Data Recovery Digest

Data Backup Software

results »

The Best File Recovery Software for Windows - Review 2021

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.

  • 2021
  • 2020
  • 2019
  • 2018
  • 2017
  • 2016
  • 2015
  • 2014

Do-It-Yourself File Recovery Software Tested and Evaluated in 2020

For the 2021 update of our DIY file recovery software comparison, we kept the scope of our testing nearly the same as for 2020, 2019, 2018, and 2017, except one point: we removed the Regions feature because none of the program we tested supports it. We also decided to carry out the tests when the disks were logically disconnected from the operating system to prevent the system from “repairing” their file system. Such “repair” seriously reduces chances for successful file recovery.

We renewed the list of products as follows:

Wise Data Recovery (ver. 5.1.8)

Wise Data Recovery

Reviewed Version: 5.1.8

Prices: Pro: 1 month/1 system: US$ 59.95 (US$ 29.97 with discount), 1 year/1 system: US$ 89.95 (US$ 44.97 with discount).

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

Support for data recovery hardware: No

Speed Data Recovery (ver. 7.0.6)

Speed Data Recovery

Reviewed Version: 7.0.6

Prices: 1 year/1 system: US$ 29.95, Lifetime: US$ 39.00 (5 systems)

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

Support for data recovery hardware: No

SFWare Data Recovery (ver. 1.0)

SFWare Data Recovery

Reviewed Version: 1.0

Prices: US$ 69.00

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

Support for data recovery hardware: No

iBoysoft Data Recovery (ver. 3.5)

iBoysoft Data Recovery

Reviewed Version: 3.5

Prices: Standard edition: US$ 69.95, Professional edition: US$ 199.00, Technician edition: US$ 299.00.

Host operating systems: Windows 10/8.1/8/7/Vista/XP Windows Server 2019/2016/2012/2008/2003

Support for data recovery hardware: No

We also continued to test and evaluate the programs that were included in our 2019 annual review:

EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard (ver. 13.5)

EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard

Reviewed Version: 13.5

Prices: Pro:** US$ 69.95** (1 month subscription), US$ 99.95 (1 year subscription), US$ 149.95 (lifetime license). Technician: US$ 299.00 (1 year subscription), US$ 399.00 (2 year subscription), US$ 499.00 (lifetime license).

Host operating systems: Windows XP/Vista/7/8/8.1/10, Windows Server 2003/2008/2012/2016/2019

Support for data recovery hardware: No

R-Undelete (ver. 6.6 build 175721)

R-Undelete

Reviewed Version: 6.6 build 175721

Prices: US$ 54.99

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

Support for data recovery hardware: No

Disk Drill for Windows (ver. 4.1.551 )

Disk Drill for Windows

Reviewed Version: 4.1.551

Prices: Pro: US$ 105.00, Enterprise: US$ 590.00.

Host operating systems: Windows 10/8.1/8/7/Vista/XP, Windows Server 2019/2016/2012/2008

Support for data recovery hardware: No

Raise Data Recovery (ver. 8.9)

Raise Data Recovery

Reviewed Version: 8.9

Prices: US$ 24.95 General License [LTS]

Host operating systems: Windows XP SP3/Vista/7/8/8.1/10 (32/64 bit)

Support for data recovery hardware: No

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-Undelete5.06.05.75.56.0
Disk Drill for Windows4.84.55.85.04.5
EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard3.04.55.85.55.0
Raise Data Recovery3.56.05.74.04.0
Speed Data Recovery3.44.55.35.53.5
iBoysoft Data Recovery2.54.53.45.54.5
SFWare Data Recovery3.94.55.33.03.0
Wise Data Recovery2.84.34.12.53.0
File recovery performance Ratings
Product Deleted files Emptied Recycle Bin Disk re-format Damaged partition Deleted partition
R-Undelete5.85.85.76.06.0
Speed Data Recovery5.35.35.36.06.0
Raise Data Recovery5.55.35.16.06.0
EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard5.34.85.66.06.0
iBoysoft Data Recovery4.74.35.06.05.5
Disk Drill for Windows5.04.84.64.65.5
SFWare Data Recovery4.84.34.43.96.0
Wise Data Recovery5.84.83.02.10.0

For our 2021 DIY file recovery program review, we added four programs: Wise Data Recovery, Speed Data Recovery, SFWare Data Recovery, and iBoysoft Data Recovery. One of them, Speed Data Recovery, showed very impressive results in file recovery performance (the second-highest score). And another one, SFWare Data Recovery, is the only program in our review that allows its users to add and edit their own file types for raw file recovery.

The first two best programs in our test remain the same: R-Undelete still remains the top-rated product as it was in 2020, 2019, 2018, and 2017. Next follows EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard. Raise Data Recovery has greatly improved its file recovery performance, which has moved it to the third place in our review.

