Before we start explaining in-depth, you need not fear – recovering the data you deleted by accident (or intentionally) is not hard at all. The first step you need to take – stop transferring files from and to your PC or Mac or Linux based machine in order to mitigate the “damage” you already did by deleting.
To clarify, that’s because once you delete your files from any of your devices including PC, iPhone, or Android they aren’t gone forever – only the addresses linking to them are. However, if you start introducing new data to your system, they might actually take their place, which makes a recovery almost impossible. Without further delay, we present you a list of data recovery software for Windows, Mac, and Linux we think are best.
But, hold on…
I know you’re probably rushing to recover your important data. Don’t do that!
I’ll recommend you to go through this article thoroughly – unless you want to waste your time and money trying to recover something that’s not going to happen.
However, if you start introducing new data to your system, they might actually take their place, which makes a recovery almost impossible.
Fret not, if you’re curious about it, we’ll explain it to you how that happens along with some interesting facts about data recovery in general.
How Does Data Recovery work?
I’ll recommend you to recap what you read in the intro of our article. However, we’ll get into more details (with some technical jargons) to let you know how it really works. Yes, we mentioned that your deleted files are still recoverable unless you’ve written any kind of new information to the storage drive after data loss.
The files deleted still reside in your storage drive, you just lose access to the file. They still have a logical address which can be found using complex algorithms (here – using recovery tools). But, they can be easily overwritten by any piece of information written to the storage drive after data loss.
That’s alright. But, technically, the data recovery methods might differ depending on what caused the data loss in the first place.
Of course, the cause of data loss matters.
You need to be sure what caused the data loss before even trying to recover the files – unless you want to spend a lot of money without having a faint idea whether there’s hope for recovery or not.
So, let us take a look at some of the interesting facts and various causes of data loss.
Prevention Is Better Than Cure: Always!
I know you must be angry if you didn’t have a backup – but it should be your last time doing that.
Always take a backup of your files (cloud backup and an external backup drive).
Causes of Data Loss
Accidentally deleting the files: It is the most common type of data loss – on which we’re focusing here in our article. It’s easy to recover in this case – but given the condition of the state of the storage device after data loss (no new data should be written to it)
System Format: Recovery isn’t a 100% after formatting a partition or drive. It depends on what file system it utilized before erasing the data and what kind of data you transferred in after formatting the drive.
Suppose, you had NTFS as the type of partition – you will have good chances to recover data.
Also, not just the file system, even your operating system depends on how efficient or easy the data recovery process will be.
Personally, I think that recovering data from a Windows-powered system is relatively easy with high chances of success when compared to Mac or Linux.
- Logical Damage: Software failure and hardware errors often leads to logical damage of the storage drive. In this case, it’s highly uncertain whether you’ll be able to recover the data or not.
- Physical Damage: Physical damage might also lead to data loss. However, in such cases, I wouldn’t recommend you to try recovering the data on your own. Well, for experimental purpose, you can try it yourself with the help of the resources available online. But, if it’s about sensitive data recovery – which is worth something, you need to consult a professional to help you recover the data.
- Overwritten Data: When you overwrite something, it’s gone permanently and cannot be recovered.
Interesting Facts about Data Loss and Recovery
According to a number of sources, we get to know some interesting facts related to data loss and recovery.
Although, you shouldn’t consider it to be a solid statistic but more like an estimate.
Here they are:
- For almost 45% of the data loss cases across the globe, it is usually a hardware failure that causes it.
- 80% of the small businesses aren’t prepared for data loss situations.
- Device theft also counts as one of the situations where you might lose sensitive data.
- 90% of the users worldwide (among the common home users) do not have a complete backup of their computers.
- Ransomware is a major threat to data loss and recovery. If you don’t have your files backed up, you might end up paying a lot of money and still lose your files.
Best Recovery Software for Windows
This company really came on top in the recent years, especially because of the services they offer. Data Recovery is their specialty, and their support spans not only to Windows, which we appreciate in this case, but also to Mac OS, and smartphones in form of an app. The program itself is really easy-to-use and has a simplistic design to it. Even though the search goes really deep, it requires very little effort on your part – just choose where to search for data, specify formats (or choose All), and let it uncover the files you deleted.
Even if you haven’t heard of the software before, you sure know about the creators – Piriform, a company that created CCleaner, another tool you use. The best part – it’s completely free, and their trial version allows a wide variety of support for HDD, flash drives, and all common formats of media, documents and even e-mails. The process is pretty straightforward, just choose a partition at the top, and see what comes out in the end. Then, just check the files you want back and confirm – that’s it, the files are safe and secure!
