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The Best File Recovery Software for Windows - Review 2019

To use a personal computer is to put yourself at risk of data loss. Even if you make regular backups to an external drive or the cloud, there are a number of scenarios where you may lose your files, such as system crashes, power outages, virus attacks, hardware malfunctions, and human error. The good news is that accidentally or maliciously deleted files can be recovered. The bad news is that professional data recovery services can be extremely expensive. In some cases—such as mechanical hard drive failure or physical damage—taking your hard drive to a professional is the only option. For situations where the hard drive is physically functioning, but has a logical fault, you can often get your data back at a fraction of the price by using do-it-yourself data recovery software.

The best DIY file recovery programs are not free—but they can often get you the same results as a walk-in professional data recovery service (like Geek Squad) for a much lower price and without handing your data over to a third party. Thousands of users successfully recover their data using DIY data recovery software every day. But be warned: your mileage may vary.

There are a number of factors that affect your chances for a successful DIY file recovery. The most important is the cause of your data loss. DIY file recovery software is meant for hard drives or USB drives with logical failures—corrupted file systems, accidental deletion, reformatting, etc. If your hard drive has physical damage, then DIY data recovery software will do more harm than help and may even make recovery by a professional impossible.

The second biggest factor is the software you use. When it comes to finding do-it-yourself data recovery software on the web, there is certainly no dearth of choice. There are scores of programs to choose from, with a few popular programs rising to the top of the list. These recommendations typically come from anecdotal or one-time user experiences. In many cases, the reviewers and commenters have only used one or two programs before making their recommendations.

While user reviews are important, we decided to dig deeper. We took the most popular DIY data recovery programs and ran them through a rigorous battery of tests so we could get a thorough comparison of exactly what each is capable of. Although the reviewers working in our data recovery lab are data recovery professionals by trade, this review is designed for everyday personal users. After reading our comparison, you should have a clear idea of which do-it-yourself data recovery software is best for your needs.

Tested Software

For our DIY data recovery software comparison, we established a few criteria:

  • No free file recovery software. Though attractive for obvious reasons, free software usually lacks the features and performance necessary for successful file recovery. For example, Recuva, a widely-used free file recovery program, doesn’t recover folder names and structure.
  • No intrusive file recovery programs. That is, programs that attempt to recover data by correcting errors directly on the disk where the lost files reside. Although this approach is faster and doesn’t require additional disk space to store recovered files, a failed recovery using this method seriously deteriorates chances for a successful file recovery during subsequent attempts, quite often making it impossible.
  • No professional data recovery software. The high price and steep learning curve for professional data recovery software make it unsuitable for DIY users. For home use, data recovery software shouldn’t cost more than US $50 to $70.

Our DIY file recovery software comparison is an annual review. Each year, we re-evaluate the top contenders and consider newcomers as well. We’ll also highlight features that have changed since our last review.

  • 2019
  • 2018
  • 2017
  • 2016
  • 2015
  • 2014

Do-It-Yourself File Recovery Software Tested and Evaluated in 2019

For the 2019 update of our DIY file recovery software comparison, we kept the scope of our tests the same as for 2018 and 2017.

We renewed the list of products as follows:

  • Removed two DIY programs: Active@ UNDELETE because it is now included in the list of professional data recovery programs, and Recuva because of its poor file recovery performance.

We planned to include Ontrack EasyRecovery Home in our tests, but discovered that it is now based on the Stellar Phoenix Windows Data Recovery engine.

  • Included two new programs which are highly advertised online:
Wondershare Data Recovery (ver. 2.5.0.0)

Wondershare Data Recovery

Reviewed Version: 2.5.0.0

Prices: US$ 39.95 with a discount (US$ $49.95 regularly)

Host operating systems: Windows 7/8/1010/8/7/Vista/XP

Support for data recovery hardware: Now

A completely new program for our tests.

Systweak Advanced Disk Recovery (ver. 2.6.1100.16880)

Systweak Advanced Disk Recovery

Reviewed Version: 2.6.1100.16880

Prices: US$39.99

Host operating systems: Windows 10/8.1/8/7/Vista and XP (both 32 bit and 64 bit)

Support for data recovery hardware: No

We tested this program in 2016 with quite average results, but considered the possibility that performance may have improved.

