linux)
R-Studio is an advanced photo recovery solution that’s primarily geared towards data recovery professionals and specialists. Despite its learning curve, it offers a range of advanced recovery features that will help you recover plenty of your lost photos.
- Can recover more than 500 file formats
- Supports all major operating systems and file systems
- Includes a preview function and recovery chance prediction
- Rich with many advanced recovery features
In terms of recovering lost or deleted photos, R-Studio delivers great recovery results across all of its scan modes. Being an advanced recovery solution, the user interface is quite technical and may take some time to get used to, but the functionality the application offers makes it worth it. One limitation regarding photo recovery is the preview feature. It’s sluggish and doesn’t support a wide range of file formats, like RAW photos, for example. We would recommend R-Studio for those with a technical background that can benefit from the advanced features it has to offer.
Restrictions on the free version: Limited to recovering files smaller than 256 KB.
Last update: R-Studio is currently on version 9.3.191259, which was released on November 21, 2023.
Learn more about the software in our extensive R-Studio review.
4. Wondershare Recoverit (Windows & Mac)
Recoverit is a paid photo 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 photos
- Recoverable file preview
- Modern user interface
Recoverit is a good photo recovery solution that offers a user-friendly method of restoring lost data. For any photos that it cannot recover using the file system, it can instead use its very capable signature scanner that supports over 1000 file formats (although we found the more accurate number of supported file formats to be much lower). 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.
Last update: Wondershare Recoverit is currently on version 12.0.0, which was released May 11, 2023.
Our Recoverit by Wondershare review can be found here.
5. DMDE (Windows, Mac, & Linux)
DMDE (DM Disk Editor and Data Recovery Software) is an advanced photo recovery solution that allows you to quickly recover your lost or deleted photos from a wide range of data loss situations.
- Works with most operating systems and file systems
- Very fast scanning and recovery
- Can learn unfamiliar file signatures
- Includes additional file system utilities
During our tests, DMDE did an excellent job of recovering our data, especially photos. Its versatility in working with different operating systems and file systems makes it an invaluable part of any recovery toolkit. The user interface prioritizes functionality over aesthetics, as it’s a recovery solution intended for experts. One shortcoming is its limited preview function, which only supports a very small number of photo file formats.
Restrictions on the free version: Recover all files from the current panel (limited to 4000 at a time).
Last update: DMDE is currently on version 22.214.171.1246, which was released on April 6, 2023.
Learn more valuable insights about the program in our full DMDE review.
6. DiskGenius (Windows)
DiskGenius is a data recovery and disk management tool. Despite its busy user interface, it’s a very powerful data recovery tool with the demonstrated ability to recover your deleted photos with great efficiency.
- Good ability to recover various photo file types
- Allows you to select which file types to search for
- Many additional free features
- Can back up the partition table of your photo storage device
The results of our recovery tests with DiskGenius were very promising. It was able to recover a lot of our data, both by file system and file signature. As it doubles as a disk management tool, you get more functionality out of the program that’s useful if you’re regularly updating partitions to your data organized. However, the user interface is quite cluttered and does require some time to get familiar with.
Restrictions on the free version: Only files smaller than 64 KB can be recovered.
Last update: DiskGenius is currently on version 126.96.36.1998, which was released on March 8, 2023.
We go even more in-depth in our DiskGenius review.
7. Data Rescue (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
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
Last update: Data Rescue is currently on version 6.0.8, which was released on July 28, 2023.
Do you know that we’ve reviewed Data Rescue?
8. 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
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
Last update: MiniTool Power Data Recovery is currently on version 11.7, which was released on October 24, 2023.
Follow this link to read an exhaustive MiniTool Power Data Recovery review.
9. PhotoRec (Windows, Mac, & Linux)
PhotoRec is a free, open-source recovery tool. Despite its name, it can recover more than just photos. Unlike other recovery solutions that use a mixture of scanning methods, PhotoRec confidently relies on its ability to recover data by file signature alone.
- Excellent recovery results by file signature
- Hand-pick which file formats to look for
- Lightweight and portable
- Includes a very minimal GUI
PhotoRec was designed to be run through a Command Line Interface (CLI), only later receiving an optional Graphical User Interface (GUI) to make it easier to use for newcomers. Seeing as its strength is recovery by file signature, PhotoRec supports close to 480 file signatures. In our tests, it did an excellent job at recovering all types of files, but it had the most success with photos. PhotoRec is ideal if you’re looking for a free solution that’s also very capable.
Restrictions on the free version: None
Last update: The latest stable version of PhotoRec is 7.1, which was released on July 7, 2019. However, the 7.2 beta is also available.
If you’re interested in learning more, see our full PhotoRec review.
10. Stellar Data Recovery (Windows & Mac)
Stellar Data Recovery is a promising photo recovery tool with an attractive user interface that offers up to 1 GB of free recovery before you need to upgrade.
- Built-in photo repair functionality
- Excellent customer support
- Preview corrupted data in safe mode
- Can learn new file signatures
One feature that makes Stellar Data Recovery stand out from others is its photo repair function, which allows you to restore corrupted photos following recovery. The program also has a dedicated support team behind it who are willing to remotely access your computer if you run into issues. The application supports up to 300 file signatures out-of-the-box, but it can also learn new ones if you upload a sample file. In our experience, we found that the program occasionally crashed while scanning, which may be a point of frustration for some if it happens regularly.
Restrictions on the free version: 1 GB of free recovery.
Last update: Stellar Photo for Windows is currently on version 188.8.131.52, which was released in November 2023. Stellar Data Recovery for Mac is currently on version 184.108.40.206, which was released in June 2023.
Our Stellar Data Recovery review goes into more detail.
Here are some additional tools that didn’t quite make the cut for our main list but still have some considerable recovery qualities.
TestDisk is an open-source recovery tool that’s packaged alongside PhotoRec. It differs from PhotoRec in the fact that it focuses on recovering entire partitions rather than individual files. Although it is very useful in specific data loss situations, it didn’t make the list this time because it uses a complicated CLI which doesn’t give you a chance to preview your data before recovery, which we deemed very important for recovering photos.
DiskDigger is available for Windows, Linux, and Android devices. Even though it does have the ability to recover lost or deleted photos, the program is quite barebones and doesn’t offer much in the way of functionality. Therefore, we didn’t think it was comprehensive enough to make the list.
EaseUS is one of the most prominent data recovery tools on the web, due in large part to its very effective marketing. The software itself has many notable qualities, especially when it comes to data recovery. However, it’s quite costly and filled with intrusive pop-ups that are constantly trying to upsell you, which is why we didn’t include it.
Photo Recovery Software Picker
Revealing Market Trends: The Most-Searched Software to Recover Deleted Photos
We've curated insightful statistics that highlight the market distribution of software to recover deleted photos. This chart depicts the average monthly search volume for each brand, revealing consumer interest and brand popularity, from Recuva at the peak to lesser-known tools.
The data presented here is drawn from Google Ads, indicating the global average number of monthly searches. Brands with multiple name variations have been consolidated (e.g., Recoverit and Wondershare Recoverit). Note that the search popularity may not directly indicate quality, and some brands like Stellar Data Recovery may have restrictions on similar data in Google Ads.
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.
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.