What is Recuva? Recuva is a recovery tool made by Piriform Software for Windows, the same team who created the well-known computer cleaning application, CCleaner. It boasts the ability to recover lost or deleted files of any file type from any rewritable form of storage media.

There are a lot of recovery solutions available out there. How efficient is Recuva in recovering your lost data? Does it have any other useful features? In this Recuva review, we discuss everything you need to know about Recuva as a consumer, as well as our first impressions test driving the software.

ParameterValue
Recovery speed:Relatively slow. Slower when performing a deep scan. Of course, disk size will impact this.
Platforms:Windows only.
Price:Free version available. $19.95 for Recuva Professional.
Support:Official support only with Recuva Professional. Otherwise, you will need to use the community forum or official knowledge base.
Pros:
  • Free version available with unlimited recovery
  • Secure deletion feature
  • Portable version available
  • Clean, user-friendly interface
  • Filtered results
Cons:
  • Recovery isn’t as reliable as other, paid alternatives
  • No official support with the free version
  • Windows only

Main Recovery Features

Let’s look at what features you can expect to find inside Recuva. The below features are a mixture of what’s included with the Free version, as well as the Professional:

  • 📁 File recovery – As advertised on their website, you can recover any file type with Recuva from any rewritable storage media. This includes pictures, documents, and music from devices like USB sticks, SD cards, external drives, and more.
  • 💻 Virtual hard drive support – With the Professional version, you have the option of scanning for and recovering data from a virtual hard drive.
  • 🔍 Deep scanning – Can’t find what you’re looking for with a regular scan? The deep scan option provides a more in-depth look at your drive at the expense of longer scan times.
  • 🔐 Secure deletion – If you want to make sure a file can’t be recovered even after deletion, you can use Recuva’s military-standard deletion technique to securely overwrite data so it can’t be restored.
  • 💼 Portability – When recovering data, the last thing you want to do is install new software that could potentially overwrite your files. Recuva portable can be booted from a USB to recover your files without the risk of losing them.

Although not all features are included in the free version, you still have a lot of access to what Recuva has to offer.

How to Recover Data

Now that we know what to expect, let’s take a hands-on look at how to use Recuva. For the sake of this test, I deleted 7 JPG photos and 3 TXT files that contained lorem ipsum from my computer, as well as my Recycle Bin. I’m going to try and recover all of them.

The latest version of the Recuva software is v1.53.1087. It was released June 07, 2016. You can use the free version, or you can get Recuva Professional which includes automatic updates, official support, and support for virtual drives.
  1. Download the install file for Recuva. Open it.Downloading Recuva
  2. Click Install and wait for the tool to install. When installed, open it.Installing Recuva
  3. You’re met with a recovery wizard. I suppose this is intended to guide those who aren’t familiar with data recovery through the process. To proceed, click Next.Opening Recuva interface
  4. Since there are two types of files I’m trying to recover, I’m going to keep the All Files option selected and click Next.Selecting all file types for recovery
  5. I deleted all of the files from my Recycle Bin. Because of that, I’m going to select the In the Recycle Bin option and click Next.Specifying the search for files deleted from Recycle Bin
  6. Finally, you can begin the scan by clicking Start. Instead of starting the scan here, I’m going to press Cancel to see what the main interface looks like.Confirming the scan
  7. The main interface allows you to select what drive you want to scan. Once you’ve selected your drive from the dropdown menu, click Scan.Main Recuva interface
  8. As with any recovery tool, it’s expected to discover a lot of random junk files along with the files you want to recover. To find what I’m looking for, I filtered by Path and only selected files discovered from the Recycle Bin path. I’ve selected the files I want to recover by marking their checkbox. Now for recovery. Click Recover.Selecting files for recovery
  9. Choose where you want to recover your files. It’s recommended you choose a disk that’s different from the one you’re recovering from. Press OK.Choose the recovery location
  10. While reviewing the results, it appears the JPG files were only partially recovered as they cannot be opened. As for the TXT files, it recovered two successfully, but not the third.Reviewing the recovered files

Of the 10 permanently deleted files, only 2 of them could be recovered successfully. My first impression is that, while Recuva does technically work, it’s not as efficient as other recovery tools available on the market.

Interface and User Experience

Recuva interface

Recuva takes a different approach than most recovery applications, opting for a more guided experience rather than letting the user do it themselves. While you can choose to take full control, you’re first met with a wizard-like interface where you’re given options on what type of files you want to recover, as well as where you want to focus the recovery.

While many may find this tedious, it really feels like this is geared towards your average computer user who has no experience with data recovery. If you prefer having total control, you can jump straight into the main interface. This interface is clean and very usable. Some options, like deep scanning, are hidden in the Options section.

