There’s nothing worse than discovering that you’ve lost files, either because you mistakenly deleted them, or even because of a hard drive failure. It happens to most people at some point, and afterward, you quickly learn the need to set up some form of the sturdy backup solution.
However, even backups can fail for some reason or another, but whether it’s your first time or if it’s happened before it’s still a horrible situation to face.
While there are paid-for file recovery solutions available there are also some free ones that might be worth trying out first.
After all, if you just accidentally deleted some files you needed instead there’s a good chance you’ll be able to recover them from your hard drive and that Windows data recovery software might work for you.
Even still, note that some free data recovery software, while well-meaning, may not be powerful enough to do the job for more serious problems. So we’ve put together the best on the market so you can try and see which one works best for you.
Data loss can be considered in many forms – accidental deletion, hard drive failure, software bugs, data corruption, hacking, even a simple power failure can cause you to lose data. And, of course, there are more extreme cases, like when a hard drive is recovered from a plane crash; amazingly, some data recovery specialists can retrieve data from storage media that’s been almost completely destroyed.
Data recovery software can do an amazing job of getting your data back, but it’s risky, time-consuming, and sometimes may be expensive. The best measure you can take to prevent long-term data loss is the one we’ve been advocating for a long time: make lots of backups! Use a cloud backup provider, keep a backup hard drive in your home, and make sure you don’t get caught out by a power surge or accidental formatting. And take steps to save from file corruption in the first place.
When files get removed most file system does not erase their data instantly. (unless you run a command like a shred or overwrite data with some tool). They remove their meta-data information.
So these data will remain on the drive until they get overwritten by something else. If you format or clean the drive, they won’t wipe out whole drive. Recovery software find your lost files by scanning:
“Quick Scan” performs a quick scan on the selected existing volumes, lost volumes, and on removable media. You can select only one folder at a time for the normal scan. This scan method is fast and effective. You will find almost all data by performing a normal scanning on the selected folder or removable media.
“Deep Scan” utterly scans your entire drive to carry out a precise recovery of all recoverable data. This option proves to be valuable when the results obtained by “Normal Scan” are average or unsatisfactory. You will see this deep scanning option once the normal scan process finishes. If you don’t get your data with normal scanning, then you can directly divert to “Deep Scan” mode.
Quick scans take just seconds, but deep scans carefully examine your entire drive for recoverable files. That can take hours or even days. The scan may find thousands or tens of thousands of files, and that’s your next time sink. Finding the right one is like looking for a needle in a haystack.
Act fast! The longer you wait, the more chance you’ll overwrite your data. First, create a disk image as a backup—many recovery apps can do this. Then run a quick scan, and if necessary a deep scan.
There are many scenarios where you need Windows data recovery software.
Some of the general cases are:
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.
A common issue with a lot of these Windows data recovery tool is that the rescue tools support very limited file types. A data recovery becomes resourceful when it supports the restoration 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 abundant 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 Windows data recovery software 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 data 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 Windows data recovery from the competition is its compatibility with all popular Windows versions, like Windows 10/8/8.1/7/Vista/XP. Compatibility reflects the 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.
The Stellar Data Recovery price tag runs ahead of the most other Windows data recovery tools, though is in line with the rest of our top three. However, based on our experience with it, no other tool justifies its cost as much. We ranked this tool number one due not only its lovely wizard and exceptional performance, but because its feature list easily outpaces the competition.
You get all of the basic options you should expect from any data recovery tool, including both quick and deep scan modes to recover deleted files and lost or inaccessible partitions.
In our tests, Stellar successfully recovered all of our “accidentally” deleted files and recovered a deleted partition. A quick scan got our files back and ran in just a few minutes. Deep scans of a 518GB partition and our 1TB hard drive ran a bit on the long side compared to PC analogs put out by EaseUS and Cleverfiles, but outpaced most of the rest of the field easily.
In addition to recovering data from your computer hard drive, Stellar does the same for external hard drives, USB flash drives, SD cards, and even optical storage solutions.
Standout features not commonly offered include the ability to scan by file type and sort by file type when your scan finishes. While most file types are supported, you can even define new ones by giving the tool a few samples to learn from.
A big miss worth pointing out: RAID storage recovery requires an expensive “technicians” license.
Recuva, a lightweight freemium file recovery software from Piriform, that helps you recover deleted data from storage media. The free version of the software offers some of the most basic data recovery options that can help you restore recently deleted data.
Its wizard-like interface makes file recovery quick and is supported by Windows 10 and earlier versions.
However, during installation Recuva attempts to download other programs to your operating systems. It uses a Dark Pattern to force you to install those unnecessary add-ons.
Recuva uses military-standard detection algorithms to retrieve or delete files as required, so you don’t have to worry about company information ending up in the wrong hands. Moreover, the software automatically updates itself, another useful touch.
The professional version currently costs $19.95 and gives you access to regular updates. There’s a free version too, but it doesn’t come with customer support.