One the other hand, Disk Drill for Windows has disappointed us once again. Although it boasts the second-best file recovery features, its file recovery performance leaves much to be desired. This stands in contrast with its Mac version, which won second place in our 2021 Mac file recovery review.

Overall Rating
Product Rating Conclusions
R-Undelete 5.7

The program has the second-best interface among all tested programs. It’s very straightforward and intuitive, which allows inexperienced users to correctly choose a required course of action for their file recovery cases. It scores best for both its feature set and recovery performance. The program supports quite a diverse range of file systems; enough to recover files from Windows computers.

Its strong points include: excellent recovery performance, a result of the program being based on the data recovery engine of R-Studio; a reputable professional data recovery program. It has the best file previewer, relaxed demo limitations (free recovery from FAT/exFAT devices), S.M.A.R.T. monitoring, and good disk imaging capabilities. Its file recovery features include versatile file search and mark capabilities, estimation of chances for successful recovery, and disk S.M.A.R.T. monitoring.

Its weak points include: support for popular non-Windows file systems would be a great plus.

EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard 5.2

The program has a basic wizard interface. It showed the third-highest score for its feature set and the fourth-highest score in file recovery performance. Its supported file systems are enough to recover files from Windows, Mac, and Linux systems.

Its strong points include: excellent localization (20 interface languages supported), its demo limitations aren't very impressive (up to 20 GB of free file recovery), it has a good file previewer, disk scan, file search, and mark capabilities. It showed very good recovery for files deleted without bin and after disk format.

Its weak points include: the lack of disk imaging, file recovery logging, and S.M.A.R.T. monitoring.

Raise Data Recovery 5.1

The program has the best wizard interface among all tested programs. It's very logical, straightforward and clear, with comments and tips for every step of the file recovery process. It showed the fourth-highest score for its feature set and the third-highest score for file recovery performance. The program has the largest set of supported file systems which makes it possible to recover files not only from Windows computers, but from Mac, Linux, and many NAS systems.

Its strong points include: decent results in all file recovery tests and a good set of file recovery parameters.

Its weak points include: relatively stringent demo version limitations, the lack of disk imaging capabilities, and S.M.A.R.T. monitoring.

Speed Data Recovery 5.0

The program has a basic wizard interface. It showed the fifth-highest score for its feature set and the second-highest score in file recovery performance. The program supported the set of tested file systems, which is enough to recover files from Windows, Mac, and Linux systems.

Its strong points include: excellent file recovery performance in all tests. Its demo mode limitations are quite relaxed and its disk imaging capabilities are quite good.

Its weak points include: an English-only user interface, the lack of file recovery logging, and S.M.A.R.T. monitoring.

Disk Drill for Windows 4.9

The program has a good basic wizard interface. It showed the second-highest score for its feature set and the sixth-highest score for recovery performance. The program supported a large set of file systems to recover files from Windows, Mac, and Linux systems.

Its strong points include: soft demo limitations (0.5 GB of free recovery), good localization support (18 interface languages), very good file search and mark capabilities, disk imaging, logging, and S.M.A.R.T. monitoring.

Its weak points include: relatively poor file recovery performance, especially for file recovery from damaged partitions.

iBoysoft Data Recovery 4.6

The program has a basic wizard interface. It showed the sixth-highest score for its feature set and the fifth-highest score for file recovery performance. The program supported only the Windows file system.

Its strong points include: relatively weak demo limitations (1.0 GB of free recovery), a relatively good file previewer, and a good file recovery performance for damaged partitions

Its weak points include: poor localization support (English-only interface language and it didn’t recognize non-European characters), lack of disk imaging, recovery logging, and S.M.A.R.T. monitoring.

SFWare Data Recovery 4.3

The program has a basic wizard interface. It showed the seventh-highest score for its features and file recovery performance. The program supported a diverse set of file systems to recover files from Windows, Mac, and Linux systems.

Its strong points include: excellent raw file recovery features, ultimately letting users add/remove/edit their own file types. It has good imaging capabilities and recovery parameters. It performed quite well in file recovery from deleted partitions.

Its weak points include: relatively stringent demo limitations, weak file previewer, and poor overall recovery performance.

Wise Data Recovery 3.3

The program has a basic wizard interface. It showed the least-highest scores for its features and file recovery performance. It supported a diverse set of file systems to recover files from Windows, Mac, and Linux systems.

Its strong points include: an outstanding number of interface languages (41 supported) and good performance in file recovery for files deleted without Recovery Bins.

Its weak points include: It couldn’t recover non-European characters. It also showed very poor recovery results and unimpressive overall performance. It completely failed recovery from deleted and damaged partitions since it cannot work with hard disks without existing partitions.

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.

Comments

No comments yet. Sign in to add the first!