There are many free data recovery software products available on the Internet. Some products are freeware while others offer free trial downloads of the tool for evaluation. We’ve put together a list of the 5 best data recovery tools of 2024 that can be downloaded and tried for free.
Quick Glance: Data Recovery Software Testing Statistics
|Number of tested tools
|How long we tested
1. Disk Drill Data Recovery (Windows & Mac)
Disk Drill Data Recovery is an undeniable leader among data recovery software, it can recover deleted files from your device even if it is crashed, formatted, or has lost a partition.
With Disk Drill you can easily recover deleted photos, videos, music files, and documents from internal or external drives, USB flash drives, SD cards, etc. The Mac version supports iOS and Android recovery as well.
In our tests, Disk Drill achieved a perfect usability rating of 100% as well as a best-in-class recovery performance rating of 90% (Windows version) and 95% (macOS version). It stood out as an excellent RAW image and video file recovery tool, with support for file formats used by virtually all major camera manufacturers, including Canon, Nikon, Olympus, and others.
- You can recover up to 500MB of data for free with Disk Drill for Windows.
- Unlike any other, the app has two important additional data loss prevention functionalities. The first, Recovery Vault, adds a layer to the Recycle Bin and keeps a backup reference to all deleted files. The second, Guaranteed Recovery, keeps a copy of each file moved to a previously selected folder, as for example the Recycle Bin.
- In addition, Disk Drill allows users to create image files in the form of ISO or DMG files. Therefore in practice, enables the user to conduct the data search in a clone, without taking any additional risk with the original source. This functionality is of particular importance in forensic science.
“Disk Drill is an excellent free file recovery program, both because of its long list of features and its exceptionally simple-to-use interface.” – Tim Fisher, lifewire.com
Disk Drill. Best recovery software I ever purchased. Just helped me out of a potentially massive hole and/or a reshoot.— Alfie Goodrich 📷 (@AlfieJapanorama) October 4, 2023
Doesn’t happen very often where I get a data error. But, when it does, this software has saved my bacon each time.
Thanks, Disk Drill.
Summarizing, Disk Drill is not only free and comprehensive but also the best-buy data recovery software. It has been confirmed by plentiful independent reviewers on the Internet and printed publications. CleverFiles, the developer of Disk Drill, has been around for many years and is a respected technology provider, based in the USA.
2. EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard (Windows & Mac)
EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard is a great alternative to our top pick because it offers a similarly smooth user experience and a three-step easy file recovery process.
This app is free for recovering data up to 2 GB (for the time being). It works on internal and external hard drives, USB flash drives, memory cards and various types of partitions.
Our tests have revealed that EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard can scan a storage device very quickly and recover a praise-worthy quantity of files from it—even during scanning. Unfortunately, the speed of recording found files to a safe destination is much slower, so the total time to recover lost data isn’t as impressive as it would be otherwise.
- The success rate of recovery is excellent when retrieving data from storage devices that use the NTFS file system and average when it comes to FAT32 and exFAT file systems;
- Group deleted files with Tags for simpler recovery;
- Recover up to 2 GB of data for free for clicking the share button.
“Fast, reliable performance. Recovers many files other products couldn’t recover in testing. Easy sorting of deleted files and specific file types” – Edward Mendelson, pcmag.com
EaseUS Data Recovery, I swear to God, is the MVP of data recovery for when SD cards just go nuts (definitely not because I eject them without doing so properly)— dave (@ddryan) December 11, 2019
In brief, EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard presents a practical option for casual data losses. If the user needs extra recovery capacity, the developer offers a paid upgrade that gains extra functionality.
3. TestDisk Data Recovery (Windows & Mac)
TestDisk is a freeware solution that shines the most when it comes to partition recovery. It is a command-line tool that supports many operating systems and filesystems. The app is still supported by its developer and is available in a bootable version.
When we evaluated TestDisk, we knew that the tool’s purpose is to recover lost partitions and found that TestDisk excels in these areas. What many don’t know is that it can also recover loss data from FAT12, FAT16, FAT32, ext2, and NTFS filesystems.
- Wide operating system and filesystem support;
- Recovers partitions, boot sectors, and file tables;
- Has a bootable version.
Have you tried PhotoRec from Testdisk? I have successfully recovered all my video files several times from both SD cards and harddrives using it- on one occasion I did have to pair the broken video files back up but it wasn’t too painless. It’s free (but you should donate!)— Rachel Sarah 💙 (@rachelsarah_m) April 26, 2020
Overall, TestDisk is a very specialized tool that will not serve the needs of average users suffering from inadvertent data loss. The functionality of this software can cause additional damage to potentially recoverable data when used by individuals with insufficient training.