Keeping things subtle and simple, EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard Free is the most friendly, accessible face of retrieving lost files. Run the program and you’re displayed with a screen asking which drives you would like to scan to recover data – you then just need to push the Scan button. There are no options to figure out, but if you know exactly know from where a file has is missing, you can identify a folder to scan to speed things up.
Results are shown in an Explorer-style window which is easy to navigate, but unluckily, there is no gesture of the quality of files that have been found – although a viewing option is available before starting retrieval process. You can then choose the files you’re interested in, and recover them.
It’s nothing more than that the free version of the program only allows you to recover up to 2GB of data (500MB by default, but this can be extended from within the program) before you have to upgrade to the premium version. While this is not enough for a comprehensive hard drive recovery, it should be enough to help you to get back your most crucial files when you need to.
Remo Data Recovery has been developed by Remo Software, founded in 2011 With Remo File Recovery software, you can recover lost and deleted files from corrupt, formatted, and deleted partitions.
However, Remo Data Recovery lacks behind in terms of the user interface. It is simple and easy to use but the response time is significantly slow. Scans are faster but intermediate processes are slow. Other than that, the software works well at recovering your crucial files and folders with feature such as overwrite-protection, compress recovered files, multiple files system support, and custom file recovery option.
The software supports FAT32, NTFS5, NTFS, exFAT, HFS, HFS+, and HFSX file system and facilitates resume recovery at later stages along with overwrite-protection.
Tenorshare UltData – Windows Data Recovery came on fifth.. It is a professional data recovery tool that supports both Windows and Mac. It can recover data from over 50 different storage media and over 550 file types with just 1 –click.
Be it a corrupt system or an accidental human deletion, it can just about recover anything and that too fast and safe. The interface is very simple and intuitive as well. You can filer, pause and continue the recovery process whenever you need and all of the options will be available right on the main interface and, not to forget the ease of using the software.
R-Studio software finds its place in the top 10 owing to its reputation for being a great long-term solution against periodic data loss, i.e. recurring losses over a period of time. The interface is rather on the high-end.
R-Studio is widely accepted as the most powerful data recovery app available for Mac, Windows, and Linux. The Data Recovery Digest put seven leading apps through a barrage of tests last year, and R-Studio came out on top.
This incredible AnyRecover solution for SD card recovery software helps you recover any lost or deleted data with maximum simplicity and speed. It is wonderfully useful for any situation.
There are many causes iMyFone AnyRecover is counted in the list of best Windows data recovery tool. Not only does this tool have the highest successful data recovery rate, but it is also highly efficient when it comes to recovering any kind of deleted data.
It is suitable for both beginner and advanced users because of its user-friendly interface and powerful data recovery modes. Available for both Windows and Mac, AnyRecover has a trial version which you can install to check the software’s capability before making a decision to buy the full version.
Recoverit is a premium file recovery software from Wondershare that helps you retrieve all types of lost and deleted files/folders such as pictures, videos, archives, documents, etc. The software helps you salvage data from deleted, corrupt, and formatted volumes.
The software supports the recovery of many file types from multiple file systems. After the scan, you can preview the files and save them with just a few clicks.
However, there is no overwrite protection and the software lacks the option to image disk. Additionally, there is no support for encrypted storage media either
Prosoft recently came out with its latest release – Data rescue 5 that offers much faster file recovery with improved user-interface. There is also a free version of Prosoft Data Rescue 5, named as Deleted File Finder which only lets you find the files that can be recovered.
The Prosoft Data Rescue supports RAID recovery and facilitates RAW recovery along with duplicate file recognition feature that helps you conserve space.
However, the software lacks a few important features that help in secure and faster recovery such as the option to resume recovery at a later stage, overwrite protection, signature-based file recovery, and support for encrypted storage media.
MiniTool Power Data Recovery Free is the only program in this round up which provides you with essential advice during the installation: do not install the tool to the drive you want to restore data from, as you may overwrite data.
This version is free, but there are premium edition available as well, so you will perceive that there are a few limitations. You can only retrieve 1GB of data, you don’t have the option of saving scan results to view later, and a few other features are missing – but there’s wholly nothing that stops this from being an amazing free recovery utility, aside from the occasional ad here and there.
You can restrict scans to specific files types, and MiniTool Power Data Recovery Free is able of getting files back from partitions you are not even capable to see, and there’s support for removable drives including optical media.
We all have an idea that searching for the best Windows data recovery tool can be a frustrating and time-wasting task if you are trying each one on your affected drive in a hope to recover data. For successful data recovery, it is significant that you minimize disk usage as much as possible. This is important to reduce any further damage to the drive and the lost data.
Find a professional data recovery software for advanced data recovery attributes such as disk image, add-on SMART disk monitoring tool, etc. Or just stick with the Stellar data Recovery Standard version for basic data recovery needs such as deleted or formatted data recovery.
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