Another great company with a plethora of tools and utilities for you to use on your Windows (and Mac) computer. They’ve just released the new version, 12.0, at the time this article was written, and it’s better than ever! They promise the recovery of data in three easy steps, and it’s true! Choose a location, start the search, and finally, after reviewing the data, click once to restore them back. Easy enough, right?
4. Disk Drill
We present you the next great option, and if you remember a software called Pandora Recovery, it’s been merged into a beauty that we call Disk Drill. It’s available for free, however, it allows only up to 500 MB of file restoration. The great thing about it – you can see what can be discovered on your computer, and if it’s up to your standards, consider paying just a little for an unlimited amount. And why wouldn’t it be? It’s precise, the wizard takes you through every step with explanations, and the end results are presented in an easy-to-read way. Great choice in our opinion!
Unconventional, but not in any way underwhelming. The program is lightweight, and even though it lacks a beautiful UI, the results are great, and best of all – it’s portable, so you can take it with you. That’s right, just open the EXE, and it’s ready to go. It even supports something like a file shredder, to permanently delete the files you really want to disappear for good. We recommend it for people with little technical knowledge, or if you’re traveling a lot, and can’t always use your own computer.
MiniTool is a company with many useful utilities under their belt as well, and you can choose MiniTool Partition Recovery if it’s a whole partition you need back. On the other hand, this one can recover up to 1 GB of data for free, which is still better than Disk Drill, for example. And it most cases, this should be enough. The bad thing – you need to install it, and like we already mentioned – more new data introduced into the storage can ruin the process of data restoration.
Wise Data Recovery is very lightweight, under 3.5 MB of size – and it certainly helps with the point we argued above – it’s fully-functioning in its portable version. Also, it’s backward compatible with older versions of Windows, which means even older PC’s files can be salvaged. The process is simplified as in all of these – choose the source, optionally add keywords to narrow down the search, and click Scan right next to it. Then, after files appear, choose those you want to transfer back to your PC.
Even though their website doesn’t give you much hope, as it possesses a rather simple-looking design, their software is in a league of its own. Not only does it support multiple languages if you aren’t an English native speaker, but the portable size version is under 1.5 MB! That’s the smallest we’ve seen, and it still manages to pack quite a punch. You can use any of the three recovery modes – Quick Scan, Deep Scan (scans free space only), and finally – Full Scan, which has the biggest chances of restoration but takes the longest, of course.
9. Undelete 360
We’re happy to mention that this one is carefully designed and planned out, taking only about 2 MB of space. Additionally, it supports every cause of disaster – accidents, virus infections, if an application deleted the file, so it doesn’t matter how you got into trouble, you’re in good hands with this one. The interface has that Windows 7 look to it, but it’s incredible when it comes to sorting found data into categories, allowing you to find them easily. Best of all – file preview is integrated into the program, allowing you to save time reviewing.
We’ve saved the hardest to use for the end. Although it’s still very convenient, and every step is explained inside – it just lacks a graphic interface. It’s an open-source program, being updated very often, and it’ll help save the partitions you lost. The other great possibility – non-booting disks can be fixed and rejuvenated back to health. The support for file types is great, and it supports not only Windows, but also Mac, Linux, and even DOS. In case you don’t mind an archaic, old-school look to it, and value efficiency, this might be the software for you.
Gihosoft iPhone Data Recovery is yet another data recovery solution to save the lost data from an iPhone. It is a professional data recovery solution and it can get back data like video, call history, note, contact, lost text message, photo, and much more from iPhone/iPad/iPod Touch.
Best Recovery Software for Mac
Softtpte isn’t the most popular recovery tool for Mac but I would recommend you try it because it does not have a recovery size limitation for the free version.
Usually, tools enforce recovery size limitation to ask the users to upgrade it to the pro version. But, here, only the types of file format supported is limited. For a certain type of files, you can recover as much as data you’d want to without paying any additional fee.
To be precise, the free version supports an unlimited recovery of pictures and MP3 files. It should be enough for a professional photographer looking to recover the pictures or a music freak obsessed with MP3 collections.
2. Disk Drill
Disk Drill is also available for Mac (in addition to Windows). It is one of the most popular recoveries for Mac OS.