We also continued to test and evaluate the programs which were included in our 2018 annual review:

EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard (ver. 12.8)

EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard

Reviewed Version: 12.8

Prices: Pro: US $69.95 with a discount (US$ 89.95 regularly), Pro+ US$ 99.90 with a discount, (US$ 149.9 regularly), Technician US$ 299

Host operating systems: Windows XP/Vista/7/8/8.1/10, Windows Server 2003/2008/2012/2016

Support for data recovery hardware: No

R-Undelete (ver. 6.5 build 1170927)

R-Undelete

Reviewed Version: 6.5 build 1170927

Prices: US $54.99

Host operating systems: Windows 2000/XP/Vista/7/8/8.1/10, Windows Server 2003/2008/2012/2016

Support for data recovery hardware: No

Restorer Ultimate (ver. 10.0 build 820721)

Restorer Ultimate

Reviewed Version: 10.0 build 820721

Prices: US $ 29.99 (US $49.99 for the Pro version, US $ 69.99 for the Pro Network version)

Host operating systems: Windows 2000/XP/Vista/7/8/8.1/10, Windows Server 2003/2008/2012/2016

Support for data recovery hardware: No

Raise Data Recovery (ver. 6.18.5)

Raise Data Recovery

Reviewed Version: 6.18.5

Prices: €19.95 (app. US$ 23.94 ) General License [LTS]

Host operating systems: Windows XP/Vista/7/8/8.1/10

Support for data recovery hardware: No

Seagate File Recovery (ver. 3.2.6.0)

Seagate File Recovery

Reviewed Version: 3.2.6.0

Prices: Premium: US$ 79 (1 install, 24 uses per year), Technician: US$ 99.00

Host operating systems: Windows 7/8/10

Support for data recovery hardware: No

We tested this program in 2016 and 2018. It scored #3 in 2016, but showed quite unimpressive results in 2018. Seagate Technology PLC, is a well-known hard drive manufacturer and has all the capabilities to strongly improve its performance, so we decided to give it another chance.

For your convenience, we consolidated the results of our evaluation and tests into an interactive table below. You can click the column title to expand the column into a full tab to see more detailed results of the evaluation or test. Some tabs also include additional test / evaluation descriptions and brief conclusions.

Interface and Features Ratings
Product File recovery features User Interface Localization Support Demo version restrictions File preview
R-Undelete4.46.05.75.56.0
Restorer Ultimate5.85.05.74.06.0
EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard2.75.56.05.54.5
Raise Data Recovery3.15.55.54.04.0
Wondershare Data Recovery2.35.05.73.04.0
Seagate File Recovery3.44.54.53.04.0
Systweak Advanced Disk Recovery2.45.05.84.02.0
File recovery performance Ratings
Product Deleted files Emptied Recycle Bin Disk re-format Damaged partition Deleted partition
Restorer Ultimate5.75.55.56.06.0
R-Undelete5.75.55.26.06.0
EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard5.55.85.35.66.0
Wondershare Data Recovery5.36.04.14.15.5
Raise Data Recovery5.32.85.15.65.9
Seagate File Recovery4.24.03.83.54.1
Systweak Advanced Disk Recovery3.54.03.63.83.8

For our 2019 DIY file recovery program review, we added two new programs highly advertised on the internet: Wondershare Data Recovery and Systweak Advanced Disk Recovery. The first one showed quite decent results: a forth place score in file recovery performance was better than the results of Raise Data Recovery, and fifth in overall rating. On the other hand, Systweak Advanced Disk Recovery serves an example that mass advertisement does not always guarantee performance. R-Undelete remains the top-rated product as it was in 2018 and 2017. Then follows Restorer Ultimate, EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard, Raise Data Recovery, and the rest. We gave Seagate Recovery Suite another chance to improve its performance, since its vendor is a well-known hard drive manufacturer, however unfortunately our expectations fell short.