While there is no Recuva for Android, you can use Recuva to scan your smartphone’s SD card. However, it cannot scan the internal memory of the device.

Security and Privacy

Previewing the secure deletion feature.

Something that makes Recuva stand out from other recovery tools is its secure file deletion feature. Using industry-standard secure deletion methods, Recuva can securely overwrite data that would otherwise have a high chance of being recovered. This is useful if you want to securely delete data that may contain sensitive information.

You’re given the option of choosing between one of four different levels of secure deletion. Higher levels will take longer but ensure a more thorough result.

Pricing and Plans

In terms of pricing, it’s kept quite simple. There are two options to choose from: Recuva Free and Recuva Professional. 

Technically, commercial customers have the option of purchasing CCleaner Business and CCleaner Cloud, but we’re going to focus on the home use versions only.

The below table shows you which features are included with each version.

Feature

Recuva Free

Recuva Professional

Advanced file recovery

Virtual hard drive support

Automatic updates

Premium support

Price:

Free

$19.95

Of course, the majority of features offered by Recuva will be included with the Professional version only. But, the fact that it offers free unlimited recovery at no cost is very appealing to those who aren’t prepared to drop some money on a recovery tool.

Support

If you’re using the Free version, you won’t have access to any form of official support. Instead, Piriform recommends you use their knowledge base or community forum to troubleshoot issues. While this can be a pain if you’re facing a problem, it’s understandable considering you have free access.

For Professional users, you have access to priority support. Using your credentials, you can log into the CCleaner Priority Support section and get official, tailored help. Outside of this, though, there is no phone or live chat support.

Customers Review

Computer Fixperts says: 

“The Recuva program offers a great, affordable alternative to file and data recovery programs. It is the best option to try when the budget is tight and paid for a specialist is not accessible. It also is worth giving a shot before taking your drive into a repair shop, because it is possible that Recuva will be able to uncover the files that are desired from the comfort of their own homes and receive the same quality results.”

Mitchell Harvey says:

“I corrupted my hard drive and spent hours of downloading programs to recover files, before being shown ugly “Please purchase the full version” screens. This is the only program that I have come across that has a free version that is ideal for data recovery. Would recommend this to anyone and everyone that has corrupted their hard drive”

PCMag says: 

“We like Recuva for its low cost, its clear interface, and its ease of use, but it only recovered two-thirds of the deleted files on my test drive, and that kind of performance may not be good enough in a crisis.”

User from G2 says:

“It doesn’t do well with damaged partitions. You will most likely use it for files deleted on accident, not for full-scale recovery. You may find that this program will work for most of your issues. If you need something to help further, look at TestDisk & PhotoRec from cgsecurity.org.”

Final Verdict

Recuva definitely has the ability to recover your lost or deleted files. During our tests, it wasn’t able to recover the majority of the files we were looking for. Some of the files we did recover were corrupted so we couldn’t view them. However, being a free tool, it’s worth a try if you don’t have access to another recovery solution.

It isn’t my first choice if I was asked to recommend a data recovery solution. Compared to other options on the market, I feel that it’s lacking in terms of efficiency, as well as data-protection features that can help protect your data from future loss. But, for someone who’s looking to recover only a handful of files, I’d recommend it as a free solution.

The Competition With Other Tools

In comparison to other recovery tools like Disk Drill, Recuva is severely lacking. In addition to data recovery, Disk Drill offers the ability to create full byte-to-byte images of your drive for recovery at a later time with the Drive Backup feature. Additionally, the Data Protection feature allows you to select files that you’d like to keep safe in the event of unexpected data loss.

If you’ve invested in a recovery tool and found that it’s just not making the cut, you can switch to Disk Drill Pro and get a 50% off competitive discount.

While free unlimited recovery is great on the free version, reliability is a must. Other, more efficient tools already offer first-time users the option of recovering files up to a certain limit in order to trial their software. For example, EaseUS allows up to 2GB of free recovery before needing to opt for a paid plan.

Of course, you should also consider that you can only get Recuva for Windows. This means it can only scan and recover from Windows file systems. If you connect an external drive formatted with the HFS+ file system, you’ll be met with the message “Recuva unable to determine file system type”.

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Jordan Jamieson-Mane

Jordan Jamieson-Mane is a freelance content writer with a passionate interest in technology. Starting from a young age, this interest gradually turned into a career, with Jordan studying in the field of IT and moving into...

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Brett Johnson

This article has been approved by Brett Johnson, Data Recovery Engineer at ACE Data Recovery. Brett has a Bachelor's Degree in Computer Systems and Network, 12 years of experience.