Surprisingly, it supports a bunch of file formats (in hundreds). You get most of the important features in the basic version (which is available for free) but it does not support all types of file systems and formats. However, when you upgrade it to the pro version, you get advanced recovery methods (like finding a lost partition) and you also get the support for all kinds of file systems and formats.
EaseUS offers the most popular recovery solutions – be it for Windows or Mac. Also, there’s a black Friday sale on their website (at the time of publishing this).
Unlike others, you don’t get a basic edition for free. However, you download the trial and test it out. And, depending on what type of license do you want – or the software upgrades expected, chose any of the editions to go with. It’s surely worth it.
MiniTools is yet another popular recovery tool for Mac. You do get a free version to try it out – but it limits the recovery file size to just 1 MB – so you won’t be able to recover anything with the free version.
For the complete set of features, you should opt for the personal edition. If you want it for business usage, the commercial license should do. You also get to the ability to recover files affected by ransomware.
TestDisk is an open source application for data recovery. Of course, being an open-source product, it is a free solution for Mac.
Although it isn’t actively maintained, you could still give it a try – after all, it’s free. You can recover lost partitions and fix partition tables as well. I’ll definitely recommend this over the others – because I personally love open source projects.
If it works, and you don’t need to spend a penny on data recovery, why not use it? I’ll also suggest you support them – if you’d like to.
It is primarily a mobile phone recovery tool that supports iOS and Android. However, it also offers its desktop versions – just so that you can utilize it everywhere.
For iPhone, there’s a free version, but if you want the complete suite of features for iPhone and Mac, you need to upgrade it to the PRO version. I wouldn’t say that it’s best of all – but depending on what you prefer, it could be your choice to pick.
Best Recovery Software for Linux
Similar to Windows and Mac, Linux also has a couple of good recovery solutions to mitigate data loss in various situations. Most of the solutions for Linux are available for free. So, you don’t need to worry about your wallet when trying to recover your data on Linux.
SystemRescueCd is the most popular recovery software for Linux. It’s not just any ordinary standalone recovery tool – but a collection of the best. It includes the following tools:
- – GNU Parted
- – GParted
- – ddrescue
- – FSArchiver
It also comes load with some networking and file system tools.
It is primarily tailored for Linux but also supports Windows if you want to get out of the dreaded pricing plans of some recovery tools out there.
In addition to that, you get a list of helpful/powerful features. You can either try it via the GUI or through the terminal – whatever suits you the best. To install, you get ISO file for it – which you have to burn it to a CD or follow the official instructions for the alternative installation procedure.
Yet another open-source solution which is available for both Windows and Mac (As mentioned above).
Of course, when using Linux, users prefer open-source tools instead of the proprietary/paid ones. However, do note that it does not offer you a GUI, so it’s a text-based recovery software meant to use via the terminal. It’s very important for you to select the correct file system type in order to make it work.
If you don’t want the ultimate collection of recovery tools – but just one, you can go for it. In either case, SystemRescueCd should be my recommendation above all.
As the name suggests, it is not primarily a recovery tool but an archiver for Linux machines. However, you can easily recover data using it too – so it’s a handy tool if you want the best of both worlds on your Linux system.
You should also be aware that it supports a variety of compression techniques (and helps save a lot of space!). Excited already? Try it out!
Ddrescue is a software recovery tool by GNU. It utilizes a mapfile feature which recovers your data in an efficient way.
It offers a simple GUI to help you utilize it. You won’t find it very enticing to use – but it just works fine. You should definitely try it.
Is it always possible to recover your data?
It isn’t possible all the time.
It really depends on what caused the data loss in the first place. So, if you skipped the part where we mentioned the causes of data loss above, you should read it again and continue here.
So, what we know now is – if a virus/ransomware causes data loss, you do have tools to recover the files (or to prevent it from happening by using a good AntiVirus solution).
If you accidentally delete anything and you haven’t transferred anything new to the storage device, there’s a high possibility for recovery.
If it’s a hardware failure, you can try – but you shouldn’t be too sure.
In either case, if your storage device encounters physical damage – it is best to consult a professional before even trying anything. Of course, if you don’t have anything important, you can try doing it yourself as an experiment.
With all the recovery software tools available for every platform out there, you should not have a problem recovering something you deleted accidentally. However, if your situation differs – the data recovery procedure and efficiency will differ accordingly.
We’ll recommend you to try the free recovery utilities first and then upgrade them as per your requirements!
We hope you find our guide useful!
But, if you want to add something to this article (or want us to investigate something), feel free to let us know in the comments!