Overall Rating
Product Rating Conclusions
R-Undelete 5.6

The program has an easy-to-use yet flexible user interface, the best among all other tested programs, and also the best combination of file recovery features, including a very powerful file previewer, disk S.M.A.R.T. monitoring, and no demo restrictions for FAT/exFAT disks (most USB sticks, memory cards, etc.). R-Undelete is based on the data recovery engine of R-Studio, a reputable professional data recovery program, which results in the excellent file recovery performance, although this year Restorer Ultimate pushed it to second place by a negligible margin. All of this makes its overall score highest in our rating. Recommended for inexperienced users who have never (or occasionally) performed data recovery tasks before.

Restorer Ultimate 5.5

Restorer Ultimate is a program that balances between professional and DIY software. It always shows the top-level file recovery performance (the best this year). It has an exhaustive wizard interface that allows almost all file recovery parameters to be specified. It also has a powerful file previewer, S.M.A.R.T. monitoring, user-defined raw file types, and a versatile disk imaging module. While all this makes Restorer Ultimate suitable for advanced users, these complex parameters and features can confuse inexperienced users and make file recovery more difficult for them. This program can effectively handle almost all file recovery tasks and rivals many professional data recovery programs. It can be used by users with any experience level, but only advanced IT professionals can fully take advantage of all its file recovery capabilities. Other programs are more optimized for automatic recovery without any manual adjustment.

EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard 5.2

Great wizard interface and file recovery performance (ranked third), especially for deleted partitions and an emptied Recycle Bin. Their strongest points are localization support and minimum demo restrictions: free file recovery of up to 2 GB of data is a strong reason to pay attention to this program. Weak points are the lack of disk imaging and S.M.A.R.T. monitoring.

Raise Data Recovery 4.7

Although it has the second-best user interface, its file recovery performance leaves much to be desired. Ranking fifth, losing to our newcomer, Wondershare Data Recovery, and almost failed the file recovery from an emptied Recovery Bin test. This was strange because it’s the DIY version of Recovery Explorer, a well-known professional data recovery program, and had the second-best file recovery performance in 2017. It has the richest file system set (including Apple’s new APFS), but an average set of file recovery features (a weak file previewer, no disk imaging or S.M.A.R.T. monitoring). Nevertheless, this program is definitely worth looking into, especially if you need to recover files from non-Windows computers.

Wondershare Data Recovery 4.5

This program has a decent wizard interface and good localization support. Its file recovery performance is quite impressive for a new program on our list: the best performance in recovery from an emptied Recycle Bin, and its other test results are adequate. That is why it scored forth in file recovery performance, ahead of Raise Data Recovery, but its lack of many recovery features sets it back to fifth place overall.

Seagate File Recovery 3.9

This program has been showing poorer and poorer recovery results since it was completely redesigned and redeveloped in 2017. This year it scored only sixth in recovery performance, showing no impressive results at all and the weakest for file recovery from damaged partitions. Before its redevelopment, it was #3 in our 2016 tests. Given its strange license policy (24 uses per year), even its excellent S.M.A.R.T. monitoring features, and file search and mark capabilities cannot make up for its lack of performance. We do not recommend this program.

Systweak Advanced Disk Recovery 3.8

A program with a good wizard interface and localization support, but with incredibly poor recovery performance. It did not show good results in any test, with recovery of deleted files, from formatted and deleted partitions having the lowest scores in our tests. We cannot recommend this program.

Most DIY data recovery users are facing a specific, one-off data loss situation. Our evaluation and test results are designed to help you choose a file recovery program that will meet your immediate needs. If you’re not sure which features you need, start with the top-rated program and attempt a data recovery in the demo mode for free. Each of the DIY data recovery tools we reviewed have a free demo version, so you can try as many as you’d like before making an investment. If you are a bit more experienced and know what kinds of features you need, you can take a look at our detailed test results and see which program is best-suited to the data recovery scenario you face. In our experience, some DIY programs perform very well in one area but fall short in others. Depending on your needs, a program with a middling overall rating might do the trick for you, even if the top-rated program does not.

If you are looking for a data recovery tool to purchase ahead of time, then you should check out our professional data recovery software evaluation. Professional software, while more expensive, provides more features and better file recovery performance across all the different tests we perform.

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