“As a free partition and file recovery solution, TestDisk and PhotoRec does everything a domestic user might expect.” – Sofia Elizabella Wyciślik-Wilson, techradar.com
4. Recuva (Windows)
Developed by Piriform, Recuva can recover permanently deleted files, which have been marked as free space by the operating system. Recuva is a freemium app, meaning that its functionality can be enhanced by acquiring a commercial license.
This free data recovery software can work on hard drives, USB flash drives, memory cards, MP3 players, and other storage devices supported by FAT, exFAT, and NTFS file systems. The app comes in 32-bit and 64-bit versions. After the developer joined a bigger enterprise, the app hasn’t received a major update in several years (only small bug fixes).
Despite not being significantly updated for a long time, Recuva still offers plenty of value, as confirmed by our tests of the software. Yes, its recovery performance is below average (the software achieved only 31% of success), but its free price tag and great usability make up for it.
The premium version of Recuva adds support for virtual hard drives and automatic updates, and its users also receive prioritized customer support. If that doesn’t seem like a lot, then that’s because it isn’t—premium versions of competing products offer a lot more. But at least the paid version of Recuva is inexpensive.
- Unlimited free data recovery with the standard version;
- Deep scan mode for hard-to-find files;
- It’s available in a portable version.
“Recuva is attractively priced and easy to use, though it can’t dig in quite as deeply as higher-priced data recovery software.” – Edward Mendelson, pcmag.com
Apparently a few weeks ago I deleted a bunch of #files, hours of work, for the next audio book that I thought had been copied to a different folder, but they were nowhere to be found! I found this #Recuva #software that seems to have recovered all the deleted files. Whew!— Matthew Barron (@authorMBarron) September 4, 2018
In summary, Recuva presents a good choice for both users, casual and frequent, that require a solid app for data loss recovery.
5. R-Studio (Windows, Linux, macOS)
R-Studio is our last top recommendation for free data recovery software, and it differs from the previous ones in one important aspect: its target audience are IT professionals and power users who can appreciate its comprehensive and potentially confusing features while navigating its uninviting user interface.
Its support for all major operating systems, including Windows, Linux, and macOS (even older versions like Windows 2000), makes R-Studio a highly versatile data recovery software application that can handle just about any file system you throw at it.
R-Studio also isn’t afraid of RAID configurations, and its powerful RAID reconstruction module can fix broken arrays that many lesser recovery tools would find unfixable. It can also address the most unique data loss scenarios thanks to its support for custom file types and professional data recovery hardware like the DeepSpar Disk Imager and USB Stabilizer.
When testing R-Studio, we closely examined its performance across multiple criteria and found it to be better than average in most situations, earning it a recovery performance score of 64%. The tool was held back mostly by its average RAW file format support.
- Unlimited recovery of files that are less than 256 KB large;
- Capable of recovering files remotely on client computers;
- Cost-effective lifetime licenses are available.
“R-Studio for Windows is a respectable data recovery software application that deserves the attention of all data recovery professionals and advanced Windows users.” – David Morelo, pandorarecovery.com
”I would try out R-Photos, by the same people as R-Studio. It’s free, or at least a 30-day unlimited trial. If it gives you a good result, go with it.” – Zorb750, reddit.com/r/datarecovery
Overall, R-Studio is a valuable tool for those who require advanced data recovery options. However, its complexity might pose challenges for average users who want to address common problems with data loss as painlessly as possible.
Comparison of the 5 Best File Recovery Software
|Best Data Recovery Software
|Built-in Data Protection
|1. Disk Drill
|iPhone & iPad data recovery; Android data recovery
|500 MB for free
|Multiplatform lifetime license
|2. Easeus Data Recovery
|Image files and documents repair supported
|2 GB for free
|Portable version available
|Free plan without customer support
|Windows, Mac, Linux
|Windows, Linux, macOS
|Recovers files smaller than 256 KB
|Subscription + lifetime licenses
- PhotoRec is a powerful free file recovery tool that can be used to recover photos, videos, documents, and other files from SD cards, making it a versatile alternative to the above-recommended solutions. With its signature advanced file carving capabilities, it is able to sort through data fragments scattered across memory cards and can bring back lost files, deal with fragmentation in JPEG files, and more. What’s more, it doesn’t require no installation and is available to use from any platform with no cost or license required.
- DMDE (DM Disk Editor and Data Recovery Software) is an advanced data recovery tool with a robust set of features, including extensive file system compatibility, RAID reconstruction, and a high-speed scanning and recovery process. Despite a complex interface and a steep learning curve, its professional-grade utilities and affordability make it a solid choice for tech-savvy users. Additionally, it offers a free trial, allowing potential users to evaluate its performance before purchase. However, it lacks user-friendly features like intuitive scanning, session management, and real-time recovery during scans, making it less suitable for beginners.
- Minitool Power Data Recovery (Windows) offers users a comprehensive data recovery tool that supports over 100 different file types. The application can restore lost and deleted data with an intuitive three-step recovery process. A free version of the tool (capable of recovering up to 1 GB of data) can be upgraded with monthly, yearly, or lifetime subscriptions to unlock corrupted video recovery and other premium features.
- Windows File Recovery, developed by Microsoft, is a freeware command-line tool for data recovery on Windows 10 and 11, supporting NTFS and signature-based scanning. Despite its basic interface and limited file system compatibility, it offers a straightforward solution for simple data recovery scenarios, as evaluated in our review.
- DiskGenius (Windows) In our 2024 test, DiskGenius stood out for its advanced data recovery and disk management capabilities on Windows, offering partition management and disk cloning. Its freemium model provides basic features in the trial, with paid versions ($69.90-$699.90) unlocking extensive recovery options for various file systems. Despite its comprehensive functionality, including EXT2/3/4 and virtual RAID recovery, the software’s complex interface may challenge non-technical users.
How We Test Data Recovery Software
At CleverFiles we employ a rigorous and comprehensive testing methodology to evaluate data recovery software. This process is designed to assess each tool’s effectiveness in real-life scenarios so that we can base our recommendations on verifiable results. Here’s a quick overview of how we test:
- Dataset preparation: First, we gather a wide range of file types, including images, videos, documents, file archives, and more, to cover a wide range of data loss scenarios.
- Storage device preparation: Next, we use the dataset to prepare a storage device for testing. Typically, we create a virtual hard drive (VHD), utilizing tools like Windows Disk Management and WinHex, and then simulate real-world data loss situations.
- Recovery attempt: We then scan the prepared storage device using the data recovery software we’re testing. If the recovery tool offers multiple recovery modes, we test them all separately.
- Recovery results and process analysis: With the recovery process completed, we can analyze the quantity and quality of recovered data. We also evaluate the recovery process in terms of ease of use.
- Scoring and ranking: Based on our findings, we score each software for its performance in recovering various file types and overall user experience, as well as other factors, which are detailed in the next section.
How to Pick the Best Data Recovery Software
You should never use a data recovery software application without first carefully evaluating whether it’s really the best tool for the job. At best, you might lose valuable time. At worse, you might ruin your chances of recovering your deleted data.
When selecting file recovery software, look beyond screenshots and extravagant marketing claims and consider the following criteria:
Since your ultimate goal is to get back all deleted files, file recovery performance is, by far, the most important selection criteria you need to pay attention to when selecting the best software. Some applications can recover data only from the Recycle Bin that hasn’t been emptied, and such applications are significantly less useful than those capable of retrieving permanently deleted files that are no longer present in the Recycle Bin.
📸 Files System Support
Data loss isn’t limited to traditional spinning hard drives—it affects all storage devices, including modern solid-state drives, USB flash drives, and memory cards. Since you can never know which storage device you’ll need to recover next, you should pick a data recovery application that’s able to recover lost data from file systems intended for both internal and external storage devices, including NTFS, FAT, FAT32, exFAT, HFS+, APFS, ext2/3/4, and others.
💻 Operating System Supported
Unless you don’t mind using a different operating system just to recover your deleted data, you should select tool that supports your main operating system. Fortunately, there are many great options available to Windows and Mac users alike, and even Linux users have several solutions to choose from.
🏞 File Type Support
The software should be able to undelete all commonly used file types, including audio files, video, images, documents, executable files, archives, and backups.
✅ Set of Features
There are several features all good data recovery software solutions should have, such as the ability to preview deleted files before recovery, the ability to recover only specific files, and the ability to recover data from devices that are failing, partially unreadable, or have lost a partition.
Just because you can download and install an application for free doesn’t necessarily mean that you can also use it to recover deleted data without paying. When selecting the best data recovery software, it’s a good idea to start with a certain budget in mind and prioritize apps that fit into it. When comparing prices, remember that some applications are subscription-based (which means that you get charged every month/year), and some offer a lifetime license and sometimes even lifetime updates.
The last thing you want is to install a tool infected with malware or created by someone who doesn’t know how to recover deleted files securely. That’s why you should stick to popular solutions with plenty of positive online reviews and many satisfied users.
As a result of extensive testing of the reviewed apps, we are confident in naming Disk Drill the best free data recovery software. The impressive feature set and technical support for the first-time users score high for CleverFiles. Remember, it can not only recover your lost data but also protect your existing files from being deleted accidentally.